They have electric wire fences placed in ditches allowing the animals to be safe from us humans and giving us a taste of how they may live in the wild.
As you enter the park, the wild dogs of Africa can be seen. We were there on a day of 42 degree day, so unfortunately the wild dogs and some of the other animals were at the back of the enclosures. We took binoculars but you can hire them for around $15 at the zoo for 4 hours.
Next we visited the Black Rhino, and unfortunately you cant always depend on website information as we found out. We got the last of the Black Rhino feeding and information talk, and I now know that the Black Rhino has a pointed lip and the White Rhino has wider front lip, this is solely for eating purposes only. So now I can distinguish the difference.
Rhinos would have to be one of the most fascinating animals; they are so huge, and walk with such a thump when they move. They are like elephants; for example they roll in mud baths for sun protection.
This was only my second exhibit and I had spent more than 1/2 an hour at both.
On to everyone's favourite - the giraffe. Here you felt like you were with them. Did you know a giraffe is not born with its horns, they grow just after birth and a baby girrafe can be 2 metres high. To see them bend their legs to drink was very entertaining to my son, and a couple had a giraffe neck fight, with many thuds to be heard.
The Common Eland, an antelope, was our next visit. It is a very unusual animal from Africa, with black bandlike gatters on the back of their knees and twisted horns. They have a ridged mane down their backs and the females have a tan coat, while the males are darker with a blue/grey tinge. Males have fur on their foreheads and a dewlap on their throats (a hanging sack). In a herd, they make a clicking sound created by their hoofs which separate and the sound resonates as they lift their leg. Possibly a form of communication between herds.
Then we were hippo bound. They were hard to find as it was so hot (they spent their time underwater). I love their small little ears that twist and turn, and we waited until feeding time. When they came on land to eat and they seep a red bubble liquid which is their 'sunscreen' from the pores of their bodies.
The cheetah was a bit hard to find, He was lazing on the ground under a tree. You can see how they camoflague themselves in the wild. They are considered to be the fastest animal on 4 legs; they have a dew claw that is curved and used to snag their prey. Capable of reaching speed of 100km/hr, they need to recover from their chase before eating their prey and only eat fresh meat. Their prey includes gazelle and small antelopes.
The elephant enclosure was getting a make over so there were only 2 elephants on show. Tucked away behind the cheetah enclosure is a walk that takes you to a viewing platform; well worth a visit and they have telescopes for viewing.
The bongo is an interesting animal and I watched it scratch its back with its horns. They have stripes to confuse their prey and in a herd they blend and look like one. They are found in 10 countries from west to central Africa.
The Sumatran Tiger was so impressive. May I suggest that everyone must see the tiger feeding, they place a Hessian bag of food up a pole and the tiger goes straight up; the power and persistence of the tiger was mind blowing. Seeing the muscles of the front legs hold and the back legs sometimes bouncing, as the tiger pulls and grasps the bag, ripping its feed and climbing down the pole was amazing. The keeper amused us by saying if you are confronted by a tiger in the wild, just enjoy your last moments and the beauty of the tiger before being eaten. I think I would rather a lion chasing me after seeing what they can do.
The cheeky gibbons just behind the tigers are so amusing. They have such character; they swing with one arm and jump great distances, which explains how they get such arm-socket injuries in the wild. There was one real show off. I could have stayed here for hours and their call is amazing; it is like a car alarm going off.
The Greater one horn rhino was a bit shy and only showed us its rear end. Unfortunately I can't tell you much about this animal, except he's a bit larger than the other rhinos. The waterbuck made me laugh, it has a dartboard on its butt and stinks of a musky scent that definitely deters prey and we finished with lions who were very lazy.
There are so many animals to see - we did it in one day but passes are for 2 days. We didn't see the regulars like meerkats or roos. I was disappointed that the otters were nowhere to be seen - we had arrived after feeding time around 3pm, so all I can suggest is to ring the zoo before your visit and confirm feeding times before you go.
Over all the zoo is amazing, and like all places not all animals perform when requested, so with these small hiccups I rate Western Plain Zoo a 8/10 and that is on a hot day as we didn't see lemurs or spider monkeys as it was just too hot for them.
They have a wonderful children's playground called Safari Park, near the ticket office,