Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Taronga Zoo, or A Close Encounter with an Emu

On Monday I headed out on another ferry, this time over to Taronga Zoo on the north side of Sydney. It looks unassuming upon arrival, but once you take the Sky Safari up to the top of the zoo, you can see that there is more than meets the eye. The Sky Safari deposits you right at the zoo shop and main entrance. If you plan on going to the zoo, I recommend purchasing the Zoo Express Pass, which for 50.50 gets you a return ferry ticket, a ride on the Sky Safari, and a bus ride down to the bottom of the zoo once you're finished looking around. It will come in handy.

The zoo covers a pretty good size, with winding paths taking you through different exhibits. The focus is mainly on Australia's animals, which is nice because my previous zoo experiences have been a little lacking in this area. This meant I could see kangaroos, koalas, and wallabies up close, as well as Tasmanian devils, echidnas, and other unique Aussie animals. One of my favorite parts was an area called the “Australian walkabout,” where you can go into this fenced-in area that has small kangaroos, wallabies, and emus walking around freely. When I saw freely, I mean it, too. I was taking a picture of the wallabies and roos enjoying a snooze in the sun and had put my camera down to come face to face with an emu. He (she?) looked at me, I looked back, and I think we had a mutual understanding of some sort. I waited until the emu had walked away some before I took a picture, however. The experience itself was pretty awesome.

The zoo also had a number of shows and talks designed to put the different animals on display for patrons, as well as bring attention the zoo's wildlife conservation efforts. My companion Jetske and I caught the elephant show, where both large and small elephants showed off their skills, as well as a bird show that brought lots of laughs. The birds flew above and through the crowd, swooping down to take food from their trainers, and providing comic relief. There was a minor mishap when a bird flew too close and clipped his trainer. All you saw was a poof of feathers, and the poor bird lying rather stunned on the ground. Thankfully, both the bird and trainer were fine, and returned later to accept donations from throngs of eager children.

It took us about 6 hours to work through the whole zoo, including a break for lunch, and the animal shows. But the hike was worth it, as we thoroughly enjoyed our time there, and took some great pictures.  (To come later!)

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