It has been 12 years since I last visited Australia Zoo. Even though I live less than a 30-minute drive away, somehow visiting the zoo has never really been high on my agenda. I had heard lots about the new attractions and animal displays from friends and family, so I finally decided it was time to spend a day checking out Australia Zoo again. We visited on February 23, the day after the birthday of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin.
Steve Irwin put Australia Zoo on the map, making it one of the top places to visit in Queensland to see animals. Visiting Australia Zoo is one of the things to do on the Sunshine Coast for families and visitors who like wildlife.
Steve Irwin passed away in July 2006 and as a resident of the Sunshine Coast, I’m proud to say that his legacy lives on in Australia Zoo.
We visited on a Tuesday, which turned out to be perfect as it wasn’t too crowded.
We followed the map to the otter enclosure.
Along the way, we encountered several members of the Wandering Wildlife team and a delightful medley of wildlife.
The best thing about these roving wildlife carers is we were able to touch the wildlife and stand next to them.
There’s nothing quite like getting your photo snapped beside a beautiful eagle.
We also met a blue-tongued lizard, a python and saw a cheetah on its walk in the African safari section.
After wandering around for the day, here are:
Three things you shouldn’t miss at Australia Zoo
1- Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors show
If there’s one thing you should make sure to see while visiting Australia Zoo, it’s the show at 12 noon.
The show opens with an impressive display of Macaws flying around the arena and other birds perform magnificently too during the show.
While the birds were inspiring, everyone knows that Australia Zoo is famous for its crocodile show.
Watching a huge crocodile leap out and snap its jaws at a dead chicken is still exciting, even if you know exactly what’s about to occur.
Australia Zoo has 13 tigers and 10 tiger handlers.
I’ve always thought that being a tiger handler must be the next best thing to being a travel writer.
So, while waiting for the tiger show to begin, I chatted to one of the tiger handlers.
He pointed to the three tiger handlers in the tiger enclosure.
I soon discovered that two of the three tiger handlers had reared this particular tiger, Ranu since the tiger was a cub.
It turned out the tiger handler I was chatting to started working at Australia Zoo as a volunteer.
He showed a strong aptitude to work with tigers (and the tigers accepted him) and was later hired to work at the zoo as a tiger handler.
It was also great to see that Australia Zoo takes tiger conservation seriously.
Tigers are in serious trouble.
The world has lost three sub-species of tiger – the Balinese, Caspian and Javanese tigers.
100 years ago there were over 100,000 tigers in the wild.
Today, there are less than 5000 tigers left in the wild and only 400 Sumatran tigers.
Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors supports Fauna & Flora International’s (FFI) tiger conservation program to save the Sumatran tiger in Kerinci Seblat National Park (KSNP) by providing rangers with vehicles and equipment, such as global positioning systems (GPS) and digital cameras along with veterinary drugs, uniforms and spotlights.
3- Koala Walkthrough
The Koala Walkthrough is really well organised and is a fantastic spot to see koalas at eye level.
Spotting a koala in the wild is not that difficult but getting a close look at them can be tough, as they are often high up on a branch.
At the Koala Walkthrough, you’ll get an eyeful of these cuddly koalas perched on tree branches right at eye level.
The koalas are so used to people they don’t even wake up, even when there’s a huge crowd staring at them.
4- Baby white rhino
Humphrey the white rhino calf is the newest member of Australia Zoo’s African savannah, home to giraffes, rhinos and zebras.
Humphrey was born in October 2015 and already weighs 200 kilograms.
5- Two tiger cubs
Australia Zoo has two new tiger cubs.
Critically endangered Sumatran tiger, Kaitlyn, had two her second litter of cubs in February 2016.
6- Koala Chlamydia vaccine
This vaccine was recently trialled at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital to vaccinate koalas that already have Chlamydia and potentially halt or reverse the effects of the disease.
Chlamydial affects koalas through causing blindness, inflammation of the bladder and cystic reproductive tract disease in females causing infertility.
What can be improved at Australia Zoo?
The tiger enclosure needs to be better organised to provide a clearer view of the tiger during the demonstration.
During our visit, we discovered the zoo had cheetahs but their cheetah enclosure isn’t open to the public. We saw a couple of keepers walking a cheetah on a lead.
I do hope Australia Zoo’s cheetahs have a large enough space to run.
Having seen cheetahs in the Maasai Mara in Kenya as well as the Serengeti in Tanzania, I was disappointed there was no cheetah enclosure at Australia Zoo.
What we missed at Australia Zoo
The Wildlife Hospital
A behind-the-scenes tour of the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital would have been awesome.
The hospital opened in 2004 and money raised from this tour goes directly to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital.
Tour the rhino’s backyard, cheetah enclosure and other back of house areas on a Segway.
Discover Australia Zoo
Australia Zoo is located on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, about a one hour drive north of Brisbane.
Australia Zoo costs $59 (adults), $47 (seniors and students) and $36 (child). There’s a lot to see in the zoo. You could easily spend the entire day and go back for a second day.
If you’re interested in volunteering at the zoo read this.