If you have time during a visit to the ACT, a trip to the National Zoo and Aquarium may be worth a look; especially if you have children. It is a pleasant 15-20 minute drive to reach the zoo located on the outskirts of Canberra past the Scrivener Dam to the west of the city. Entrance to the zoo is a little expensive by American standards but pretty typical for Australia. The entrance fee is $23.50AUS per person or if you have your family you can pay $69.50 to get the whole family in which may be a good bargain for those with large families.
The zoo is a good introduction to Australian wildlife if you have never been to a zoo in Australia before. It contains all the standard Aussie wildlife such as kangaroos, koalas, tasmanian devils, emus, etc. However, the zoo contains other popular zoo wildlife as well, such as giraffes, llamas, lions, cheetahs, etc. It’s most unusual animal in fact maybe the tigons, which are the offspring between a lion and a tiger. It is illegal to breed tigons, but these tigons were actually bred in a circus before being discovered and then taken to the National Zoo to live out there days there:
Besides the native Australian wildlife and the typical zoo attractions, the zoo also has a large aquarium to familiarize people with the vast amounts of aquatic life that lives in Australian waters. The aquarium was probably my favorite part of the zoo. The aquarium had plenty of sharks for visitors to gawk at and some absolutely enormous fish:
Another nice feature of the zoo is that there is an area where you can walk freely with the kangaroos and the emus. When I pulled out my camera to take a picture of this kangaroo, he actually hopped over directly in front of me and started flexing his muscles in a pose. It was a bit startling at first because I didn’t know if he wanted to fight or not since I wasn’t familiar with kangaroos at the time. However, he just stood there and kept striking a pose for me and then went on his own way again:
The emus on the other hand pretty much just ignore you and go about their business. They are quite large, in fact they are the world’s second largest birds behind the ostrich of Africa, and could probably give you a pretty good injury if you got them mad enough. Here at the zoo they are friendly enough to walk up to them and get a good picture:
No Australian zoo would be complete without koalas. The koalas at this zoo are quite shy and I was actually only able to see one of them in this tree. Koalas if you didn’t know sleep up to 20 hours a day because the eucalyptus leaves they eat in the gum trees have very few vitamins in them thus not providing much energy for the koalas. To conserve energy the koalas sleep constantly and really only wake up when they are eating. As you can see this guy was actually a wake when I got a picture of him.
The Tasmanian Devil was probably the strangest animal I saw because the animal would not stop running around. It stayed in constant motion the whole time, quickly running around his enclosure along the same path and direction. The tasmanian devils are only found on the island of Tasmania and are meat eaters. They have powerful jaws for tearing up meat, but they are not hunters. They are actually scavengers and eat dead animals they find. They are also marsupials, just like most of the Australian wildlife, meaning they are distantly related to both kangaroos an koalas:
The most unique aspect of this zoo is that you can actually pet and feed some of the animals. Sounds pretty cool, right? Well it comes at a cost and the cost is a whopping $150 dollars. For $150AUS dollars you can pet and feed some of the animals like the lions and cheetahs at the zoo. That was well out of my price range, but it was in the price range of many other people there though. When the zoo keeper announced that she was now taking reservations to feed and pet the animals you could instantly see all the kids pulling on their dads coats pleading to let them feed and pet the animals. The zoo must be making some pretty good additional income from this program because a lot of parents spent the $150 bucks to let their child play with the animals.
Overall, like I said before if you haven’t been to an Australian zoo then this a good place to acquainted with Australian wildlife. There are better zoos out there, but even the better zoos I have seen don’t have the program where you can pet and feed the animals, which is definitely a unique aspect to this zoo that may be of interest to some people out there. So if you have a half a day to kill in the Canberra area a trip to the National Zoo is good way to spend it.
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