Of all the Adelaide attractions, there’s none as warm and fuzzy as visiting the pandas in Adelaide Zoo. All eyes are on cute pandas Funi and Wang Wang as they chew nonchalantly on bamboo, unfazed by hundreds of excited visitors at Adelaide Zoo.
The pandas wander freely between their cool climate-controlled day rooms and landscaped outdoor enclosures designed to resemble a panda’s natural habitat with waterfalls, chilled rocks, caves and grassy areas.
It’s a bit like Monarto Zoo, only smaller.
Separating Funi and Wang Wang is a glass-panelled entrance to the pandas’ private rooms and where I meet keeper one of the zoo keepers for the VIP Panda Tour.
Adelaide Zoo VIP Panda Tour
The cool room is stocked with bamboo, pears, apples and carrots. But Funi’s favourite is panda cake made from flour, ground-up bamboo, eggs, salt, sugar and water.
The daily training programme is done in an area behind specially designed bars. The aim is to prepare the pandas for breeding in a couple of years.
Temperatures are taken twice a day and they are being trained to enable vets to draw blood once a week.
Funi is trained to lie down on her side so that the vet can perform an ultrasound without using anesthetic. The big challenge for her carers is trying to get her to urinate on cue!
Funi munches on the pear pieces that the zoo keeper puts in her mouth as rewards for standing, sitting and lying still, while, I lean through the bars to touch her stomach.
She looks contented and happy and is so cute I want to go behind the bars and give her a big cuddle. She looks up at me and for a moment, I think she’s smiling.
Adelaide Zoo prices
Adelaide Zoo’s one-hour VIP Panda Tour costs $500 per person and lasts one hour and 25 minutes. The minimum age for the experience is 16. It’s a great way to get really close to the pandas and an experience you’ll always remember.