I am a world traveller & a mom of two, (8 & 6). I love to meet people, and am fascinated that there are 7 billion stories out there to be explored. I think Melbourne is the most happening city to live in with all the fun activities around town.
Published December 22nd 2014
Ready to meet the animals up close?
Modern day zoos have come a long way and have taken on the role of educating the masses about conservation of animals as one of their primary goals. In this context, different zoos have developed unique and fun programs to attract visitors. One such program at Taronga Zoo in Sydney is the Roar n Snore program, which is a fancy name for an overnight behind the scenes experience for its patrons.
Arrival at Taronga Zoo and meeting our hosts and fellow visitors for the first time
Our family recently had the opportunity to experience this delightful stay at the Taronga Zoo and each minute of the entire 16 hours was enjoyable indeed. From the warm welcome, to the comfortable tents and the delicious meals, not to mention the encounters with the animals, everything was meticulously organized and well presented. In addition, our host Zoo experts were not only friendly but also extremely knowledgeable and passionate about animals. The best bonus that comes with the experience are the beautiful vistas of the Sydney Harbour at sunset, sunrise and other times of the day and night.
The Roar n Snore camping site was extremely comfortable, overlooking the Sydney Harbour with magnificent views
The first thing we noticed when we arrived for the Roar n Snore experience at 6pm is how empty the zoo looks as compared to when it is open to the public, and at the same time, the sounds you begin to hear are extraordinary. The hosts guide the group to the camping site, which is a ten minute walk downhill from the main entrance, and welcome the group with some refreshments. There is an opportunity not only to meet and talk with the hosts, but also with the other visitors in the group. After refreshments, everyone gets to meet with the animals that the hosts handle so expertly. We saw some reptiles, insects and frogs and the children were delighted to have their photos taken with the animals.
Meet and Greet with animals, followed by buffet dinner
After the first encounter, it is time to head out for a delicious dinner, and the meal is served at another location, which is a function room for private events. We were served with mouth-watering salads, roasts and vegetables and soaked in the Sydney Harbour views as we ate. The sun setting over the Harbour Bridge was a sight to behold.
After dinner, it was time to head out and visit the animals in the darkness of the night. The sights and sounds at night time in a Zoo is an entirely different experience, and at the time of our visit, Taronga Zoo was hosting a special visit with the Dinosaurs, so at one point, it felt like we were in the movie Jurassic Park. We visited the lions, tiger, snow leopard, Himalayan mountain goats, tapirs, saltwater crocodile and learned all about their habits and habitats, adaptations, diets, and to make the talks ever so interesting, the hosts would share the stories of the specific animals in the zoos who all have names and history with the keepers.
After an hour and a half of visit with the animals, we headed back to the camping sight, where desserts awaited us, which we gladly welcomed and ate under the starry night before retiring to our tents for the night. The beds were comfortable and the toilets had all the amenities we needed. The cool breeze at night made the stay all the more pleasurable.
It was an early but absolutely delicious breakfast the next morning at 6:30am and we had to be packed and ready to vacate the premises by 7:30am. We spent the morning with the Big Cats again before heading to the Giraffe enclosure, where we had a photo opportunity while feeding them their breakfast: carrots. After the giraffes, we went to the Education Centre which is generally not open to public and is used for special educational programs with visitors. We had a chance to meet with tamarins, echidna, qokkas and a koala too. The last stop was at the recently built stunning Lemur exhibit after which the group went their own way and were welcome to spend the rest of the day at the zoo.
Close encounters with wildlife was part of the Roar n Snore morning schedule
Looking back, the Roar n Snore is an excellent program for so many reasons. I for one got to realise how much effort goes into running a zoo, from the financial aspect to the research and conservation programs which go on not only on site but overseas as well, and the sheer logistics of managing the animal enclosures is definitely a display of commitment and passion for animal wellbeing. Another benefit is to get a guided tour of parts of the zoo with a group of knowledgeable keepers who are thrilled to answer any question (even the silly ones). And because it is not something one can afford frequently, it might be an experience of a lifetime that the children will remember for the rest of their lives.