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Published October 2nd 2020
Fun for the whole family - not just the kids
Billabong Zoo: Koala & Wildlife Park is a 10 acre zoo that is located in Port Macquarie, just 15 minutes from the centre of town, on the way to Wauchope. The popular zoo opened in 1989 and is a major tourist attraction in the area. Inside the zoo, there are both Australian and exotic animals, with lions, monkeys, kangaroos, koalas and a variety of birdlife to admire. Today the zoo exhibits over 80 species and cares for over 220 animals.
My family visited Billabong Zoo during the spring school holidays and lined up at opening time with other families, excited to get in and start our day. Although it appeared that there were a lot of people with the same idea as us, we found that the property was so large inside, that it didn't feel crowded when we walked around. It then gave us plenty of time to stop at each animal and enjoy their cuteness or fierceness, depending on who we met...
We met a cute Red Panda...but a fierce looking emu!
After we paid the entry fee at the front desk, we were given a map and shown where the main attractions were. As we visited during the COVID-19 pandemic, there weren't any shows, however, we were told that keepers would be in various enclosures feeding the animals and would be available to answer any questions.
When we walked in, just inside the entrance was a foyer area with the food outlet, toilets and souvenir shop. Just outside the door from this area, was the Koala Breeding Centre to the right, as well as the Spider Monkeys to the left. There was also a playground for smaller children straight ahead - so the kids had plenty of options, just inside the front door!
We enjoyed watching the Spider Monkeys for a while, as the two monkeys sat like grumpy old men in front of their salad bowl, pulling out their favourite vegetables and throwing the ones they didn't like on the floor. It was amusing to watch their actions, as they had some very human characteristics.
A short walk further we discovered Monkey Mayhem, where we met the Common Marmoset, Pygmy Marmoset and Cotton-Top Tamarin monkeys, which were cute little hyperactive bundles of fluff, darting and jumping from tree to tree. In contrast, a little further on we met Shrek the Monster Croc, who was over 500kg and looked even bigger underwater!
There were a variety of different to paths to take around the zoo and everyone will find their own highlights. For our family, we stood for a long time at the Little Penguins, as they ducked and dived in the pool, getting quicker and quicker with each dive. We also fell in love with the two fluffy Fennec Foxes, who are the smallest fox species in the world - and the cutest!
Check out the penguins and the nocturnal Fennec Foxes
If you liked the Fennec Foxes, then you will also love the Meerkats as they scurry around their enclosure, periodically stopping to scramble to the top of a rock and look out for danger. Whilst in the area, also check out the dingoes and walk underground to have a look at the Southern Hairy-Nose Wombats in their usual state - fast asleep!
The Big Cat section was a major highlight of the zoo, for all of us. We saw two Cheetahs who were happily lazing in the shade, and then walked a little further to see a keeper inside the enclosure with a lioness. The keeper brought out various balls and chasing toys, which encouraged her predatory instinct. It was a fascinating insight into how keepers try to stimulate the animals using their natural instincts in the wild.
Next door was the Snow Leopard who woke up, stretched and then walked the perimeter of his stunning enclosure, looking for any intruders. Lastly, we saw the Red Pandas up the end, whose red fluffy coat stood out amongst the trees.
Watch the lioness and marvel at the Snow Leopard...
My daughter particularly enjoyed feeding the wallabies at Macropod Meadow,. We bought kangaroo food at the front desk when we entered for $2 a bag, or 3 for $5. When kangaroos and wallabies get tired of the attention, they have a fenced-off area that they can retreat to, for some alone-time away from people. There was also one emu behind a fence, who was always happy to have some roo food!
A few of the wallabies had joeys in their pouches, on our visit
Our family spent 3 hours at Billabong Zoo, which was the perfect length of time to see everything, plus go back to visit our favourite animals for a second time. If you have young children, in particular, Billabong Zoo is a good size to keep everyone happy, without getting too over-tired.
If you are in Port Macquarie, or travelling through, ensure you stop at this family attraction and support a local business. They are doing a wonderful job in helping the koala population as well as educating the public about animals and conservation.
My daughter summed it up perfectly when she hopped in the car to come home - "That was really cool," she said, "I loved it!"