And now for the long awaited post on my visit to the Australia Zoo! Are you ready for this?
I woke up at about 7:30 to get ready to catch the (free) 8:30 bus to the Australia Zoo. It was a huge double-decker bus, completely full of people excited to visit Steve Irwin’s former home. It took us about 50 minutes to get to the zoo, and during the ride they played an episode of the Crocodile Hunter to keep us entertained.
When we finally arrived, the bus driver gave us a run through of what we could expect to see while we were there. He mentioned that if we were lucky, we might even get to see a Tasmanian Tiger, which he said was “extremely rare and endangered” because of a facial disease. Now, if I had never visited Tasmania I might have thought “Oh cool! A Tasmanian Tiger! I don’t know what that is, but I can’t wait to see one!” However, visiting Tasmania left me a bit more informed on their wildlife. While I was there I learned that Tasmanian tigers either (1) have never existed or (2) have long been extinct. And I suppose we should add a (3) have not been seen for so many years that they are thought to be extinct. I can’t imagine that he was completely lying to us. Most likely what he meant to say was Tasmanian Devil (which are dying out because of the facial cancer). I’m not sure if anyone else caught his faux pas, or if were even paying attention to his speech. It’s also possible this was his “haze the tourists” gag to see how many people would ask where the Tasmanian tigers are.
When we were released and we paid our way into the zoo we were all greeted by Steve and his family:
My immediate impression of the zoo was quite favorable. It didn’t look like your typical zoo. Nothing with in it looked like a cage. The animal enclosures were huge and all looked very natural. The workers at the zoo were all wearing the signature Steve Irwin outfit – khaki shorts and a khaki top.
The first thing I checked out was the alligator pit. Here is one cute little guy named “Fang 1”. I’m not sure where he got that name as he had way more fangs than just one.
There were six separate pits in the Alligator enclosure, each with either one or two (if it had a mate) alligators in them. These alligators looked much happier than that sad little crocodile I saw in Alice Springs living in a dirty, tiny aquarium.
Next I joined a large crowd of tourists waiting for the chance to feed an elephant. The elephants were fed every morning at 11:30. Anyone could feed them for no charge, unless you decided to buy the photo. I waited patiently on the line and when it was my turn, I fed my large friend a delectable piece of carrot. He grabbed it with his trunk pretty quickly, but he was very gentle as well. His trunk had a wet feeling to it, almost like someone with wet hands was trying to take something from me. Of course I had to buy the picture. I might never get the opportunity to feed an elephant again, so I wanted to remember it! It was under 10 dollars so it certainly wouldn’t break the bank.
After feeding the elephant I passed by a small group of Koalas. The koalas were placed in multiple places throughout the zoo, and there was one enclosure where you could walk through and check them out up close – you just couldn’t touch them.
This is my favorite koala picture. His eyes are open! It was hard to find a koala who wasn’t sleeping.
I also got a video of one of them eating. Try and tell me this isn’t adorable!
I walked by the giant tortoise enclosure while the workers were feeding them. These guys are well known for being slow, but when they saw that food they ran over to it pretty quick! A woman was there talking about the tortoises as they ate, and invited anyone to make an appointment to come into the tortoise enclosure if we really liked turtles. This seemed to be an available extra for many of the animals. I often saw random people in the enclosures of the (non dangerous) animal and the animals seemed perfectly content to have them there.
Soon after I noticed that people were starting to crowd around a gated area. I went over to see what was going on and saw that the workers were taking the tigers (not Tasmanian tigers) out for a walk. That is definitely something you wouldn’t see in an American zoo!
The animals in this zoo almost seemed like they were all pets. It wasn’t uncommon to see the workers sitting in enclosures of even the dangerous animals – like the tiger cage – and the animals were fine with it. I would hope this means that the animals are all happy and well taken care of. Normally I wouldn’t think it was a good idea to have wild animals be so tame towards humans, but I guess it is nice for the ones who are going to be in captivity for the rest of their lives. This way they get more attention and become used to having tourists gawk at them all the time.
Next I found the dingos. I only managed to see one at a distance, the others were hiding away from prying eyes. That was another big plus for the Australian zoo – every one of the animals had somewhere to go if they felt like being away from the eyes of tourists. Some zoos that I have been to give the animals no choice but to be visible at all times, which can cause extreme stress. The dingos look just like dogs, don’t they? It was strange to see a dog in a zoo!
My next agenda was to find the cassowaries. Cassowaries are considered to be the most dangerous birds in the world. They are normally found in rain forests, though they are pretty rare in the Australian rainforests and it is not very often that you’d see one in the wild. But if you do happen to see one in the wild… stay far away from it. These birds have razor sharp claws and could kill you in seconds. They also have a sharp plate on the top of their head for slicing through the rain forest – or your neck. They are bad little (big) birds. I recently had heard a story of a young guy who was killed by a cassowary because he was teasing it – not a smart thing to do. I did see one in the Sydney zoo, but it was in a small glass enclosure with nowhere to hide. Here the enclosure was much more appropriate – a huge forested area with plenty of places for them to remain out of sight. I didn’t see any at first as they were all hiding in the thicker areas of their enclosure, but I did see something stealing their food!
These little guys were all over the zoo as well, running around freely. They are kind of cute, aren’t they?
I did finally see a cassowary when it was coming out to eat. You wouldn’t want to meet up with one of these guys in a dark alley!
