The first stop on the tour was the Reptile Quarantine room. In this back of house room newly acquired reptiles are kept for a period of time before they go on display. They are checked for diseases and infections before they allowed to mix with the other reptiles. Unfortunately when we visited there were no reptiles to see on quarantine.
From here we climbed some stairs up to the roof of the attraction. From the roof you can see in to the enclosures from a unique perspective. We saw some koalas high up in the trees, Ringo the bare nosed wombat, and a colourfully marked and endangered yellow footed rock wallaby relaxing on a ledge.
The yellow footed rock wallaby is listed as an endangered species
While on the tour you have a great opportunity to ask the zookeeper any questions you might have about the animals, their diets and special requirements in the zoo. The only burning question I had was not so sophisticated, but I still took the opportunity to confirm with the zookeeper if a recent piece of trivia I'd heard was indeed true.....Are wombat droppings really in the shape of a cube? The answer from the zookeeper - yes in the wild they are but due to a slightly different diet in captivity they are usually a bit softer and not as well-formed. Fascinating, and something to look for next time you are at the zoo.
From the roof we had a great view of Princess, the cassowary, through the protective netting of the enclosure. It was interesting to learn that the cassowary is classified as an endangered species in Australia, with only an estimated 1500 left in the wild.
From here we went back inside Wildlife Sydney for an animal encounter - with a Water Python! Known in Aboriginal Dreaming as the Rainbow Serpent, this large non-venomous snake was huge, over 2 metres long. Only the youngest in our group was brave enough to hold it.
Next stop on the tour was the viewing platform above the enclosure of Rex, the 5 metre, 700kg salt water crocodile. You would think he would be easy to spot being so large, however we could not see him from up above. Nevertheless our guide Murray told us some crocodile facts and kept us moving on to the Reptile Room.
If you can't see Rex from above, try inside in the Kakadu Gorge section where you should be able to see him from below.
Our final stop on the Behind the Scenes Tour was upstairs on the Koala Rooftop where we had an up close experience with some sleepy koalas. Whilst they are not very active most of the time we were surprised to learn they have the ability to get up to speeds of around 40km per hour on the ground.
The Behind The Scenes tour ran for around 45 minutes and was interesting and informative. The highlights for us were the encounter with the Water Python, seeing Rex under water and Princess the Cassowary. My children also enjoyed the Animal Adventures Quiz Trail throughout the attraction.
Daily tours commence at 10am and 3pm. Booking ahead is advised as numbers are limited. If you book online the cost of the Behind the Scenes tour is discounted to $58 per adult, $38 per child and $185 per family. This allows you access to the attraction, the 45 minute behind the scenes tour, commentary from a zoo keeper, some close encounters with the animal residents and access to some back of house rooms. To make a booking click here.
While you can see all of these animals with a general admission ticket, if you want an intimate guided tour and exclusive access to behind the scenes areas at the zoo then this is the tour for you.