Australia’s native wildlife is one of the biggest draw-cards for domestic as well as international visitors. Thus, Australian zoos are significant tourist attractions and also play a key role in keeping some of the world’s most endangered animals alive. If you’re interested in getting close to mother nature and are looking for the best places to cuddle koalas, feed kangaroos, and come face-to-face with the endangered Tasmanian devil.
Here is our pick of the must visit zoos in Australia for an amazing experience
- Melbourne Zoo
Ranked as Australia’s best zoo in a poll of international travelers, Melbourne Zoo is also Australia’s oldest zoo, first opened its doors in 1862. The zoo boasts over 5000 animals from more than 300 species on 22 hectares of area and enclosures. Melbourne Zoo boasts a great spot very close to the city. The zoo is famous for its lions, and along with lions, you can also see African wild dogs and Philippines crocodiles here.
- Lone Pine Sanctuary
If you love koalas, Lone pine sanctuary is for you. Situated in Brisbane, Lone Pine Sanctuary is the world’s first and biggest koala sanctuary and is also involved in research in order to save these iconic marsupials. With more than 130 koalas in the world’s biggest koala sanctuary, with several distinct habitat types, Lone Pine Sanctuary is the best place for koala lovers. As the sanctuary is located in Queensland, you can also play with a koala, something which isn’t allowed in several other states.
- Dubbo Western Plains Zoo
Get a chance to experience African plains in a visit to Dubbo’s Western Plains Zoo. Comparing Dubbo’s to other zoos in Australia, Dubbo’s enclosures are gorgeous. Animals are provided with plenty of space to roam giving them a more natural and free environment than you are likely to see elsewhere. You can also cycle around the six-kilometer circuit and get a chance to see the wild animals of Africa with just a moat separating you and the animals. The best part is one of Dubbo Zoo’s wildlife encounter options gives you the chance to hand-feed giraffes.
- Phillip Island Nature Park
Penguins are not the first animal you associate with Australia, but down along the southern coasts, it’s feasible to see the little critters. Perhaps the best place is Phillip Island in Victoria, which is approximately 90 minutes from Melbourne.
The aquatic swimmers leave their home at sunrise and come back at sunset, usually in a military-style parade. Along the island, you will also find viewing platforms for the best spots to watch from.
- Adelaide Zoo
Adelaide Zoo is the second oldest attraction of its kind after the Melbourne Zoo in Australia. The zoo boasts more than 2500 animals from more than 250 species, incorporating the rare attraction of giant pandas. Besides the Adelaide zoo is the city’s botanic garden, for another glimpse of marvelous nature. Adelaide Zoo is home to the only two giant pandas in Australia named Wang Wang and Funi.
- Hunter Valley Zoo
Situated in one of Australia’s most loved wine regions, the Hunter Valley Zoo is a welcome break from the extensive vineyard tours and wine samples. Though the zoo is smaller in area than most on the list, that adds to its charm in several ways. Just wander the paths and enjoy the exotic birds, mammals, primates, and reptiles on show. The zoo is located in Nukalba between Cessnock and Rothbury, close to Ernest Hill Wines. Hunter Valley zoo is popular for Meerkat. It also offers an experience upgrade that allows you to enter the meerkat enclosure
- Sydney Taronga Zoo
Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, situated in Mosman, offers a packed day for visitors. There are over 20 shows each day and approximately 4000 animals on-site and some enclosures also have views over the water to the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
The best way to reach the Sydney Taronga Zoo is by ferry from Circular Quay. You also have an option to drive along the Lower North Shore to get there. Sydney Taronga Zoo offers a Roar & Snore experience that permits visitors to see nocturnal animals at their busiest and can also stay over at the zoo in its camping facilities.
- Werribee Open Range Zoo
Like Dubbo Zoo, Werribee also offers its inhabitants much more area than the average zoo. Animals from Africa are a major attraction, with gorillas, giraffes, big cats, and hippos. The option of Safaris is also available for those who wish to get in the enclosures and close to the animals. Werribee is home to one of the world’s biggest gorilla enclosures, with more than 6000 square meters provided to the majestic primates.
- Busselton Jetty
About 220 kilometers south-west of Perth is one of Australia’s unique marine zoos. Represented as Australia’s greatest artificial reef, the Busselton Jetty has over 300 marine species and is also host to a range of colorful sponges, corals, and fish.
The Underwater Observatory that is eight meters below the water’s surface and 1.7km along the jetty can host 48 people at a time. The jetty also boasts the title of the longest wooden jetty in the world.
Busselton Jetty is one of only five underwater observatories around the globe. What you get to see can vary from season to season and day to day. but even on dim days, there are VR goggles available to give you a taste of what may be lurking nearby.