Visit the only Zoo that is home to two Giant Pandas in the Southern Hemisphere!
Funi and Wang Wang.
Day visited: Saturday 29th September 2012
This special zoo in right in Adelaide CBD, next to the Botanical Gardens and with over 300 species it is definitely worth the trip.
Going solo to the zoo definitely let me do my own thing. Entry was AUD$31.50 for an adult and getting there around 11 AM it wasn’t at all crowded, even for school holidays.
The zoo is open from 9:30AM till 5PM with various exhibits opening at their own times either half an hour after the zoo opens and closing a half hour before they officially close for the day.
I really enjoyed Adelaide zoo, it was because I was lucky enough that the Panda exhibit was going to be open all day. Apparently, most days it wasn’t as my friends found out. It would have been a bit of a bummer not to have seen them as I’ve never seen them, even from my oversea zoo visits. They were beautiful, right up at the glass interacting with us visitors during most of the day. *See photos of Funi above and Wang Wang further on.
But the Pandas aren’t the only animals at the zoo, even though they are the main stars of Adelaide. When you enter the zoo the first magnificent animals you see are the hippopotamuses and boy do you see them, right up close. A definite highlight at the zoo.
Then the next exhibit is the Panda’s in the Bamboo Forest. Try and get here as early as possible in the morning so not to get crowds as it’s the most popular exhibit. There are also the adorable Red Pandas that seem really shy up in the trees. Try and catch a glimpse of them among the leaves.
Moving out of the Bamboo forest you greet he Central Lawn where you’ll find food and majority of the Australian animals. Highlights in the Australian section for me was the Tasmanian Devils and the Southern Wombat. Most zoos have these animals locked behind thick wire and/or glass, but not here. It was refreshing to see it so open. You could sit on the edge of the enclosure and watch the devils run right under you. You could basically reach down and pat them. I would not recommend doing this to the devils (they are named devils for a reason), but the Wombat was quite friendly enough. No glass or restraints and the devils, who like hide most of the time, here were running around with joy about their enclosure, I very much enjoyed this section of the Australian exhibit. I could have watched them for hours. Look out for these… I almost missed them if I hadn’t gone around the zoo twice.
Another highlight of this large zoo was the Sea Lions. They definitely put on a show that day swimming around and around its little pool, showing off tricks to the visitors, even though their trainers weren’t around, they just loved the attention. They are just so beautiful gliding around in the water.
And if you love big cats this place has them. Tigers, Lions and a Serval (They are just the cutest with their feathered ears). Definitely catch them at feeding time or you won’t see the Tigers or Serval at all. The Lions though are just lazying around all day visibly snoozing under the sun. The Male lion (separate from the females) has a spectacular mane and he comes up right close to the fence. *Warning: Do not let your children put their fingers through the wire – he gets that close.
It’s interesting that the Lions get just a bit of wire for their enclosure but the Tiger gets the whole kit and caboodle with a raised platform and thick glass barrier.
There are also thousands of Meerkat enclosures around the place, but they are mischievous little cuties that you’ll always stop to watch them.
Other points of great interest is the Nocturnal House where they have a Bilby (one of my all time favourite animals), a Giant Sloth as well as Sugar Gliders and Possums.
Also the walk-in Avairies where you can meet and greet your favourite parrots; the Siamangs (catch them at feeding time, they are most entertaining swinging through the branches, especially when viewing from the treetop platforms) among other monkeys and apes; the Children’s Zoo where you can get close up and personal with Kangaroos and Quokkas (but please parents make sure your children treat these animals with great care – I have witnessed many children (at various zoos worldwide) just pick up these beautiful little creatures and chuck them while their parents taking the time to chat and rest) and also the Flamingoes. The oldest Flamingoes in Australia – One Chilean Flamingo and one Greater Flamingo both are which over 70 years old.
Disappointments? Well, two stood out for me, but it must have been the timing, not the zoos fault at all.
1) Fennec Foxes. All my life I’ve wanted to see just one and they have two breeding pairs at the zoo. One pair were absent because it was breeding season and the other pair hid outback of the enclosure. I was so disappointed that I returned four times during the day to see if they had come out, but nothing.
2) Another was the Binturong (Asian Bearcat). Both here at Adelaide Zoo and at the Menagerie du Jardin de Plantes I have only seen the silhouette of a sleeping Binturong in its little hut. It is a nocturnal animal, but I will hopefully one day see one of these creatures up and about.
It was also sad that three weeks prior to my visit the Pygmy hippo (born 1977 at Melbourne Zoo) that they had on display had died from medical issues. It was still in the morgue for research when I visited, but eventually the skeleton will be returned to be put on display at a later date.
Apart from that, the food is what you’d expect. There is a restaurant as well as little cafes to stock up on those nibbles for the kiddies. The gift shops are basically Panda crazy, but it all goes into the conservation of the Pandas and the breeding program.
But it is a perfect way to spend a day with little children if you’re looking for something fun and educational to do. But also fun if you’re an adult wanting to pass the time being surrounded by what nature has best to offer.
Also in Adelaide there is the Montaro Zoo (approx. an hours drive from Adelaide CBD) and the Warrawong Sanctuary (approx. 25 minutes from Adelaide CBD).
For more information about the Zoo (ticket prices, opening hours, etc) please visit the Official website at http://www.zoossa.com.au/home
All photos are copyright 2012 Amy Watson taken at Adelaide Zoo on the day.