The Best Wildlife Parks to Visit in Australia
Tips and Guides, Australia, Wildlife,
Australia is known throughout the world for being home to a wide array of fascinating wildlife. There truly is an astonishing variety of spectacular animals and creatures to discover, some more friendly than others! As such, there is a bevy of must-visit wildlife parks and zoos located across this vast country, making for some excellent destinations to visit as a part of any to Oz. So to help you decided which ones you would like to see, and which ones you would just like to learn more about, we have assembled this very guide to the best wildlife parks to visit in Australia.
The Australian Reptile Park
Situated on Sydney’s Central Coast, is considered one of the country’s most exciting attractions and is home to an abundance of exotic reptiles, as well as a variety of native Australian animals. The Australian Reptile Park is a hands-on adventure, and the park were happy to go into details about what they have to offer:
“Offering unique hands-on encounters, incredible shows and much more – The Australian Reptile Park is an experience like never before. Elvis the Crocodile wows visitors in his feed, being almost 5 metres long! And Hugo the tortoise loves receiving his pats. Not to mention the Funnel-Web Spider and Snake milkings – a crucial program the park partakes in, responsible for saving the lives of many. Watch as the keepers display both techniques during their respected shows, or get up close and personal with the cuddly kangaroos, koalas, quokkas and Tasmanian devils!”
When asked what they believe sets them apart from other wildlife parks, they told us: “The anti-venom programs are extremely educational and exciting. We’re the only park in Australia that milks venomous snakes and Funnel-Webs for the anti-venom. We also have an incredible Tasmanian devil program, Devil Ark, in which we are breeding the devils for an insurance population. Conservation is our passion and we strive to educate our visitors on staying safe during snake and spider seasons, as well as the importance of our Australian wildlife.
“Australia has the highest mammal extinction rate in the world, and we encourage our guests to help fight this with us. People can expect to see some of the most dangerous animals in the world, including the likes of a King Cobra, a reticulated python, 40 alligators in our lagoon, the MASSIVE Elvis the croc, there’s plenty to see!”
Image credit: Adrian Mann Zoos SA
With its doors opening in 1883, is the second oldest in Australia and is one of two parks in our guide from . Zoos SA is a conservation charity and visitors to Adelaide Zoo will see the fruits of this endeavour at this vibrant city sanctuary that is home to an intimate zoo experience.
Zoos SA Chief Executive, Elaine Bensted, spoke with us about what travellers can expect from Adelaide Zoo, including the wonderful variety of wildlife that calls the zoo home:
“Only a short walk from the Adelaide CBD and steeped in more than 135 years of history, Adelaide Zoo spans over eight hectares and is home to more than 2500 animals and 250 different species of natives and exotic mammals, birds, reptiles and fish – including Australia’s only Giant Pandas, Wang Wang and Fu Ni. Where else in Australia can you step off a busy CBD street and in minutes be knee-high to a giraffe, sharing lunch with a Ring-tailed Lemur or feel the wind on your face from the wings of a Blue and Gold Macaw as it flies just centimetres from you? Adelaide Zoo can also lay claim to being South Australia’s leading tourism attraction, crowned the Major Tourism Attraction of the Year at the South Australian Tourism Awards.”
Image credit: Adrian Mann Zoos SA
As mentioned, Zoos SA also offers another wonderful wildlife experience in Australia, this time known as . This massive open-range zoo is quite the sight and you can actually fit all other major Australia zoos within its confines. Once again, Elaine Bensted was on hand to reveal what visitors can look forward to seeing:
“As one of the world’s largest open range zoos and Australia’s biggest, spanning more than 1500 hectares and home to more than 500 animals, Monarto Zoo is South Australia’s very own slice of Africa, all within an hour's drive of Adelaide. Home to many of Africa’s most impressive animals like African lions, White Rhinos, giraffe, chimpanzees and cheetah, Monarto Zoo offers a unique safari experience for young and old alike. We’re home to one of Australia’s largest lion prides and giraffe herds, and with our recent giraffe births, we are the most successful giraffe breeding facility in Australasia. Plus, with Monarto Zoo’s recently launched Lions 360 experience which allows visitors to step into the lion’s den and come nose-to-nose with Africa’s most impressive predator, there’s never been a better time to visit.”
Territory Wildlife Park
Providing incredible insight into Australia’s tropical diversity and a wonderful chance to witness the fascinating world of the wilderness, is certainly a must-visit during your holiday to Australia. The Top End of Australia’s Northern Territory is considered to be one of the country’s final frontiers and home to some truly astonishing natural beauty and this is exactly where we find Territory Wildlife Park.
Simon Ferguson, the Manager of Visitor Experience at the park, says that: “The Territory Wildlife Park, an initiative of the Northern Territory Government, was opened in 1989 as an opportunity for visitors to experience the three main habitat types found in the Top End, and the Wildlife that calls these habitats home. The Park itself consists of a number of constructed exhibits and natural exhibits that show off an array of amazing species.”
Beyond the fascinating Nocturnal House and the Monsoon Forest habitat available, one of Territory Wildlife Park’s most exciting and attractive features has to be its aquarium, where, as Simon Ferguson describes: “The viewer starts in the small pools of the Sandstone Escarpment and works their way down to the larger rivers, into the mangroves before heading out to the coral reefs. Species include Fresh and Saltwater Crocodiles, Whiprays, Pig-nosed Turtles, Barramundi, Saratoga, Rainbow Fish, Glassfish and much, much more!”
