17 January 2017
Australia Zoo is world famous as the home of over 1200 amazing animals from the koalas, kangaroos, and crocodiles of Australia to the tigers of Asia and India, the giraffe, rhino and zebra of Africa and so many more. However, what many of our wonderful guests are surprised to learn during their visit is that the land where Australia Zoo sits is a thriving habitat in its own right.
When Australia Zoo was still the Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park, it covered just 4 acres of bushland in the Sunshine Coast's stunning hinterland. Now, following Steve and Terri's success with the Crocodile Hunter series, Australia Zoo is a 105 acre wildlife sanctuary accessible to guests with another 800 acres of surrounding property also connected to Zoo grounds.
The acquisition of new land over time means Australia Zoo now comprises of a long flowing creek, grassy open woodland, lush rainforests and old plantations of macadamias, mangos, lychees and avocados which thrive in the Sunshine Coast's balmy weather.
The Zoo's natural and curated botanic diversity is so rich and varied that it attracts all kinds of wildlife and insects to live at the Zoo by choice as well as providing a highly stimulating environment for the Zoo animals to live within and explore.
The idyllic surroundings, protection and extra access to food has created a unique paradise where many animals have established themselves and thrived. Water dragons, bush turkeys, curlews, water hens, kookaburras, tawny frogmouths, native bees, pythons, possums and frogs are amongst some of the most common wild animals spotted, with their Zoo counterparts living alongside them comfortably.
Water dragons in various stages of maturity scatter every walkway within a 20 meter radius of a stream or pond connected to the creek and water hens can often be found boldly leading their chicks through the shallow pools at the edge of the crocodile's leafy homes. Often, our staff are stopped by guests who are concerned that our animals have escaped, and are interested to learn that the animals are wild and choose Australia Zoo as their natural home.
Native bees unlike European bees have no sting and are key pollinators for native Australian plant species. Tawny frogmouths and kookaburras are often spotted in the tall eucalypts of ‘Roo Heaven' and bush turkeys are responsible for the enormous nest mounds around the Zoo, often leaving a mess of leaves and sticks strewn across the pathways. Curlews scratch around in the shade during the day yet on sunset their infamous ‘screaming woman' cry can be heard, haunting anyone who doesn't know that they're a local feathered friend.
With frogs thriving in the abundance of water around the Zoo, and birds laying eggs in tall tree nests, snakes can sometimes be spotted in the warmer months moving to find a meal or soak in some sun.
Mammals such as possums are nocturnal dwellers in the surrounding bushland and are usually spotted later in the day when it's cooler. In winter of 2015, Zoo staff woke to find two tiny ringtail possums who had fallen from their mother keeping warm in the mane of a camel near the ‘Kids Zoo'. They were successfully reunited with their mother the next day.
Steve believed in taking measures to help people and animals live alongside one another successfully. Australia Zoo is testament to that belief which is now being adopted and understood in urban areas around the world. Instead of creating a place that is only human friendly, we're continuing to encourage an environment that caters to both humans and animals in an enriching way. We really mean it when we say, it's as wild as life gets!
So, for everyone planning on visiting and re-visiting the Zoo, keep an eye out for our wild wildlife. They're just as photogenic, if not slightly more shy but we love them just the same.
FACT: In mid-2016, Australia Zoo installed botanic plaques in many of the Zoo gardens detailing the plants that grew there, where they originated from and different facts about their preferred climate and unique properties as a way to acknowledge the important role they play in healthy environments alongside wildlife. Although the exact number is unknown, Australia Zoo has thousands of plant species growing on the property.
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