In this penultimate part of my epic Australian trip report I am going to share with you our day at Australia Zoo.
Australia Zoo is located just south west of the main Sunshine Coast area of Queensland. Australia Zoo is the home of the Irwin family, made famous by the tragically late Steve Irwin's Animal Planet series, 'The Crocodile Hunter'.
While I am not an advocate of zoos and animal captivity, I know from research and seeing the Irwins' TV shows that they are staunch animal conservationists and ultimately try to do good. Having come so far across the world, I thought it would be nice to see their work in progress, and the legacy that Steve left behind. The zoo is a charitable organisation, and all profits go back into the running of the complex and animal hospital they have on site.
We arrived early one morning and immediately noticed the blatant advertising outside the entrance. Even driving along the street (which was named Steve Irwin Way), the signs and posters were very "loud".
Upon entering the zoo, we found a statue of the Irwin family which paid tribute to Steve. Meaning no disrespect at all to the family, but whoever designed the statue did a terrible job! The family look like they are about a thousand years old - even the kids! Not at all flattering.
We walked around the whole zoo, and saw all of the enclosures and animals (or the ones that were appearing that day at least). We even found a character wandering around, which was funny to us, what with our Character Central brand
Overall I was fairly impressed with the animal enclosures, the space they provided and the upkeep of the living areas. I do however have a number of observations, which I'll share below, after these photos.
We visited the kangaroos, which were in a huge area that you can walk freely around and mingle with them. The problem I have with this is that they were pretty much harassed constantly by the visitors. There were "safe" zones for the animals to retreat to, but I didn't feel this was enough to be honest. It's nice that they had such a huge home and received so much love from people, but I don't think you should be able to go up and perpetually pet them. There were other similar instances of this exploitation throughout the zoo, and it did bother me a little.
In addition to that, the whole zoo seemed to be one giant advertisement for the Irwin family's Animal Planet career, including shows made by the children since their father's death. Bindi (the Irwins' daughter) was practically plastered onto everything, which I thought again was exploitation.
We saw one of the shows at the world famous Crocoseum (of course, it is actually named the ANIMAL PLANET Crocoseum...), which gave the zoo the chance to display some of its keepers' talents and knowledge. The unnecessary croc baiting aside, it was an interesting performance, and one that I can now put into perspective whenever I see it on the TV.
On site at the zoo is an animal hospital, which I believe is meant to be one of, if not the busiest animal hospitals in Australia. I think this was probably the most useful part of our visit, as it gave me a chance to reconcile in my head my reasons for visiting the zoo, and getting to see the real work that gets done here - caring for sick and injured wildlife. The staff were friendly and tried to answer all of my complicated questions in a knowledgable and professional manner (believe me, you don't want to visit somewhere like this with me!).
All things considered, I am glad we visited Australia Zoo, though I am not convinced I would make a return visit any time soon. I didn't like the heavy advertising and animal exploitation. With that said, I could definitely see that this was more than a zoo. It's the home of many hundreds of animals, who, without the Irwins, would not be alive now.
Have a great day everyone,