Adelaide Zoo has over 1,800 animals and almost 300 species of exotic and native mammals, birds, reptiles and fish in a landscaped botanic garden setting. The zoo is set on 8 hectares and is situated within a 15 minute walk of the centre of Adelaide.
The Zoo focuses on endangered and rare animals from South America, Africa, India, South East Asia and Australia. Major exhibits include the South East Asian Rainforest, Seal Bay, Australian Rainforest Wetlands, Africa, South America, India, Nocturnal House and Reptile House.
Adelaide Zoo opened in 1883 and like the other old Australian zoos, was modeled on the major European zoos of the time, particularly Regents Park Zoo in London. Adelaide Zoo is the second oldest zoo in Australia after Melbourne Zoo and has retained many of the original architectural features giving it a unique style. The zoo is also a botanic garden with some superb specimens of old trees, including a Moreton Bay Fig planted in 1877 before the zoo was established. Many of the trees are identified with their botanic names. Five structures at the Zoo are heritage listed: the Elephant House is a Victorian style animal enclosure built in 1900, and a reminder of how zoos looked in that era; the Head Keeper’s Cottage built in 1883; the Main Gates and Entrance Walls built in 1883; the Rotunda built in 1884; the Directors Dwelling (now Minchin House) built in 1887. Adelaide Zoo has a captive breeding and management program and has successfully bred species such as Yellow-footed rock Wallabies, Greater Bilbies, Red pandas, Golden-lion Tamarins and Sumatran tigers.
While the Zoo has a rich Victorian heritage, it is also a leader in modern enclosure design, with larger open enclosures. The South East Asian Rainforest and Jewels of Asia Exhibit are examples of exhibits with natural appearance to blend in with the surrounding environment. The Immersion-South East Asian Rainforest exhibit houses animals in a natural looking environment with rainforest trees. The first stage was completed in 1995 and features Siamangs, Dusky Langurs, White-cheeked Gibbons, Malayan Tapirs and Malayan Sun bears. The second stage, completed in 2006, houses the Sumatran tiger and the Sumatran orangutan and. The Jewels of Asia display is a large aviary exhibit with a range of colourful Australian and exotic birds including the Palm Cockatoo, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Golden Pheasant, Noisy Pitta, Chestnut-breasted Munia, Red Avadavat, Black-capped Lory, Dusky Lory, Rose-crowned Fruit-dove, Lady Amherst’s Pheasant, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Sacred Kingfisher and more. There is a good display of other Australian birds in the rainforest walk through aviary and other aviaries.
During the day there are numerous presentations including the Blue and Gold Macaw free-flight presentation, Hippo pumpkin feed, Lion feeding, Leopard feeding, Pelican feeding, Penguin feeding, Australian Rainforest Bird Feed. There are a number of guided tours throughout the departing from various points (see Zoo program for details).
Australian Region mammals on display include the Black-footed Rock Wallaby, Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby, Kangaroo Island Kangaroo, Koala, Long-nosed Potoroo, Red Kangaroo, Short-beaked Echidna, Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat, Tammar Wallaby, Tasmanian Devil, Western Grey Kangaroo and Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby. African wildlife includes Lions, Leopard, African Wild Dog, Hippopotamus, Giraffe, Meerkat, Ring-tailed Lemur, Serval and Caracal.
Children can enjoy feeding animals such as deer, sheep and kangaroos at the Children’s Zoo. Animal food is available from the Children’s Zoo gatekeeper. Animals in the Children’s Zoo area include Kangaroos, Wallabies Wallaby, Deer, Sheep, Goats, Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Chicken and other domestic birds and Cockatoos.
The most exciting development for Adelaide Zoo in 2009 will be the arrival of Wang Wang and Funi, a pair of giant pandas. The pandas will be housed in the new Giant Panda Forest. This exhibit will have a Bamboo Forest entrance from the heart of the zoo, with two large outdoor exhibits with over 5000 trees and over thirty species of plants. You will be to see the pandas from a large undercover viewing area. The Giant Panda enclosure will have a nursery and a cubbing den, where hopefully these pandas will start a family. The zoo will have the two pandas on a ten year loan from China as part of an international breeding program. The exhibit is on the Plane Tree Drive side of the Zoo between the Jewels of Asia display and the Hippos.
For additional cost there are a number of behind the scenes and close up tours that you can take part in including Baboons at Breakfast, Bears at Breakfast, Big Cat Encounter, Feathered Friends, Hippo Close Encounter, Orangutan Encounter, Rapt in Reptiles. For example the Big Cat Encounter allows you to feed Lions and get close to Leopard and Tigers. The one hour tour is available three days a week (for up to six people).
If you really want to experience what a day in the life of a Zoo Keeper is like, you may be interested in the “Keeper for a Day” full day tour. You will have the opportunity to work with some of the many zoo animals throughout your day, such as Giraffes, Monkeys, Tigers and Hippos. You will also get a look at the Animal Health Centre, where you may see animal treatment in progress. This tour does not come cheap though – check Zoo web site for details.
The Adelaide Zoo is located about 1km north of the city centre on the banks of the River Torrens. The Zoo is open every day from 9.30am – 5pm. The Reptile House and Nocturnal House are open from 10am to 4.30pm.