Raptor Domain provides rehabilitation for sick, injured, and orphaned raptors from all over Australia and aims to release as many recovered birds back into the wild as possible. Those deemed unfit for release, however, find sanctuary at Raptor Domain and become ambassadors for their species as part of the In-Flight Birds of Prey Presentation.
It is, quite possibly, the most astounding wildlife experience to be had on Kangaroo Island. To witness the impressive birds of prey in action, and at such close proximity, is a unique opportunity and one not to be missed. Raptor Domain also has a Fang-Tastic Reptile Encounter that is equally interactive, educational, and entertaining.
Visitors are welcomed at the entrance of Raptor Domain in Seal Bay by an enormous set of outstretched corrugated iron wings. From there it is a short drive along a dirt road to the on-site car park. Surrounded by dense native bush, it is a delightfully rustic and environmentally sound set up. The main service area is basically a large tin shed filled with tables and chairs. This is where you can purchase tickets, shop for souvenirs, check out images of the animals, and have coffee and cake while you wait for the show to begin.
The In-Flight Birds of Prey Presentation is held in an outdoor arena with seating that is protected from the elements by shade cloth. The show lasts for about an hour in which time you will be provided with much information, insight, and interesting facts about the birds. This includes history dating back to the ancient art of falconry to the 20th century persecution of wedge-tail eagles. Considered vermin at the time, it is estimated that more than a million were killed by farmers over a 50 year period; thankfully the wedge-tail eagle is now largely protected in Australia.
Each show is slightly different as the birds are alternated so as not to be overwhelmed or overworked. On any occasion, you may meet Wally the tawny frogmouth, Hobbit the hobby falcon, Casper the barn owl, Jedda the wedge-tail eagle, Banjo and Clancy the laughing kookaburras, and other birds of prey. During the presentation the birds are fed and exercised by flying around the arena and hunting mock prey. Visitors are able to see the birds up close, pat them, and sometimes even hold them on a glove.
After the show, and for an additional $10 fee which contributes to the care of rescued birds, there was the option to hold and have photographs taken with one of the newest recruits to Raptor Domain, a juvenile wedge-tail eagle called Nellie. If ever offered this opportunity, do take it as it is very rare to be able to hold a wedge-tail eagle for yourself and provides a much greater appreciation of their strength and power.
Nellie is a lot bigger than you expect a juvenile to be. With an age gap of over 20 years between Nellie and Jedda, there is little difference in size because eagles are required to bulk up very quickly to survive in the wild. The main difference between the juvenile and mature bird is the colouring. Nellie's feathers are a light brown colour which will darken with age to become black like Jedda's.
The birds of prey display is by far the highlight, but the Fang-Tastic Reptile Encounter is well worth its ticket cost. During the 45 minute demonstration in the undercover presentation area, visitors are able to hold and learn more about some of Australia's reptiles such as the eastern blue-tongue, shingleback lizard, bearded dragon, Children's python, and Murray Darling carpet python.
If you're apprehensive to handle reptiles, don't be. The inquisitive creatures are gentle and good natured. The show aims to debunk myths surrounding snakes and replace fear with a healthy dose of respect and understanding. It is really quite fascinating watching them slither around and on a hot sunny day their cool skin is refreshing to the touch.
Both the birds of prey and the reptile demonstrations raise awareness for the animals and their vital role in the ecosystem. Kudos to the keepers at Raptor Domain who all seem hugely knowledgeable and wildly passionate about what they do. Their commitment to the welfare of our native wildlife and preservation of the environment is inspiring.
As well as birds and reptiles, Raptor Domain is also home to Talons, an eatery that claims to serve Australia's best lobster burger. The menu is comprised mostly of gourmet burgers (including a vegetarian option) with a few other items available like hot dogs, vegetable dim sims, and chicken nuggets. Meals are reasonably priced with nothing over $20 and are served with a friendly smile. Surrounded by seating and shady trees, Talons is a lovely spot for a bite to eat and takes orders upon arrival so your meal is ready after the show.
Raptor Domain is open every day (excluding Christmas day) and the shows offer exceptional value for money. The In-Flight Birds of Prey Presentation is held at 11.30am and 2.30pm and tickets cost $15.00 for adults and $10.00 for children. The Fang-Tastic Reptile Encounter is held at 1pm and tickets cost $10.00 for adults and $8.00 for children.
Located just off Seal Bay Road, it is approximately a 45 minute drive from Kingscote and only 10 minutes to Seal Bay Conservation Park and the Little Sahara sand dunes. Please visit the Raptor Domain website for bookings and more information.