Taronga Western Plains Zoo
Situated in Duboo, central west New South Wales, is the home of hundreds of incredible animals from all corners of the world and is notable for its natural bushland and massive open exhibits, providing a great sense of scale and freedom to animals and visitors alike.
For more information about this wonderful wildlife destination, we heard from Taronga Western Plains Zoo themselves about what makes their park so special:
“Taronga Western Plains Zoo is a 300-hectare sanctuary that plays a vital role in national and international conservation programs for rare and endangered species, and is home to hundreds of animals from around the world! You’ll spot African lions, Sumatran tigers, giraffe, meerkat, rare black rhinos and so many more incredible species in this animal oasis. Visitors can explore the six kilometre circuit that meanders through natural bushland and around large open-style exhibits by car or on foot, by bike or by cart (available for hire). The Zoo is open from 9am-4pm every day of the year.”
And regarding what makes them unique in terms of Australia’s wildlife parks, Taronga told us: “Taronga Western Plains Zoo is well-known for its open-style exhibits, animal breeding and conservation programs and amazing visitor experiences.
Image credit: Rick Stevens
“The multiple ways to get around and explore also make this Zoo an incredibly unique experience; visitors can see all that the Zoo has to offer on foot, by bike, safari cart or their own vehicle! Tickets to the Zoo are valid for two consecutive days, giving visitors ample time to see everything that the Zoo has to offer, and nine free Keeper Talks daily are included in the cost of entry. Animal encounters with giraffe, meerkat and rhinos can be booked in addition to admission for up-close experiences.
“There’s more, though... Visitors to the Zoo after March 2018 can experience the much-anticipated African Lion Pride Lands; a $9 million exhibit offering a visitor experience like no other! Home to a pride of eight majestic African lions, the exhibit offers unforgettable viewing opportunities for visitors looking across to the lions as they survey their domain.
“Pride Lands takes visitors on a journey to an African Masai village with a nearby walk-through goat kraal, lifelike African sculptures and transformative audio visual elements for all ages. A must-do at Pride Lands is a ride on the Pride Lands Patrol; a purpose-built vehicle that promises a ride to remember as it journeys the exhibit amongst the lion pride!”
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Image credit: Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Just outside Brisbane City, is quite the special location. A truly fantastic destination in the field of wildlife attractions, this koala sanctuary is home to a vast number of these iconic creatures. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary spoke to us about what sets them apart from other wildlife parks and what visitors can look forward to seeing:
“Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the world's first and largest koala sanctuary, established in 1927 and home to 130 koalas. We are also home to 100 species of other native Australian wildlife, including wombats, dingoes, Tasmanian devils, cassowary, emus, platypus, and a range of bird and reptile species. We pride ourselves on offering our guests the opportunity to get up close and personal with our animals, in beautiful, natural surrounds, right on the banks of the Brisbane River.
“We are one of the few places in Australia where you can still hold a koala, alongside other experiences such as hand-feeding our 150 kangaroos and wild lorikeets, seeing our playful platypus, and enjoying a range of shows like our Free Flight Raptor Show and Sheepdog Show. We aim to foster meaningful connections between our guests and wildlife, and hope that everyone who visits the sanctuary goes home with a new appreciation and respect for animals and their habitats.”
A trip to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, as you can see, has plenty to offer, and is certainly an experience not to miss out on.
Featherdale Wildlife Park
in Sydney is a truly special wildlife experience and has been delighting visitors since 1972. Featherdale Wildlife Park has secured itself as Australia’s largest collection of native animals and with a strong commitment to conservation and educational programmes, the park has become known for its success stories in preserving Australian wildlife. And in terms of the visitor experiences available, Featherdale Wildlife Park told us:
“Featherdale is Australia’s premier wildlife experience. We offer an intimate, hands-on setting for visitors to meet and greet with Aussie animals. Visitors can feed the roos, pat a koala and interact up-close with the diverse range of wildlife Australia has to offer.
“Featherdale provides a home to over 1,700 Australian native animals from more than 250 different species and serves as Australia’s largest native collection. Focusing solely on native animals, at Featherdale you will find the largest collection of koalas in New South Wales, three open space enclosures filled with kangaroos and wallabies, as well as loads of other iconic Australian animals, such as dingos, echidnas, wombats, bilbies, Tasmanian devils, reptiles and a stunning collection of birds from Australia and around the world.”
The park also is able to monitor fertility, injuries and illness among these amazing animals – a sign of the important work being done here. All of the species at the park, including global favourites such as reptiles and kangaroos, can be visited daily along with expert talks and presentations to improve understanding of the animals during your visit.
Alice Springs Desert Park
Image credit: Alice Springs Desert Park
Performing a key role in showcasing to the world Central Australia’s magnificent wildlife, including truly unique flora and fauna, is another exciting Australian destination not to miss out on.
Welcoming both visitors from afar and the local community, the facilities at Alice Springs allow guests to truly immerse themselves in this beautiful natural setting. With both educational programmes and exciting interactive exhibits available, this is a great attraction at which to learn more about Australia’s natural world.
For those looking to spend a fascinating afternoon ensconced in a thriving wildlife scene, Alice Springs Desert Park truly ticks all the boxes. The park spoke to us about the exciting world that awaits visitors, telling us that for those that want to get a true understanding of Australia’s central desert environment, with its majestic blend of birds, plants and animals that Alice Spring proves to be quite the extraordinary experience. With the help of local guides, visitors can look forward to some great wildlife viewing.