Trip Start Jan 22, 2006
156Trip End Aug 16, 2006
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After driving for about a hour, we drove into the Australia Zoo car park and parked up our long suffering hire car. We walked towards the entrance of the zoo and were immediately greeted by a huge camel, that was waiting there patiently to greet visitors. Lynne and I both stroked it and were surprised at how soft it felt, he was also extremely docile and didn't seem to mind humans being close to him. In the main entrance there was a massive photograph of Steve Irwin saying his catchphrase "Crikey", which I thought boded well for the day ahead
The first creatures that we saw after paying the entrance fees were a couple of large alligators (no sign of Steve wrestling with them though sadly), even though they were housed in an enclosure, I never feel that comfortable being so close to alligators. We then walked past a guide that was holding some sort of reptile, which again Lynne and I both stroked. It didn't feel cold or slimy at all, which is how i expected it to feel but I suppose everybody thinks that.
Around the corner was a enormous Galapagus tortoise called Harriet, she was the oldest living tortoise in the world at 176 years old. She'd originally been owned by Charles Darwin in the 1850s and had been brought over to England. Fortunately she hadn't been killed for scientific research and had continued to wow crowds at zoos for the rest of her life. When we arrived at her enclosure she was busy noisily munching her way through a mixed salad which made us laugh, she seemed such a gentle creature and it was such a honour to be so close to her
Sadly we didn't have time to linger for too long as it was time for several back to back animal presentations in the main animal stadium which is in the centre of the zoo. We sat down and watched the first show, which featured one of my least favourite creatures, the snake. Still I didn't mind watching from a safe distance and I enjoyed the gasps that came from the crowd when one of the keepers clubbed to death a snake with a big stick. Before revealing that it was only a snake that was made from rubber so everybody could relax.
The next portion of the show featured some tigers and the keepers got to show how they interacted with them. They didn't make any of the animals in the zoo do tricks or routines, but they did their best to show the behaviours that the creatures would show if they were in the wild. Certainly I wouldn't have swapped places with any of the keepers at this moment in time, as the tigers leapt around the enclosure and near to them. After the tigers were put away, some exotic birds flew around the arena which was pleasant enough but maybe we were a bit blase about this because we had so many exotic coloured birds back at the holiday park
After eating lunch (fortunately not raw meat), we had a long leisurely stroll around the rest of the park. First up was several shelters that had very cute young farm animals in them, Lynne was in her element at this section (in fact pretty much for the whole day!) and I could see her heart melting as each creature came up to her. We then walked into an open enclosure that was full of kangaroos hopping around, eating and sleeping. Before we'd both regretted not stroking a kangaroo, so we found one that was relaxing on the grass and patted it. Once again it was far softer than I expected it to be and the creature seemed perfectly content to lie there in the sunshine and enjoy the attention. Sadly we didn't have any food to give it to reward his behaviour, but there were plenty of other people wandering around with bags of food, so I suspected he wouldn't go short of a meal.
We had another short walk to an enclosure that contained elephants, fortunately we'd timed it so it was the section of the day when you could feed them. So we joined a very short queue, which when you reached the front of you had to pick up a piece of carrot and then approach the elephant
The next area we went to in a very busy day was the tiger enclosure. Here the keepers again interacted with the tigers and personally I think they must have had balls of steel to run around with a toy, getting the tigers to chase after them. They even managed to get the tigers to jump into the water with them, which is pretty amazing because tigers aren't really that fond of H2O. It was bizarre seeing them splash around and standing on the shoulders of their keepers, once again I found myself admiring the courage of the keepers and the trust that they must have built up with the animals.
We then had the chance to walk through another open enclosure, this time it had lots of sleeping koalas in the trees. Lynne couldn't resist the opportunity of stroking another koala, whilst I contended myself with shooting far too much footage of them sleeping in the trees. At one point we sat down on a bench and watched a koala make a dash for it across the path, he stopped about two feet away from where we were sat
The final open enclosure of the day was a huge aviary, where we took our lives in our hands by having all sorts of birds and parrots swoop around us. I was glad that I was wearing a hat, just in case any of the birds got too excited and decided to open their bowels whilst flying overhead. We saw one creature that looked just like a pigeon that you'd get in the UK, however it had a very brightly coloured chest, which rather put our one to shame.
Walking back towards the exit as it approached dusk, we saw another variant of kangaroo (the red kangaroo), they were all far too busy eating to be concerned with us. Then as we were almost out of the park, we saw a keeper walking a wombat, which delighted Lynne because she'd wanted to stroke one all day. The wombat didn't seem to mind, in fact it didn't even stop eating grass for one second as Lynne stroked it and posed for photos. The keeper asked us about our trip and where we were going next, they seemed envious when they heard about the balloon safari that we'd be taking when we reached Africa.
There wasn't too much time for Lynne to hit the shops as the park was almost closed, still she did manage to pick up a nice fleece that was reasonably priced considering it had Australia Zoo plastered all over it. We also purchased some photos that had been taken of us and various animals as we'd been walking around, which were well worth buying.
We got back in the car and headed back to our cabin, exhausted after such a long and tiring day wandering around. Still it was amazing to see so many creatures up close and I'd recommend that anyone visits Australia Zoo if they're passing, it is well worth it.