Crikey...Another Zoo!

Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
Trip End Jan 04, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Monday, October 24, 2011

I'm stating it now and I won't say it again. This is the last zoo we will visit on this trip. There was talk of visiting a Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, it is now cancelled. I cannot handle another zoo - I am starting to become numb by the experience. The animals at this zoo are lucky because on the whole they were cute and different to those I have seen in the last few weeks, but I have seen them now and therefore the zoo thing is done. Finito. Complete. Zip. Easy.

The bus (owned by Greyhound in their drive to take over the world - they have hought out OzExperience in the past few days also) was one of the better ones on the Greyhound fleet. With a big Steve pasted down the side we took the 'courtesy' bus to the zoo. It's free don't you's free to get you to the zoo. It's a free bus for the zoo. It will cost you $5 each to get home from the zoo..true.. but the bus to the zoo is as free as it gets. I enjoyed the 40 minutes of Steve shouting 'Crikey' a lot and manhandling crocodiles on the small screen of the bus and I'll be honest in admitting I was never a big fan first time around, and as Steve won't be releasing anything anytime soon I'm not sure if I will become a true fan but I am impressed with how dedicated to the cause he was - mildly irritating, but dedicated.
Being English it's easy to forget how big Steve Irwin was when he was around. Here in Australia, and especially at Australia Zoo you cannot forget - the place is dedicated to him.
His face is everywhere, it's on the posters, it's on the leaflets, it's on the buses. He is an icon.

At the zoo we used our printed discount tickets for the zoo (promotional code 'Crocs' to get a 15% discount) which reduced the hefty $59 each down to a slightly more reasonable but still extortionate for us poor unfortunate Brits, $51. Once again, it isn't expensive if you work here and get paid in AUD, however if you get paid in any other currency, it's like daylight robbery.

Australian animals are somehow better than other animals. Kangaroos are laid back and cool. Koalas are the most drugged up cute things you will possibly ever see and they just don't do anything. If my previous blog about Pandas being pointless is something to go by, Koalas do less. Kookaburras are the Fonzie of the bird world, backed up by a cast of fantastic tropical birds and the Crocodile is the Achilles of the animal world - a killing machine which can be tamed by holding it's mouth shut. The tasmanian devil is the only real dissapointment, being nothing like that in the cartoon.

I would like to say that the show, put on by the very enthusiastic keepers of Australia Zoo, in the biggest arena I have ever seen in a zoo, was excellent - but I found it a little dissapointing and without any real 'trick' content. I was hoping to see men putting their heads in crocodiles mouths and seeing a crocodile jump out of the water and grab one of the tropical birds in mid flight - but nothing of the sort. It was a bit of a parade of the animals on show in the zoo and the enthusiasm and humour of the human contingent are the only things that really gave the show any depth. It simply did not compare to the Elephants at Singapore (or the kids playtime dog and cat show of the same zoo - but for different reasons). As the only show of the day I was expecting much more, and so I would say a thumbs down for that bit.

We managed to work our way through all the numbers on the map visiting all the animals with ease as the zoo wasn't as big as we thought it would be. Kate loved the kids area...again.... and we spent a long time feeding Kangaroos and getting right up close to them. Kate fed the elephants also and we both patted Koalas. The Koalas are rotated throughout the day to make sure one is not patted too much and so you often hear the keepers having to control people that can't read signs by saying politely "Sorry you can't pat Frankie right now as he may get a little grouchy, we're patting Rosie for the next hour". Frankie was at this point high as a kite on Eucalyptus and doesn't even know he is a Koala and so I can understand why he may be grouchy. I am pretty sure I witnessed the keeper check to see if the Koalas eye's were bloodshot to check whether or not they were ready for a patting session.They were still cute.

We both were mildly irritated by an oriental group of some kind who can somehow read that 'Roo food' is for sale as they bought some, but could not read the sign directly underneath that said "Only to be used for feeding Kangaroos" as they felt the need to feed the Emu's with it. One of the keepers politely told them to refrain from doing so and after discussion the group stopped. At first the group partially argued saying that the Emu clearly likes the roo food. It would. It's a bloody animal you fool. The Australian keeper was very patient and explained with less patronising language then I would have used to stop them from carrying on.

Another slightly sour note was the Africa exhibition. This is apparently one of Steve's dreams. I can understand what he was after. He was after an enclosure giving freedom to a range of animals bringing Africa to Australia. A big open area... A little like Jurassic Park I guess. It's just a shame it felt a little bit like 3 giraffes, 3 zebras and 4 rhinos put together in a hastily put together part of the zoo with a portacabin toilet decorated in Africa 'bush' to camoflage it. What dissapointed me the most wasn't the area for the animals which was actually a lovely enclosure, but it was the way in which you accessed Africa.

The safari tram picked you up and carried you the 300ish metres to the part of the zoo where the animals were. It wasn't all that far. You could have walked. The reason why you couldn't walk was that they were parading a Cheetah at a near continuous pace alongside the road on a leash to sell and show off the fact that they had Cheetahs. The Cheetahs do not yet have an enclosure as it is in phase 2 of the Africa enclosure and so it appears as if they are taking them for walkies in front of the public as another exhibit. It seemed a little desperate. When you are ready to show them off in a proper enclosure, do it - otherwise they should have a temporary enclosure with space to run about in until such a time. Hmpf. It just seemed a little cruel to me.

Something I did like but was probably for the wrong reasons was the way in which certain animals were sponsored by major corporations. It reminded me a little of how Kevin Kline tried turning a nicely running zoo into a money grabbing franchise zoo but having only "Fierce Creatures" in the film of the same name. I am aware that Australia Zoo probably are just money hungry to help the poor innocent animals but Coca Cola sponsored Tigers seem a little over the top.

Overall, not a bad zoo. Kangaroo open space - excellent interation fun. Koalas - Good photos and 'awwwing' opportunities. Crocodiles - good teeth. Dingos - looked more like domestic dogs here than at Fraser, but good. Show- fun but weak in content, needs more tricks. Price - Expensive.

Good homage to Mr Irwin - I think so. Too much Steve Irwin - maybe.

We watched Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels when we got back to the hostel as Kate hasn't seen it before. Surprise surprise, Kate fell asleep.

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