Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo

Serenna and Zac on life size model of one big croc.

Day One of our Road Trip up the East coast of Australia began with a day spent at the Zoo.
The late Steve Irwin, 'the crocodile hunter', is an Australian treasure.  He has made loads of TV shows wrestling crocodiles and snakes and getting way too up close and personal with dangerous wild animals.  They really LOVE this guy and after spending a day at the zoo that he and his family have created I can see why.  The Australian Zoo rocks!

The animals are well kept, the staff are amazing and knowledgeable and really send out a message of wildlife preservation at all of their featured talks and shows.  And we got up close and personal with Kangaroos, Koalas,and elephants.   Here are just a few of the hundreds of pictures we have ( now that both kids have cameras, there are truly hundreds of pics. to sift through - especially when it comes to animals!)

We were thrilled to be able to feed, touch, pet and hang out with a few dozen kangaroos and wallabies.  The were pretty relaxed and didn't mind being hand fed.

hanging out with my new aussie mate

 Speaking of being handfed.  We also got to feed three Elephants their morning snack of fruit and veg,  We enjoyed that so much we went back and fed them their afternoon snack too!

At the Crocoseum, we saw a crocodile trainer, with two weeks experience, almost lose an arm to a crocodile.  He was feeding a crocodile a dead chicken and dropped it before the croc. got it.  Without thinking the trainer quickly reached out to pick it up just as the crocodile was lunging for it.  CRIKEY!  It was tense for a moment.  Fortunately the trainer got to the meat first and then quickly tossed it to the hungry crocodile.

that is real fear you smell

I loved these little lizards resting on the crocs. tail.

Jason was even  part of the 'Birds of Prey' show!  The trainer chose him as a volunteer.  He asked him to take out a $5 bill and roll it up and place it between his fingers.  Then this huge bird swooped over and landed on Jason's arm and took the $5 in it's beak and then flew back to his trainer with the money,

The crowd all had a good laugh at this pick pocket scheme.  Then the trainer had the bird return the money!  It was very cool.  Jas was even on the huge screen for all to see.

We all loved spending time with the koalas.  They are just so cute!  We were allowed to pet them on the bottom, where they do not mind being touched.  We learned a lot about the Koalas from their caretakers.  They eat only eucalyptus leaves which to other animals would be poisonous, but the koalas are able to digest them.  Since this is their only food intake they eat for many hours a day.  Eucalyptus does not provide a lot of calories so they move slowly and nap often preserving their energy.  They are covered in lovely dense fur despite the warm Australian climate because they have next to no body fat to keep them warm.  The fur also protects their skin from the sun. 

Koalas are marsupials, meaning the baby spends many months in the mother's pouch growing before it emerges from the pouch.  When a baby koala is born it is about the size of a jellybean!  It then has to make the long journey up the mother's tummy (guided by a scent trail she licks onto her fur) and crawl into the pouch, where it latches on for dear life!

After about six months of being milk fed, they crawl out of the pouch and start learning to climb.  The tender digestion of the baby is not able to handle the eucalyptus leaves so the mommy feeds the baby a special kind of poop she makes, that gently introduces the baby to eucalyptus.   I am not kidding...

sleepy joey

On a sad note, there is an animal hospital located next to the zoo where they take in sick zoo animals and injured wild animals that people find.  Some are injured by run ins with cars (many kangaroos) and some (many koalas) are injured by pet dogs that attack these nearly defenseless animals.   The staff at the animal hospital were also amazing, telling us the background stories of some of their injured koalas.  Every animal is named. At the time of our visit they had  about 30 koalas recuperating.   The surgery was all open and we could see the animals being treated through a huge glass wall.  When one unconscious koala was done being treated, the vet brought it over to  for us to have a look at.

Zac studied Australia when he was 5 yrs. old in Montessori.  For 2 years he has been singing the "Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree, Merry merry king of the bush is he......"  Now we have all met a real live Kookaburra.  Here he/she is...

Another thing I really liked about this zoo is the signage.  The write ups about each animal were entertaining and personal.  Each alligator had a name and a message about his/her personality.  For example Daisy apparently had beautiful Betty Davis eyes, and Alison was a real grump in the morning.  Here is what Steve Irwin had to say about the python.

Here is one last picture of the red panda that Serenna wanted to bring home with her.

After the zoo we drove to the Rossmount B&B about 2 hours away.  The sun sets here by 6 pm so much of the drive was in the dark.  When making the booking this B&B didn't look very far from the town of Gympie, but it turns out it was in the middle of no where!  We were following our GPS down crazy paths (cannot call it a road) in the pitch dark over stream bridges that did not look like they could support the weight of a car.  Since we could not physically turn around, we had no choice but to continue on.  Fortunately we ended up at the right spot.  The stars were amazing (recognized nothing however) as no light pollution interfered with our view.  The next morning we could see how beautiful the countryside was but that night we were really wondering where the hell we were going to end up.

More amazing animal encounters next blog.....

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