8 memorable Australian zoo experiences

Close up of staring giraffe face with another giraffe grazing at trees behind it

Zoos allow for incredible up-close encounters. 

Credit: Perth Zoo

Australia has a superb collection of zoos and wildlife sanctuaries that entertain, enthral, engage, excite, and educate. Yet visiting an Australian zoo or wildlife park is like standing in a supermarket’s confectionery aisle – there’s so much on offer that it’s tough to know what to choose (or where to start).

So rather than just informing you of the best zoos in Australia, we’ve gone a step further. We present the lowdown on great zoo experiences – the must-sees, the rare encounters, the up-close meetings, or the captivating shows – and when to witness them.

We understand a day at the zoo can be pricey even without add-ons, so our choices are limited to experiences that form part of a general admission ticket, (which means the chance to wrestle dozy polar bears at $10,000 a pop was omitted from the list, sorry). With the hard work already done for you, prepare to enjoy a bunch of great Australian zoo experiences.


1. Wildlife Warriors 101 Live, Australia Zoo, Queensland

This is a must-visit zoo in Australia, and the action within the Crocoseum during the Wildlife Warriors 101 Live show is electric. While snakes and birds provide plenty of entertainment, it’s the main event that will have you riveted – the antics of an imposing saltwater crocodile. These creatures might be incredibly scary but it’s tough to take your eyes from them when they are up and about. And this gripping show is not just about entertainment, but also education. Watch it at 12pm daily on a visit from your BIG4 accommodation on the Sunshine Coast.

Black and white panda bear eats food in front of large tree branches.

Rock star life: Wang Wang. Or is it Funi? 

Credit: SATC.

2. Giant pandas, Adelaide Zoo, South Australia

The giant panda enclosure is without doubt the thing to check out at Adelaide Zoo, home to the adorable duo, Wang Wang and Funi. As the only giant pandas in Australia they just about earn rock-star status in Adelaide. Unfortunately for visitors, they can also act like rock stars. So although you can see the pandas throughout the day, optimum viewing time is first thing in the morning when they’re usually most active (unless they were playing a massive gig the night before) or during the 11am keeper presentation. Be wowed when staying at BIG4 Adelaide Shores Caravan Park or Marion Holiday Park.

Colourful parrot bird lands on the arm of woman in uniform and headset

The Spirits of the Sky bird show at Healesville Sanctuary is sure to thrill. 

Credit: Zoos Victoria.

3. Spirits of the Sky bird show, Healesville Sanctuary, Victoria

Several Australian zoos and wildlife parks feature free-flight bird shows and Spirits of the Sky is up there with the best of them. This spectacle takes place in a superb viewing area where a succession of birds are introduced to visitors, sometimes skimming overhead in thrilling fashion. The birds’ personalities are both fascinating and amusing and it all makes for an enthralling experience. Spirits of the Sky is held daily at 12pm and 2.30pm. Visit during a stay at BIG4 Yarra Valley Park Lane Holiday Park.

Man in khakis, boots and hat stands in desert sand in front of grassy hills watching bird fly

Birds and views combine at magnificent Alice Springs Desert Park.

4. Nature theatre, Alice Springs Desert Park, Northern Territory

Another free-flight bird show that commands strong attention is held at Alice Springs Desert Park. It’s a highlight at this wildlife park in part because the shaded nature theatre in which it’s held provides a stunning backdrop that typifies the Central Australia landscape. What we love about these types of shows is their ability to entertain all ages – watch as children and adults are equally dazzled. In this instance, the star of the show has to be the brown falcons, and they seem to know it. Take a peek at 10am or 3.30pm daily when enjoying a stay at BIG4 MacDonnell Range Holiday Park.

Serval cat jumps from tree branch towards a log inside enclosure

A serval shows its talent at Werribee Open Range Zoo. 

Credit: Zoos Victoria.

5. Serval Cat presentation, Werribee Open Range Zoo, Victoria

There’s plenty of appeal to this open-range zoo, but the Serval Cat presentation stands out. These animals are not something you see every day…well, unless you work at the zoo. In fact, we dare suggest that many people wouldn’t even know what a serval cat is. Watch this presentation and you’ll amazed by the talents of these engaging African animals. This show is held daily at 11am, so don’t be late! Werribee is a great daytrip destination when staying in Melbourne.

Get up close and see eye-to-eye while feeding these gentle giants

Get up close and see eye-to-eye while feeding these gentle giants.

6. Giraffe feeding, Perth Zoo, Western Australia

Ok, so this comes at an extra $5 on top of the admission price but we think the experience of feeding giraffes is worth an additional fiver. It’s a great opportunity to come face to face with a creature regarded as the tallest animal in the world – the lookout tower vantage point means you’ll eyeball these cloud-piercing gentle giants. This is also a great opportunity to marvel at the intricate patterns of a giraffe up close. 

Japanese macaque sits on log in enclosure behind rope.

The Japanese macaque enclosure in Launceston is a superb attraction, and it's free!

7. Japanese macaque enclosure, City Park, Launceston

We’ve added this experience to the list for two reasons: one, it’s an easily accessible attraction with engaging creatures; and secondly, it won’t cost you a cent to enjoy. In many ways it’s random to see the enclosure plonked in the middle of this attractive park, but who cares? These fun animals are sure to keep younger ones thoroughly entertained. Take a peek when staying at BIG4 Launceston Holiday Park.

Woman in helmet and girl in child seat ride bike past giraffes grazing on grass in front of trees

Travelling on two wheels makes for a unique way to explore this Dubbo zoo. 

Credit: Rick Stevens.

8. Cycling around Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo

Western Plains is one of a handful of Australian open-range zoos that come with extensive appeal (also try South Australia’s Monarto Zoo if staying in Adelaide or the Adelaide Hills). What we love even more is that you can experience the expansive grounds on two wheels. Cycling is the best way to explore this Dubbo zoo; it best captures a feeling that you’re among the wild. Check out a vast range of native Australian animals as well as exotic creatures: the black rhinoceros are our favourites (talk and feed 9.25am daily).

There are so many amazing animal encounters to enjoy – and a stack of BIG4 parks close to zoos or wildlife sanctuaries – so we’re sure you have a story to tell about your favourite animal experience? Please leave a comment below.

Otherwise, spread your wings and embark on a wonderful wildlife encounter with BIG4.

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