This was the day that I had been most excited about: our trip to the zoo! Once again, we were picked up at our hotel. This time, we made the short trip (unlike yesterday’s long drive) to the Cairn’s Tropical Zoo. We had signed up for something called Zootastic, which earned us a private tour and animal encounters. In order (I think) here are all our animal encounters:
I fed kangaroos!
The roo’s and wallabies are very friendly. Everyone at the zoo can walk into their enclosure and feed them. I was very cautious because they have crazy claws on their hands and (as we all know) their legs are mega-strong. I didn’t want to piss off any kangaroos and come home without an eye!
I fed a pelican!
This wasn’t part of the tour. I just so happened to be standing there when it was feeding time. A zookeeper came out with a bucket of fish and gathered up everyone nearby. (It was pretty much me and bunch of little kids!) We put on gloves and took turns throwing the fish to the pelicans. It was funny to watch the kids because you are supposed to lob the fish (so that it goes in head first) but most of them just flopped the fish over. Hehe!
We both fed a group of lemurs!
Stephen and I stepped into the lemur enclosure where we hand-fed 4 female lemurs a mixture of oats, apples, grapes, and meal worms. Turns out, lemurs are a female-dominate species with a strong hierarchy. There is a clear leader and clear low woman on the totem pole. If the others decide they don’t think the low ranking lemur should eat, they will take all her food. If we were to try to sneak her some, they’d beat her up. (That didn’t happen while we were there, but apparently it’s pretty normal.) Poor, crazy lemurs. This was my favorite part of the day. The way the lemurs would reach out and take your hand and the look in their eyes, very human-like!
We fed (carefully!) a cassowary!
Cassowaries are big ol’ birds that live in the Australian rainforest. They are a keystone species, and as such, vital to the survival of the rainforest. (It has to do with their ability to eat certain things, poop them out, and fertilize the rainforest.) I had never heard of one, and the way they were described sounded crazy. This bird looks prehistoric with raptor-like legs, a colorful face, a waddle, and pliable horn on their head. (The horn looks like bone, but is moldable like honey-comb or aerobars.) We fed her through the fence very carefully. I was scared she’d take my fingers off, but in fact, the cassowary has great aim. She knew exactly what she was doing.
We held a baby alligator!
This brough out this little guy for us to touch and hold. The reptile specialist was there too to explain to us some of the differences between crocs and alligators and to answer our questions. I was scared he’d try to squirm out of my hands, but that wasn’t an issue. He just layed there.
We fed crocs!
For this part, we took turns standing on a ledge (surrounded by fencing) jutting out over the croc enclosure. We had long bamboo poles, and dead little chickens were tied to the end. We’d dangle the chicky over the crocs to tease them and get them to jump. After a few teaser rounds, we let the crocodiles get the birds. It was incredible to see how high they can jump and the strength with which they chomp. There is a loud popping sound when they bite, that is their jaw killing their prey (if it was alive, that is). Freaky!
We got up close and personal with a python!
They brough out this big lady. (I think she was a Burmese python) from the reptile house. Scary shizz, y’all. We couldn’t hold her (she’s too big), but I wouldn’t have wanted to. I got freaked out just squatting next to her. I could tell just how easily should could kill me if she wanted to and I kept having flashbacks to the movie Anaconda. This was a quick visit!
We cuddled a koala!
My goal activity! Now, koalas have strict working regulations. They only work a few days a week and only for a half hour at a time. Translation: you only get to hold their little fellas for a few minutes. She was soft and friendly. I love the look on her face – so pensive! I loved holding her, but it wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be. (The lemurs definitely take the cake for best activity of the day. Sorry, koala!)
We got a face full of birds!
This was the final portion of Zootastic. We went into the bird area, and Maddie (our zoo tour guide) gave us both bowls of nectar and these colorful babies swarmed all over us. (There were more; this picture was taken as the bird craziness was dying down.) They were so bright and beautiful! It was neat to have them surrounding us. A great end of the zootastic experience.
We watched a wombat presentation!
Before we got transported back to the hotel, we caught a koala/woman presentation put on by one of the zoo keepers. She explained more about koalas (they have buttplates!) and their cousin, the wombat (they have buttplates, too!) Wombats (who I’ve never given much thought to before) are very cool. Most of the time, they are sleepy and slow, but it turns out they can really move when they want to. They are talented diggers and smart opponents. (A wombat can kill a dingo with it’s buttplate. How’d you like them apples?!)
Another full day that left us completely pooped! (And this was only a half day at the zoo!) I kept saying, “We got our money’s worth” because I feel like we really did. The zoo was tiny, but it had so much to offer. Anyone who wants to get in some animal experience, should do this! Sure, you could go to the zoo and just look at the animals, but this way you get to really experience the animals. Two thumbs way up!
Next up, our (queasy) day out at the Great Barrier Reef.*