A visit to Australia Zoo in Queensland, Australia

Australia is home to many unique flora and fauna, and I wanted to visit a zoo while I was there. I ultimately decided on the Australia Zoo; when I was looking around for places to go to in Australia, I knew I had to narrow down my choices to maximize my time. As I was going to both Brisbane and Sydney, I had three choices:

I came across a forum post then about the differences of each zoo, and finally settled on Australia Zoo, in Beerwah, Queensland. After all, the Singapore Zoo, which I’ve been to a number of times, already has a fairly international selection. Since I am in Australia, I should focus on Australian flora and fauna.

My friend and I took an express train from Nundah to Beerwah station. It is $10 on the go card, and the journey took us about an hour. We then took the Australia Zoo courtesy coach from Beerwah station to the zoo proper. (My friend had emailed ahead to confirm the courtesy bus timings.)

Initially we were going to go to Australia Zoo on a weekday, but we decided to bump it forward instead. This was a good thing, as it looks like it might be a little too quiet on weekdays.

We booked the encounters first when we arrived, as we were interested in the Tiger Cub Encounter that was available at the time, and the slots were going fast. Initially I wanted to do the Koala Encounter, but as one could pet koalas outside of the encounter as well as have a photo taken carrying one at select times, I gave it a pass.

After arranging our animal encounter, we took the Safari Shuttle to Africa, which is at the far end of the zoo. The shuttle goes through a back path: no animals on show, but we saw the Crocodile Rescue Unit gate. Most suggest doing this early, and I agree–there is very little shade on the way and in Africa proper, and after this we walked back towards the front of the zoo looking at the animals.

Hello giraffe Zebras Rhinos

We passed by the tigers on the way back from the Africa, but as we were going to visit them in the afternoon during the encounter, we didn’t stay long.

We popped into the koala walk, where there are liberal misting fans and showers for the koalas…who were mostly asleep. Koalas eat only eucalyptus leaves, which is poison for all other animals. Apparently, the enzymes that break down this poison take so much energy, that they are so exhausted after eating that they go back to sleep after.

Sleepy koala

Their coats are so soft.

We packed a few sandwiches and had lunch before heading to the Crocoseum, where the noontime show is held. The show focuses on Australian birds and crocodiles. I didn’t have any good shots as we were fairly high up, but we had guests of our own.

This bird flew up and perched on my head after I took this shot.

A little too close for comfort

Thankfully the lizard did not follow suit.

We went on to have our tiger cub encounter. We went early and watched the handlers play with the cubs–nicknamed Stripes and Spot–with things like fallen coconut branches, cat toys, balls, etc. You know all those cute kitten playing videos? It looked just like that. Only they’re the size of full grown cats.

After a while the kittens cubs grew tired and started napping on the cool cement in the middle of their enclosure. That was our cue; they led us in and let us pat/stroke the cubs’ backs, taking photos, and telling us about the cubs, tiger preservation, and answering our questions.

Sleepy cub time

Their coats are wiry.

We went back to the adult tigers afterward, to catch the tiger show. There were already quite a few people on the bleachers 30 minutes from the start of the show, so we squeezed into one side and waited.

Sumatran tiger

I was really impressed with the tiger show. Instead of a carnival-type show as I initially expected, it was more of a live lecture on the tigers, their life in the zoo, and tiger preservation. They talked about things like encouraging tigers to exhibit/do instinctive actions like rearing up, lying down, and the like for things like doctor inspections (while the doctor stays outside the enclosure). All encouragement is done with some milk, which they like (but should not have too much of).

(Here is a brief video sample near the end of the show.)

After the show, we went back down to the kangaroos to feed them. These are lazy kangaroos. I think they are all very full from all the tourists feeding them.

Hello kangaroo

I did not feel their coats.

It wasn’t quite this :P

We also saw tasmanian devils, clicker training dingoes, and of course a good number of crocodiles. They are not very photogenic. I’m sorry, but I don’t have any photos of them.

A proper zoo

I really enjoyed my day in Australia Zoo. My friend and I had heard of a few bad reviews of the place, how there wasn’t a lot of things to do, how far away all the attractions seemed. I think it’s all a matter of perspective: international/city zoos probably do a lot better with animal variety and density, and might be a good place to bring the kids to if you’re keen to give them their first glance at the variety of Earth fauna.

But personally, I could feel just how well-cared for the animals were. The walk around the different enclosures were not overly long, and I felt it was a good balance between space for the animals (imagine having humans looking at you all the time, won’t you feel trapped and claustrophobic?) and comfortable walking distnce for humans. There was little fanfare (none contrived) and tricks during the shows that we watched: everything was focused on taking care of the animals and of the environment and habitats they (and we) live in. We were able to speak with the tiger handlers while at the tiger cub encounter, and their love and care for the tigers and their habitats were clearly sincere, and I can only imagine this love is present with all the handlers, whatever their duties are.

Overpriced? I suppose it depends on what you’re after by going to the Australia Zoo. It was not overpriced to me and I felt satisfied at the end of the day, that my money was very well spent. If I lived in Queensland I think I would even opt for an annual pass.

(Note that they offer two-day passes, with the second day consumable anytime within 14 days of the first day’s consumption. If you’re getting the annual pass, just two visits a year (over 14 days apart) and you’ve already saved a good deal.)

  • Adult day pass: A$59 (roughly S$68 / P2420)
  • Two-day adult pass: A$89 (roughly S$103 / P3653)
  • Annual pass/membership: A$99 (roughly S$115 / P4063)

I think those are pretty good deals and the zoo is certainly worth checking out, especially if you’re visiting Australia and you’re keen to experience some Australian wildlife.

And feed kangaroos.

Kangaroo feeding

A whimsical rating:

  Definitely worth going to, put this into your itinerary!