Go wild! The best zoos in Australia
From native creatures to exotic features; big cats to shy bats; animals hairy to those that are scary; and branch swingers to wannabe singers – Australian zoos showcase a vast array of the world’s most captivating wildlife and bird life.
As well as allowing easy viewing of a wide selection of animals, these zoos and sanctuaries often include pulsating up-close encounters, educational talks, and enthralling shows.
Looking to entertain kids (and adults) on your next BIG4 break? Then you’ll love this handy guide from Tourism Australia guiding you towards the best zoos in the country.
New South Wales
With its spectacular location on Sydney Harbour, Taronga Zoo is a highlight of any visit to Sydney. Taronga Zoo exhibits more than 2600 individual animals of around 340 species. Check out its regular entertainment for families. Another place to get up close with Australian animals in the New South Wales capital is Wild Life Sydney at Darling Harbour.
Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo has more than 100 species of both exotic and Australian native animals; mostly large, open-range animals.
Other places in New South Wales to see Australia’s unique animals, birds, and reptiles are Featherdale Wildlife Park and Koala Park Sanctuary in Sydney; Australian Reptile Park in Gosford; and Mogo Zoo just outside of Batemans Bay.
Alice Springs Desert Park and the Alice Springs Reptile Centre provide an excellent introduction to the wildlife of the Northern Territory. These Alice Springs attractions are worth visiting before you head off to explore the wildlife in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
At Crocodylus Park in Darwin, you can meet a crocodile underwater while safely protected by a cage.
At the Territory Wildlife Park at Berry Springs, about 45 minutes’ drive from Darwin city, you can see wildlife up-close in their natural habitats, enjoy tree-top aviaries, and see some of the Top End’s most amazing aquatic life in the walk-through aquarium.
Brisbane’s Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the world's largest koala sanctuary and home to more than 100 koalas and a large variety of other Australian wildlife.
David Fleay Wildlife Park and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on Queensland’s Gold Coast are ideal for viewing Australian native animals such as kangaroos, koalas, and wombats.
Australia Zoo, known as the ‘Home of the Crocodile Hunter’, is located near the Glasshouse Mountains in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.
Tropical North Queensland wildlife attractions include the award-winning Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures and Kuranda Koala Gardens.
Billabong Sanctuary, near Townsville, showcases a variety of native animals in Australian rainforest, eucalypt, and wetlands habitats.
Adelaide Zoo focuses on endangered and rare animals from Australia and around the world. This Adelaide feature is home to around 300 species of exotic and native mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish.
Cleland Wildlife Park is in the Adelaide Hills on the outskirts of the Adelaide CBD. Here, Aboriginal guides tell Dreaming stories and the relationship between Aboriginal culture and Australian wildlife on the Yurridla Trail.
Just an hour from Adelaide and 15 minutes from the Murray River, Monarto Zoo is the largest open-range zoo in Australia. It is designed to let larger, grazing animals roam as if in their natural environment and is world-renowned for its breeding programs of rare and endangered animals.
The Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park opened in January 1992 under the name of Parndana Wildlife Park, and is an excellent place to see Australian native animals.
In the foothills of the Tamar Valley, 18km from Launceston in Tasmania’s north, is Tasmania Zoo, the largest wildlife park in Tasmania. Tasmania Zoo is home to more than 80 species including Australian birds, penguins, crocodiles, wombats, echidnas, kangaroos, quolls, and reptiles. It is one of the best places in Tasmania to see Tasmanian devils up close.
Zoodoo Wildlife Park is located near the historical township of Richmond, just 25 minutes from Hobart. Zoodoo offers all day attractions and access, including free rides for children, safari bus tours, and barbecue and picnic facilities. This attraction is renowned for its hands-on approach, which allows you to get closer to some of your favourite Australian animals than you ever thought possible.
Victoria’s Melbourne Zoo is Australia's oldest zoo and one of the world’s best. This Melbourne attraction exhibits about 350 animal species in natural exhibits and enclosures.
Healesville Sanctuary is the place to see native animals in their natural environment. Spotted within the Yarra Valley, this is also one of the best places to view Australia’s nocturnal animals.
Werribee Open Range Zoo is an African-themed attraction in Werribee, about 35km west of Melbourne’s city centre. It is located on the Werribee River in Werribee Park, adjacent to the Werribee Mansion. In addition, there are safari tours in open vehicles. Werribee Open Range Zoo is also en route to the Great Ocean Road.
Just minutes from the Perth CBD, Perth Zoo provides a tranquil natural ‘oasis’ within the city. Perth Zoo attracts many species of Australian native birds and its gardens are an important feature, as some of its plants and trees are older than 100 years. See the spectacular displays of Western Australian spring wildflowers in September and October.
Caversham Wildlife Park and Whiteman Park are located just a 25-minute drive from the Perth CBD; or 45 minutes from Fremantle. The park showcases many of Australia's unique native animals, including koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, and Tasmanian devils.
Wave Rock Wildlife Park at Hyden in Western Australia’s south-west, offers visitors the chance to enjoy and observe hundreds of birds and animals from the region and around Australia.
Australian Capital Territory
The National Zoo and Aquarium on the outskirts of Canberra is Australia's only combined zoo and aquarium. It exhibits a wide variety of both Australian native and exotic animals and Australian marine life. There are daily talks by animal keepers, behind-the-scenes tours, and times when visitors can handfeed animals.
See the collection of some of Australia's largest reptiles at Canberra Reptile Zoo and Australian Reptile Centre at Nicholls, around 20 minutes’ from Canberra.
Have we missed your favourite zoo? Or do you know of any zoo encounters that are worth recommending to your fellow readers? Please leave a comment below.
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