I have been to many zoos and wildlife parks growing up and on my travels. I was even lucky enough to work for a Disney World Hotel and get free entry to Animal Kingdom when ever I wanted for 3 months, which you can imagine I practically lived in. So with all the hype around Australia Zoo and the animal hospital there, I could not wait to check it out. I was definitely not disappointed!
It took us just under 2 hours to drive from Surfer's Paradise to the zoo, and the entrance fee was $59 each, however it was all definitely worth it.
Now also as a Brit, I remember Steve Irwin being that crazy novelty aussie who appeared on our TV screens every now and again wrestling crocodiles and getting excited over a komodo dragon giving him a nasty bruise. When he died, I remember my younger brother in tears for about a week, because at the time he too, wanted to be a crocodile hunter. However I had no idea just how much good he did for the wildlife in this country and the world. By visiting Australia Zoo, I saw Steve and the whole Irwin Family and Foundation in a new light; he wasn't just that crazy guy who got a thrill by getting up close and personal with the world's most deadliest animals, but he was a wildlife expert who dedicated his life to educating people and saving the animals.
The more I learnt about Steve, the more the zoo seemed to have an overwhelming sadness, and when I sat in the 'Crocoseum', I actually got quite choked up when they played a video of him. There was definitely something missing.
But on a brighter note, the zoo was fantastic. As an animal lover, it's always quite a risk going to wildlife parks. I have visited a couple in England, where the cages seem too small, and the animals looked depressed, but not here. There wasn't one animal that didn't look happy or was fantastically looked after. In fact, some animals were quite difficult to spot because their enclosure was that big!
The whole experience renewed my faith in why we do have zoos and why they are not just for entertainment but for educational reasons. Australia Zoo was by far the most interactive zoo I have ever been too. Keepers bring out and hold animals for intervals of 30 minutes, at the most once a day for children and adults to get up close and personal and learn about why they are important and what we can do to save them.
This little guy might be able to teach people to live with his kind and not kill them
Amongst this hands on experiences, you can also feed the kangaroos, hold a koala and feed the elephants. A new project they are working on is a cheetah race track. Much similar to a grey hound track, the zoo intend to show people just how fast the fastest mammal on earth can run and in turn allow the cheetahs the space to run like they would in the wild. The zoo excels in fun education, so hopefully the next generation might be able understand better and help put a stop to animal cruelty before we lose more wild species around the world.
Feeding the kangaroos was a fantastic experience but allowed me to see just how strong those back legs are!
For only a $2 donation, we were able to look into the animal hospital. We learnt that this was a non government funded facility that not only cared for its own sick animals, but responded to animals in the wild. (Mainly koalas who have been hit by cars). The team brings them in, nurses them back to health and if possible (which is likely in most cases) released back into the wild. One case of a turtle who needed his flipper removed was released back into the wild and is still being traced up and down the coast of Queensland was really inspiring. As well as a koala with a fractured neck, who was recovering well and a joey, whose mother had died after being run over.
I would recommend the zoo to everyone, young and old, for educational reasons or just plain fun. I shall be returning next month with my parents on their visit down under. I will also be researching how to help the Steve Irwin foundation and definitely be spreading the world about Steve Irwin Day when I'm back home in November.