Many people know who Steve Irwin is. We are fortunate as the Steve Irwin Australia Zoo is located 1 hour north of Brisbane – and it is a great zoo! One of the most interesting features is the educational shows that they do throughout the day. For instance, they may do one on Raptors or Koalas or Crocodiles.
Wildlife Warriors Show
The best show is the noon show in the grandstands, which includes Alligators, Raptors and snakes. The highlight of the show is the crocodile, which they lure out by stomping in the water and then keep his attention with food. When I went to this show with my daughter, they used a particularly juicy chicken, so when the croc snapped it between his jaws, it spurted guts out all over the place, and the whole audience groaned. (That doesn’t normally happen.) The crocodile is most dangerous in the water not only because he is fast, but because of his stealth. He moves without causing even a ripple in the surface of the water.
Crocodiles (Australia) and Alligators (America)
After the show, you can go and look at the crocodiles and imported American Alligators in their enclaves.
Alligator Snapping Turtle, Snakes, and Lizards
Here is another interesting jaw snapping creature – the Alligator Snapping Turtle. The Alligator Snapping Turtle does not actively forage for food. They are ambush attack predators, happy to wait patiently for their prey to come to them. You wouldn’t want to get your finger caught in their mouths as they have jaw pressures up to 1000 psi.
The Shingleback Lizard is an interesting lizard, although quite ugly, if you ask me. Because it stores fat in its short thick tail, it can be hard to tell the front from the rear.
The Zoo has an impressive presentation of Australia’s most venomous snakes. Thankfully they are all behind glass. Not shown here is the Fierce Snake. The Fierce Snake produces, drop for drop, the most toxic venom of any snake IN THE WORLD! One bite possesses enough punch to drop 100 full grown men.
Well, we can’t all cozy up to real dangerous animals, so we’ll take our risks this way.
Tigers – Bengal and Sumatran
These tigers are impressive and we were interested to see how fast they can climb a tree after some prey. Yet they are also quite affectionate toward their handlers, as long as they are given the respect that they deserve. I am guessing that the ones shown here are Bengal Tigers, but I can’t be sure.
One of my favorite zoo exhibits is the new Africa area. Here, Giraffes share their large space with zebras and Rhinos. There are several Rhinos here, including some young ones. In fact, one of the females just gave birth a new little rhino in October 2015.
Igloo is an Aldabran tortoise with a lively personality. The now rare Aldabran tortoise is the largest species of land tortoise in the world, able to grow to 1 metre tall and 300 kilograms.
If you were lucky enough to visit the zoo before 2006, you would have had the opportunity to meet Harriet the Giant Galapagos Land Tortoise. Harriet was collected from the Galapagos Islands in 1835 by Sir Charles Darwin when she was just the size of a dinner plate. This means that she probably hatched somewhere around the year 1830. It also means that when she died in 2006 at her Australian Zoo home of 20 years, she was an amazing 176 years old! She loved people and was always eager to meet her fans.
Dingoes are Australia’s wild dog. They arrived in Australia about 5,000 years ago – brought to Australian shores by Indonesian Seafarers. Dingoes do not bark, but howl like wolves. In the wild, their main diet is wallaby and kangaroo – which there are plenty of in Australia – as well as smaller animals.
While at the zoo, you can ride around an enclosure on the back of a camel.
Like Kangaroos, Wombats have a pouch in which they carry their growing joeys. Their pouch faces backwards so that it doesn’t get filled with dirt by the active burrowing mama. Although largely nocturnal, we have often seen at least one wombat wandering around their grassy enclosure.
Close to the crocodiles in popularity, Koalas are a big attraction here in Australia – and sometimes even have their own zoo such as the Koala Bear Sanctuary in Brisbane. (They are not bears, rather they are marsupials, which means that they carry their young in a pouch.) Here, at the Australia Zoo you can get up close and personal with the Koalas, able to pet them or observe them in one of several koala areas. Their diet consists of Eucalypt leaves and when they are not eating, they are sleeping. They are soooo cute!
For some people, the highlight of their trip to the Australian Zoo is the expansive Kangaroo enclosure. Here, they can get up close and personal with 4 varieties of Kangaroos and Wallabies. It is great fun to fee the friendly kangaroos. On my last visit we even had the privilege of seeing many kangaroos with their little joeys in the pouches. When the joey is in the pouch, you will see his/her head peeping out as well as its already long clawed feet. That’s probably more comfortable for the mama kangaroo!
There are a lot of interesting and beautiful birds in Australia. In the zoo, you get a look at some of the ones that you might not see every day (and a few that you do.)
We have to start with the Cassowary, which has the most fascinating appearance, with its bright colors and large horn on its head. Cassowaries are frugivores (fruit eaters) and are responsible for the distribution and germination of many north Queensland rainforest trees. Without cassowaries, our rainforests may not be able to survive.
Macaws are highly intelligent birds, some capable of learning at the level of a 6-7 year old child, and therefore, ill suited to be house pets as they suffer from lack of stimulation.
More Birds Below
Black necked stork – the only stork endemic to Australia
Kookaburra – Probably one of the most famous of Australian birds, known for its cackling laugh (and they really are found sitting on the branches of old gum trees.) The Kookaburra is a Kingfisher.
Curlew – Its eerie wailing calls at night have been responsible for many an emergency call to the police, from people thinking that someone is screaming in the bush.
Brolga – The brolgas have elaborate courtship dances, which they are famous for. With wings spread and facing each other, the two brolgas jump, dance, pirouette, prance about, bowing and bobbing their heads to advance and retire. Now and then the bird will stop and, throwing its head back, trumpet wildly. The brolga is the only crane endemic to Australia.
A final look around the zoo
Some animals wander freely around the zoo, particularly the lizard, which you must be careful not to step on. Some, like this turkey (or is it Ibis) can even be found trying to place an order in the food court.
I haven’t covered all the animals or sights to see here – there are many more. Here are some final pictures.
I hope that you will get a chance to visit this fascinating zoo one day.