Australia’s unique animals are a major drawcard for international visitors; and many zoos in Australia are among the world’s best. Australia has both public and private zoos. Some Australian zoos showcase exotic species such as big cats and elephants; while others focus on Australian native animals and birds. Zoos and wildlife sanctuaries in Australia undertake vital environmental education and research for the conservation of endangered animals. Many zoos in Australia hold special events, 'behind the scenes' tours and overnight stays which include close encounters with the animals. Here is where to see koalas, kangaroos, wombats and Australia’s other amazing animals.
National Zoo & Aquarium, ACT
The National Zoo and Aquarium on the outskirts of Canberra is Australia's only combined zoo and aquarium. It exhibits a wide variety of both Australian native and exotic animals and Australian marine life. There are daily talks by animal keepers, behind-the-scenes tours and times when visitors can handfeed the animals. See the collection of some of Australia's largest reptiles at the Canberra Reptile Zoo and Australian Reptile Centre at Nicholls, around 20 minutes’ from Canberra.
Located in its spectacular location on Sydney Harbour, Taronga Zoo is a highlight of any visit to Sydney. Taronga Zoo exhibits more than 2600 individual animals of around 340 species. Check out their ‘Roar n Snore’ camping events and regular entertainment for families. Another place on Sydney Harbour where you can get up close with Australian animals is Wild Life Sydney at Darling Harbour.
Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo has more than 100 species of both exotic and Australian native animals; mostly large, open range animals. It offers overnight accommodation in safari tents or the ‘Zoofari Lodge’.
Other places in New South Wales to see Australia’s unique animals, birds and reptiles are the Featherdale Wildlife Park; Koala Park Sanctuary; Australian Reptile Park; and Mogo Zoo.
The Alice Springs Desert Park and the Alice Springs Reptile Centre provide an excellent introduction to the wildlife of the Northern Territory. They are worth visiting before you head off to explore the wildlife in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
At Crocodylus Park in Darwin, you can meet a crocodile underwater while safely protected by a plastic cage.
At the Territory Wildlife Park at Berry Springs, around 45 minutes’ drive from Darwin city, you can see wildlife up-close in their natural habitats, enjoy tree top aviaries, and see some of the Top End’s most amazing aquatic life in the walk-through aquarium.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, QLD
Brisbane’s Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the world's largest koala sanctuary and home to more than 100 koalas and a large variety of other Australian wildlife.
David Fleay Wildlife Park and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on Queensland’s Gold Coast are also where to see unique Australian native animals such as kangaroos, koalas and wombats. Australia Zoo, known as the ‘Home of the Crocodile Hunter’ is located near the Glasshouse Mountains in the Gold Coast hinterland.
The award-winning Cairns Tropical Zoo at Palm Cove has the largest wildlife collection in Tropical North Queensland. Other Tropical North Queensland wildlife attractions include the award-winning Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures; and Kuranda Koala Gardens.
Billabong Sanctuary, near Townsville, showcases a variety of Australian native animals in Australian rainforest, eucalypt and wetlands habitats.
Adelaide Zoo focuses on endangered and rare animals from Australia and around the world. It is home to around 300 species of exotic and native mammals, birds, reptiles and fish.
Cleland Wildlife Park is in the Adelaide Hills on the outskirts Adelaide CBD. Hear Aboriginal guides tell Dreaming stories and the relationship between Aboriginal culture and Australian wildlife on the Yurridla Trail.
Just an hour from Adelaide and 15 minutes from the Murray River, Monarto Zoo is the largest open-range zoo in Australia. It is designed to let larger grazing animals roam as if in their natural environment and is world-renowned for its breeding programs of rare and endangered animals.
Kangaroo Island’s Parndana Wildlife Park is also an excellent place to see Australian native animals.
In the foothills of the Tamar Valley, 18 kilometres from Launceston in Tasmania’s north, is Tasmania Zoo, the largest wildlife park in Tasmania. Tasmania Zoo is home to more than 80 species including Australian birds, penguins, crocodiles, wombats, echidnas, kangaroos, quolls and reptiles. It is one of the best places in Tasmania to experience Tasmanian Devils up-close.
Zoodoo Wildlife Park is located near the historic township of Richmond, just 25 minutes from Hobart. Zoodoo offers all day attractions and access including free rides for children, safari bus tours and BBQ and picnic facilities. Zoodoo Wildlife Park is renowned for its hands-on approach which allows you to get closer to some of your favourite Australian animals than you ever thought possible.
Werribee Open Range Zoo, VIC
Victoria’s Melbourne Zoo is Australia's oldest zoo and one of the world’s best zoos. It exhibits around 350 animal species in natural exhibits and enclosures.
Healesville Sanctuary is the place to see Australian native animals in their natural environment. It is also one of the best places to see Australia’s nocturnal animals.
Werribee Open Range Zoo is an African-themed zoo in Werribee, about 35 kilometres west of Melbourne’s city centre. It is located on the Werribee River in Werribee Park, adjacent to the Werribee Mansion. In addition to safari tours in open vehicles, the ‘Slumber Safari’ offers overnight accommodation in luxury tents. Werribee Open Range Zoo is also en route to the Great Ocean Road and a major attraction on Victoria’s Great Southern Touring Route.
Just minutes from the Perth CBD, Perth Zoo provides a tranquil natural ‘oasis’ within the city. Perth Zoo attracts many species of Australian native birds. The gardens are also an important part of Perth Zoo with some plants and trees older than 100 years. See the spectacular displays of Western Australian spring wild flowers in September and October.
Caversham Wildlife Park and Whiteman Park are located just a short 25-minute drive from the Perth CBD; or 45 minutes from Fremantle. The park showcases many of Australia's unique native animals, including koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and Tasmanian devils.
Wave Rock Wildlife Park at Hyden Western Australia’s south-west, offers visitors the chance to enjoy and observe hundreds of birds and animals from the region and around Australia.