One of the other things “To DO” in Brisbane is actually included here is this post, but it really isn’t in Brisbane, but Brisbane happens to be the closest real city to it. But really, my purpose in this post is not to try and take a side or even give much insight other than my opinion of this truly wonderful park. We were so impressed with this zoo, that we wished we could have spent more than just a day there.
I have wanted to do this particular post for some time now, but because not too long after our visit to Steve Irwin’s Australia’s Zoo, Steve lost his life while doing what he loved most, (communing with nature). When that happened, I really didn’t want to blog about our expierence because it seemed almost disrespectful to his loss. But the pain of that world wide grief from Steve's loss seems to have subsided and won’t be mentioned much again until the next yearly milestone of his death.
The zoo is in the city of Beerwah which was only about an hour’s bus ride from our hotel in Brisbane. Australia’s Zoo was actually opened by Bob and Lyn Irwin (Steve Irwin's folks) in 1970 under the name Beerwah Reptile Park. Bob Irwin is a world renowned herpetologist, who is also regarded as a pioneer in the keeping and breeding of reptiles. His wife Lyn was one of the first to care for and rehabilitate sick and injured wildlife in southeast Queensland.
Bob and Lyn passed on their love and respect for wildlife onto their children, especially to their son Steve Irwin, who had helped his parents since childhood to care for crocodiles and reptiles and to maintain the growing number of animals in the zoo. Over a decade later the park was renamed to the Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park and the area was doubled with the purchase of another four acres. In 1987 the Crocodile Environmental Park was opened in an effort to aid saltwater crocodile protection. By the 1990s the Crocodile Environmental Park had become very popular and was seen as unique for its display of crocodile feeding within the park.
In 1991 Steve "The Crocodile Hunter" Irwin overtook management of the zoo. In 1992 the park was renamed again, becoming Australia Zoo. Currently, the zoo maintains more than 1000 animals and over 550 staff.
The zoo has encompassed a large area of 72 acres which will be expanded to over 500 acres over time in the areas in which many of the animals live. In order to reduce long walks, a 'modified trailered bus' has been utilized, named Steve's Safari Shuttle, which operates on a reasonably narrow bitumen roadway circuit.
At the zoo there is also a stadium, named the 'Animal Planet Crocoseum', which has a capacity of approximately 5000. At the time of its construction, it was the first in the world where snake, bird and crocodile shows were conducted.
Australia Zoo calls these shows 'Wildlife Warriors 101". One can also view a crocodile feeding and even participate in an elephant feeding (the elephant feeding can be participated in during the mornings on the roadway circuit at the first crossover to the internal section of the zoo or in the afternoons at 'Elephantasia' (Australia's largest Elephant exhibit) around the back of the zoo near tiger temple).
There is a running space for kangaroos that you can feed, and there is often an opportunity to pet a koala. The zoo's sponsored charity Wildlife Warriors also run a rescue operation and care station for any native wildlife who may be injured in accidents outside the zoo.
As of the end of 2006, the elephant enclosure was expanded, the water pool had just been completed and 'Elephantasia' officially opened in December of 2006. Furthermore, a construction of an artificial island (to represent the Island of Madagascar), began in 2006, and accommodates African animals such as tortoises, lemurs and other species not yet represented. The South-East Asian Precinct will also be improved with the introduction of Orangutans, and transfer of the Komodo Dragons, which inhabit an enclosure near to the entrance to create a more complete Bio-Climatic Asian Region. A number of high-profile people have contributed to or supported Australia Zoo, including Justin Timberlake and the Dalai Lama.
Speaking of celebrity types, they had a guy there at the park as an entertainer playing many of the aborigines’ musical instruments like the didgeridoo and then more contemporary instruments like drums, guitars, keyboards, harps and flutes. His name was Matt James (also known as Matty). Matty's songs
were very unique, and even though I thought about buying one of his CD’s, (and retrospectively wished I had) because I could not find them for sale outside of the park. I thought for sure I would be able to find them once I got back to the states, but I was not able to find them anywhere here.
Mrs. LZ was almost scared to death when we were in the ‘Animal Planet Crocoseum' and the zoo employees started walking around the Crocoseum with snakes, asked everyone to pet them. Mrs. LZ said; “No thank you!” And she meant it!
If you happen to follow news from "down-under" about the Zoo, you may know that in March 2008, the Zoo was accused of animal 'cruelty' and of breaking Australian law 13 times by not releasing koalas within their prescribed habitats. The Environment Protection Association said that they are now monitoring and investigating why the Koalas were not released correctly.
Recently a staff member told a local paper ("The Sunday Mail") that American-born Mrs. Irwin plans to sell the tourist attraction to US television channel Animal Planet and move back to the United States with children Bindi and Robert.
The speculation surrounding the sale and move was believed to be behind the recent rift, which saw her father-in-law, Bob Irwin, leave the zoo he started 32 years ago. The zoo employee said the rumored sale and $100 million Disney-style wildlife theme park was common knowledge among the zoo's current 550 staff members.
However an Australia Zoo spokeswoman said the leaked information was incorrect. She said Australia Zoo had not been sold to Animal Planet and Mrs. Irwin had no plans to leave Australia. The spokeswoman refused to comment on future plans that might involve Animal Planet.
As you can see from the attached shots I too there, we had just a wonderful day at the zoo and were extremely impressed with how friendly all the employees were. As a very positive review from me was how clean this park was. Much like you would expect from a “Disney type” park.“I believe our biggest issue is the same biggest issue that the whole world is facing, and that's habitat destruction.”
~ Steve Irwin