Trip Start Jun 11, 2008
Trip End May 14, 2009

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Tuesday, December 9, 2008

CRIKEY!! Yes, today we went to Australia Zoo, home of the late legend Steve Irwin. I hope you are jealous Claire?!

It was a perfect day as well. There was a covering of cloud which kept the searing sun out. This was good for us and would probably make the animals less lethargic.

Got to say, the legend certainly lives on here. All the staff talk about him with great big smiles on their faces. It's amazing that someone can pass away and leave that affect on so many people. The other thing is that the staff all genuinely actually look happy to be here. They just love being with the animals. Some of the staff are with the animals from when they are born, 24 hours a day - yeah, even sleeping with them. This is so they can gain the animals trust, which is pretty important when tigers are involved methinks!

That was one thing that I really noticed about this place, there were carers for the animals in every pen. They were either sat with them, or answering questions about them, or just sat in the background out of the way just keeping an eye out for their well being. Really nice to see so much care being taken. The staff weren't getting too close to the croc's though!!

Anyway, what did we see? Well, this zoo actually started out as just a reptile park owned by Steve's Mum & Dad and they are spending millions on it to bring other animals in alongside all the crocodiles and alligators. There is loads of construction going off, away from the animals, behind the scenes, that looks like it's going to double the size of the zoo. And the zoo is big already because of the huge animal pens they have created. Actually, we saw Steve's young son on a motorbike with one of the staff whilst we were looking at how the construction was going on. He is the spitting image of his Dad, with the blonde straggly hair as well.

Anyway, firstly we saw the American Alligators, but they just lay there being idle! Next was the Aldabran Tortoise. These things are huge! You can get an idea from the photo of the guy feeding one. Amazing.
We then had a walk through all the crocodile pits - and there are loads. They are great to see when they are sliding around waiting to pounce. All Lorna kept singing was that song "Never Smile at a Crocodile, you can't make friends with a crocodile"!
Next we went to check out the Tasmanian Devil. This is a weird looking thing, but it looks nothing like the cartoon character or, as Lorna pointed out, the chocolate bar!
We then had a walk past where they were feeding elephants, but it didn't compare to how we had fed elephants in Thailand whilst sat on their backs!
In the centre of the zoo is the "Crocoseum" where they do some educational shows with some animals. We did find it really good that there was always loads of staff around giving you loads of information and interesting facts about the animals. It was like being back at school as we were learning loads.
In the "Crocoseum" we had snakes being explained to us, birds flying within millimetres of our heads and of course, the feeding of a big croc. Great stuff.
Besides the croc's, one of the main reasons we came to the zoo was to get close up to the famous Aussie marsupials, Kangaroos & Koala's. Firstly, we came across the Kangaroos. They have a place called "Roo Heaven" and it's a huge walk-through pen where a lot of the kangaroos are kept (there's also another walk-through pen in the park). This was great because you can just walk up to the kangaroos and stroke them or feed them some of the food you can get. In Lorna's case, you can even pretend to be a kangaroo - see the cracking photo below!! This was a fantastic experience.
The same occurred with the Koala's. We learnt loads of stuff about them and then walked through a bit of the zoo where they just hang out. Here, again, you can walk up and stroke them and take photo's - it was brill. All the time, there are carers just hanging around, out of the way, just making sure the animals are OK. This is just so different from Shanghai zoo where no-one seemed to give a toss about whether the animals were being upset by the human visitors.
We also saw our old friends the Asian Elephants again, plus wombats, snakes and birds of prey before we got round to the Tigers. This is the point where the camera battery ran out which was a bit disappointing, but this was virtually our last place to visit.
They were actually about to feed the tigers when we were there. This is not done in a circus fashion, they try to mimic the wild in getting the tigers to eat.
This part was absolutely amazing and probably the highlight of the day. Normally Tigers just sleep when you see them at the zoo, so it was great to see them so active.
One Tiger climbed right up to the top of a tree to get it's prey which was an awesome sight. Next one leapt through the sky to get it. This was incredible as this Tiger was huge and leapt as high as a double decker bus. It was amazing to see. Then one leapt into the water to get it's food - this looked absolutely majestic to see. Images we didn't get on camera, but one's that will stay in the memory forever!
On the way out, we stopped off to see camel, some more birds, dingoes and finally saw the otters being fed. Even though we have seen so many otters before, this was also an amazingly interesting part of the day.

Overall a fantastic day.
Steve Irwin is definitely a legend and here, his legend lives on. There is a sadness that he has gone, but all the people here just seem to have happy memories of the man - a truly immense feat to achieve.
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