We had an extra early start the day we set off from Stradbroke Island, as we needed to catch the 8 o’clock ferry. Back on the mainland again we headed to Australia Zoo, the famous zoo built by the legendary (and considered a hero here in Australia) Steve Erwin. The zoo is still largely run by the Irwin family, although sadly as you probably know without Steve by their side. The zoo itself was the most spectacular zoo I had ever been to, it was so well designed for both the visitors and the animals. The enclosures were huge and the animals looked so comfortable and well looked after. The whole park was covered in lush, green Australian vegetation, and you could see that a LOT of love and thought had gone into the layout and building of this place. In true spirit of Steve Irwin the park’s largest and most extensive part was of course the reptiles, and particularly the alligators and crocodiles. We went to the famous crocoseum where we saw the zoo keepers feed a crocodile. The crocodile was fed in a style that was meant to activate the crocodiles natural hunting instincts, so to make it’s feeding time as natural as possible. The zoo keepers trampled by the waters edge to resemble how the crocodile’s prey would behave by the water’s edge in the wild, and then coaxed the crocodile to grab the meat attached to rope. The zoo keeper held the rope and wrestled the crocodile so the crocodile would have to fight for it’s meal, much like how it would have to in the wild. So cool to see the crocodile stalk and hunt. I have only seen such behaviour on television, and only ever seen crocodiles in zoos lay perfectly still in their enclosures.
Photo credit to Steven for the crocodile photos!
We also got to see the tiger feeding too, where the zoo keepers fed the two sibling tigers milk, did a health check up of them and a few tricks. The tigers went giddy for the milk, instantly becoming like kittens for it. The tricks were again, like in the crocoseum, not circus tricks for entertainment of the audience, but treated as ways to induce natural behaviours and instincts in the tiger as well as a means to control these large creatures, important for their health and well-being as well as ensuring controll and safety for the keepers. Climbing trees or stretching in certain ways so the keepers could do health checks without it being stressful was much of the procedure. I really liked how the animals came first, no matter what, and that so much effort was being made to make their home feel as real as possible. I liked too that the audiences were not “entertained” either, they were merely taught and allowed to observe. The focus on conservation care and global wildlife threats were prominent throughout the park as well, which was such a comfort to see! I loved the focus the zoo had, how it was about teaching people about conservation, and allowing people to appreciate their simple beauty and importance, just as they were, without the glitter and sparkle.
We also got to go into the Hospital they had next to the zoo, where local wildlife that had been injured were taken in to be nursed back to health. Most of the wildlife were tragically in there due to road accidents or as orphans. The hospital had big windows where you could look into surgery rooms and rehabilitation areas, and I was amazed over how high-tech and modern the facilities looked! The surgery room looked better than mine when I went in for my leg, haha! Through one window you could see some of the animals in their cages, having snoozes and getting well rested. One of the patients was a koala who was bandaged up on one of his legs and wobbling around on a branch on the ground. Around him were toys and blankets. A note by his enclosure told us that he had broken his leg and was currently doing physiotherapy, and that if he fell off his branch, not to bee alarmed as he still hadn’t got his balance quite yet and was still regaining his strength! Oh how I sympathised with that little guy as I knew exactly what he was going through, and I think I empathised with him even more so than the others. I hope he did a full recovery and was released back into the wild again, that would be so heart-warming. I bought a little souvenirs that day too, an adorable koala teddy! After seeing them in the wild, and meeting the broken legged koala on that day, I felt like buying that teddy was very justified!
After a loooong day of lots of walking around I was truly exhausted, and had to apologies to Steven and ask him to drive again as my leg was feeling a bit tired and sore. We left the zoo and headed to our AirBnb appartment. It was exciting to be in an apartment, with all the facilities to ourselves and living like normal again for a while, no hostels or tents! Our host was a doctor/hobby DJ who was lovely and helpful! We settled in nicely, had an Indian curry and swam in his amazing, night lit pool! We then walked to a hillside our host recommended to watch the New Year’s fireworks over the city. The gang had ambitious plans to go out, but by the time we got back to the appartment everyone was pretty tired. I went to bed after speaking with my parents and wishing them a happy new year, whilst the other three stayed up for a while, had some drinks and listened to music.