One thing I knew I had to see on my Australia adventure is the Australia Zoo. I could not leave Brisbane for Darwin without spending a day at the zoo. Growing up Steve Irwin was one of the most exciting characters on TV. I always looked forward to seeing him on talk shows and watching his television programs. And of course him saying the term he made famous – crikey! He used to always talk about the Australia Zoo and how much he loved the animals. When he was tragically killed in 2006 I remember how upsetting it was for so many Americans. He was a true ambassador for Australia.
The zoo is only about an hour drive from Brisbane or two hours by bus and train. Luckily, I met an English girl who just moved to Brisbane for work and she happens to have a car. I told her I wanted to go to the zoo and invited her along. We headed out around 10 am. My excitement was not fully unleashed until I had my standard vanilla latte. We arrived at the zoo around 11 am, greeted by a huge picture of Steve Irwin at the entrance. I was like a kid in a candy store. The admission price was $59 AUD and it was worth every penny! I was really hoping to meet Bindi Irwin but I was told she is with her mother and brother in America for the Steve Irwin Gala Dinner, just my luck.
The two animals I most wanted to see were, of course, crocodiles and kangaroos. But the zoo had a lot more than that. I was immediately greeted by an employee holding a huge snake. I was not allowed to hold it but was allowed to pet it. The day continued with all kinds of animals. Some of my favorites were a Sumatran Tiger (who tragically went blind but has a great home at the zoo), Kangaroos, Tasmanian Devils, Cassowaries, Giraffes, Camels, Wombats, Red Pandas and many more! The zoo has many of the awesome animals native to Australia but also many native to Asia and Africa.
We also attended one of their famous shows at the Crocosuem! The show included many different types of amazing birds that were trained incredibly well. They would fly and swoop over the audience and then fly back to their trainers. The Macaws and the South American Condor were the most impressive. And of course the best part of the show was the crocodiles! They slowly swam out and eventually came on the land. At times the trainers were no more than 10 feet away. It was somewhat comforting to learn that crocs are much slower on land than in water but it did not make it less scary seeing them so close! It is hard to describe the sheer size of these reptile beasts. They also jumped out of the water to get food – propelling half their bodies out of the water!
Playing with and feeding the kangaroos was my favorite part of the zoo. Approaching them in the wild, as I have learned in Australia, is a very bad idea. The big ones can go on their tail and kick with enough force to brake ribs. They also have a huge claw in their kind legs that can gut you right open! The ones at the zoo are friendly and tame. You can buy “roo food” for a few dollars and feed them. I even managed to get an awesome roo selfie.
Another great part about the zoo is the staff. They were all incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. I spoke with one guy who has worked there for 15 years. He knew Steve Irwin and said that Steve knew the name of every single employee. The zoo employees hundreds of people.
If you are in or around Brisbane, I highly recommend taking a day and visiting the Australia Zoo. It is definitely worth the time. And who could pass up on an opportunity to play with kangaroos!