And of course, a video for your viewing pleasure:
Next it was the croc enclosure. Wow! These suckers were enormous! Too bad I couldn’t see someone standing next to it for scale. But this was the one enclosure where I never saw a worker hanging around inside it. Even Australians are afraid of crocodiles.
Throughout the zoo I would see cute little Steve Irwin sculptures. This one made me laugh so I had to take a picture of it. It was in front of one of the kiddie rides:
Now who wouldn’t want a statue of a crocodile carrying Steve Irwin like a baby in their living room? Nobody, that’s who!
Next up was the snakes. The snake enclosures looked kind of small in my opinion, but they were still bigger than the ones at the Sydney zoo. It seems to be the fate for snakes in zoos. They always end up in the smallest areas. At least they did a good job with making the enclosures look like where the snake would be living in the wild:
Here is a full view of the size of one of the enclosures:
Normally the snakes enclosures I had seen would be about half the size they were here or even smaller, so I guess I can’t really fault them much:
When I left the snakes house I immediately saw the wombat enclosure. Every single one of them were sleeping. I was hoping to see one wake up and walk around but no such luck. So all I have for now is a picture of a sleeping wombat:
Then I had a stroke of luck! I found out that what I had thought was the wombat enclosure was actually only their sleeping quarters. Outside there was had a large for them to frolic around and dig. Here is one of the wide awake wombats. I thought they looked a little bit like a cross between a gopher and a bear (yeesh, can you imagine that relationship?):
Next I visited the bird aviary. It was a huge aviary, big enough that I didn’t even see all that many birds, except for a few of the smaller ones:
There was one worker that was walking around the aviary with a cockatoo on her wrist. As people walked by he said “hello”, and “hello pretty boy” and “hello pretty girl”. She asked him to say “hello pretty girl” to me, but he said “hello pretty boy” instead. I’m pretty sure I was just insulted by a bird. He also did a trick:
After the aviary, I was off to Roo Heaven!
This was my favorite part of the zoo. You walked into the enclosure and it was like being in a huge park full of kangaroos. There were kids playing in the sand while kangaroos lazily watched them from inches away. Some people were feeding the roos, and others were just sitting next to them:
Don’t worry about the kangaroos though – even these kangaroos had an area they could go to escape the humans if they didn’t feel like being social.
Next up: The elephants!
I only saw three elephants in the enclosure, and it looked like a mommy, a daddy, and a baby elephant. They snubbed us at first:
But when the keepers entered the enclosure, the elephants went right up to them. What do you suppose they were all gabbing about? I’d like to think they were discussing their menu for that night.
Here are a couple of the elephants taking a drink:
And just because I like you, another video!
I loved the fact that at the entrance/exit of the elephant enclosure, they had a statue of Ganesh, the Hindu Elephant God:
Some people left him offerings of flowers and money:
After paying my respects to Ganesh, I headed off to see the tigers in their enclosure. They were too far away for me to get a good picture of them from the outside area:
You did have a better view at the glass paneled area, but because you are behind glass pictures do not turn out all that terrifically so I won’t post one here.
I left the India portion of the zoo (the area with the tigers and elephants and Ganesh was sectioned off like a different country) and I must say I was impressed with how they built that section of the zoo. They took time with the sculptures and the flowers, and put effort in making it feel like you were at a zoo in India.
Now on to the Emus! I wasn’t that interested in seeing the emus, as I had already seen plenty of them in the wild, but I caught this picture and wanted to share. This was an area of the enclosure where the emus could have some privacy. The fence was covered with burlap so no one could see in and the emus couldn’t see out – but this little guy was curious as to who was out there!
I did go to the Tasmanian devil enclosure, but I didn’t see any Tasmanian devils. Luckily I had already seen them in Tasmania. And no, I did not see any Tasmanian tigers either.
Next up was the echindas, another one of Australia’s strange native creatures. They almost look like porcupines.
They walk strangely as well. And here is video proof:
As I was walking back towards the front of the park I had to walk through the kangaroo territory again. I’m glad I did! This time I saw a beautiful mostly white kangaroo. I can’t imagine kangaroos sporting these colorings would last very long in the wild.
I was starving at this point of my visit, so I had lunch in the food court. I had what they called an “American” burger. Those burgers were pretty much the same except they called ketchup “ketchup” as opposed to “tomato sauce” and they didn’t try to sneak a beet on my burger instead of a tomato.
I was joined for lunch by another bird – he was more welcome than the bird I met during my snorkeling tour because this one didn’t try to steal my food.
And right before I left the zoo, I decided I wanted to hold a koala. I missed out at the Sydney zoo, so I figured I would take my shot here. He was as adorable as could be, but his nails were very sharp, and boy do those things smell!
So, that was the end of my Australian Zoo adventure. As I was leaving the zoo, I saw this banner:
I had heard from a few people that they thought it seemed like the Australia Zoo had been changed into a memorial to Steve. I guess I didn’t notice it too much, although I suppose I also hadn’t ever seen the zoo prior to his death. All of the statues of Steve and his family were probably only added after he died.
So I was now finished with the Australia zoo, and I got back onto the bus and headed back to Noosa.
Oh! I almost forgot to mention: On my walk around the zoo, I saw yet another person that I had met before. He was an Irish guy who once again I couldn’t for the life of me remember where I knew him. He wasn’t one of the Irish brothers I had met on the Frasier Island trip. When before that had I met an Irish guy? As soon as he left I remembered – he was on my rafting trip! My memory is awful.