I am always looking out for new experiences, wherever I may find myself.
Published August 1st 2014
With Brisbane's Alma Park Zoo closed and some of its animals housed here while it gets rebuilt at Logan, now is a great time to visit Queensland Zoo. Located just to the north of the city, at the Big Pineapple, it's probably more worthy of a visit than the big thing itself.
Queensland Zoo is right next to the Big Pineapple
Looking at the zoo from the Big Pineapple, it doesn't seem like much--a little small and not terribly exciting - as all you can see is the end with the farm animals. But I can reassure you it's actually better than it looks and there's more to see than you would expect, which justifies the price ($20.00 per adult entry). In fact, by the end of my visit I felt like I'd got some of my experiences pretty cheaply, if comparing them to Australia Zoo, which I had visited not long before.
Just under half the zoo is dedicated to farm animals, with this section called Sunshine Farm. Here you get to see cows, pigs and chickens, as well as some animals that are a little more exciting than others, like the miniature pony and the baby animals up in the barn (where you'll also find birds and rodents). This end is the part can that can be seen from the Big Pineapple, and it's also where you'll find kangaroos and emus, in areas you can walk through. For $2.00 you can buy some food at the entrance (to the Big Pineapple that is, not the zoo) and feed a lot of these animals.
Like mother like daughter.... or like father like son?
The other half of the zoo is where my visit got more exiting. After passing through a section of rainforest (you can do a longer walk through it, but the mention of paralysis ticks put me off) you get enclosures of some of the more exotic animals Queensland Zoo holds. The first animal up is not particularly exotic admittedly (the koala) but it got my attention because there were people in the enclosure holding it.
It turns out that for $20.00 you can have your photo taken holding a koala. The experience can be booked in advance, but if you've got exact money on you when you show up, it seems you can do it anyway (like I did). A few other photo experiences are also on offer at particular times of the day, so enquire about them when you arrive if you're interested (considering Australia Zoo charges $40.00 for the same experience on top of $59.00 admission, it's pretty cheap).
Other animals the zoo holds include a sun bear, red pandas, baboons and the Binturong, an animal I've only discovered while here in Queensland. It sort of looks like a mix between a cat and a bear, hence its nickname bearcat, though it's not related to either.
At end the very end of the zoo there are marmosets and tamarins. I happened to come across these as they were being fed, so I was lucky enough to be able to help out (along with the kids of course). We all stuck grapes and oats up to the cage as the monkeys scrambled around to get the food.
Enjoying the grape I just gave her
Though it's not huge, there are clearly some great experiences to be had at Queensland Zoo and you can definitely make a day out of your trip. If you want to bring lunch, there are picnic areas in the Sunshine Farm area and over near the sun bear enclosure where you can eat.
Take your time, stop and relax
Because it's part of the Big Pineapple, there are a few other things to do here that may as well be incorporated into a visit too. The first is of course the Big Pineapple, which I didn't realise you can actually get inside. It's nothing special within though and I can't imagine it's been updated recently, but across a few levels you get information on how pineapple crops are grown and the history of Golden Circle. You can also come out at the top, but the views are limited to the surrounding complex.
A little more exiting is the Big Pineapple Cane Train ride. On the one hand it's just a way to get down to the zoo from the Big Pineapple, and the two attractions are hardly far apart, but it is also an experience in itself (which is why you have to pay for it). In fact, it was actually better than I expected and a running commentary talks you through some of the fruits you pass (including the pineapple) and a brief insight into the Big Pineapple's past.
There's a fruit thief around, and you can help spot him from the train