Luckily, Brisbane is only an hour south of this fantastic zoo and animal-rehab center run by the family of “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, who died in 2006. While the zoo’s focus is on wildlife conservation, it offers visitors more than 20 up-close encounters with creatures. You can spend quality time with a Komodo dragon, ride a camel, walk with a wombat and hand-feed a lemur, red panda or giant tortoise. At the Tiger Temple, you can view tigers swimming underwater. Asian elephants bathe below a waterfall at Elephantasia, and crocodile shows take place in the 5,000-seat Crocoseum. In all, the zoo shelters more than 1,000 animals.
Steve Irwin—who shot to fame with the wildlife-documentary series The Crocodile Hunter—grew up at this zoo. Though the star died while snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef (he was hit in the chest by a stingray barb), his legacy lives on at this 28-hectare (70-acre) sanctuary. It houses over a thousand native and exotic animals from koalas to cheetahs and Asian elephants. Many visitors schedule around the noon show at the Crocoseum; it features several slithering, snapping male “salties,” who can hit seven meters (23 feet) and 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds)!
Australia Zoo: Tourist Gold
The Australia Zoo, is by Australian standards, a theme park. By American standards, it is fantastically quaint, spacious and easy to navigate. Don’t be discouraged by the prices (steep) or the warnings of crowds (not-really-that-bad). This is the one-stop Australia animal experience the whole family will enjoy. Plus, the drive to get to it (about an hour north of Brisbane) is a lovely and easy jaunt into the Glasshouse Mountains. Pre-check the times for the “Crocoseum” shows online before you go. Highly recommended is the “Wildlife Warriors Show” -- an all-around Aussie display of birds, snakes and crocs. And, if you go during school holidays (which are often) there’s a good chance the zoo’s late founder, (Steve Irwin’s) family will be presenting; that is Terri, Bindi and Robert Irwin. The zoo grounds are expansive, and taking it all in is almost impossible in one day. Here’s a list of our ideas to focus your day. Do See: -Wildlife Warriors Show in Crocoseum -Afternoon Koalas LIVE show -Walk-through Koala area (where you can get nose-to-nose and pose with and pet a sleeping koala on the tree, for free) -Both Kangaroo exhibits and the Wallabies -Drop into the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital on the opposite side of the parking lot before you go. Skip if you must: - Africa exhibit (this exhibit is fairly new and a long distance away from all the other exhibits. If you’ve ever been to a major city zoo before, then you’ve already seen giraffes and such.