Cairns Tropical Zoo is situated about 20 minutes drive from the centre of Cairns in north Queensland. The Zoo features a range of Australian and exotic animals, housed amongst six hectares of tropical gardens. Many of the animals are indigenous to the northern wet tropics. The Zoo opened in 1980, and is part of the Wildlife Tropical North Queensland Group owned and operated by the Freeman family. (The park used to be known as Wild World – The Tropical Zoo).
Visitors can walk through the kangaroo enclosure where about sixty Eastern Grey kangaroos roam freely and meet visitors. You can buy bags of kangaroo at the Zoo shop to hand feed the kangaroos. Throughout the day there are various shows and presentations including bird feeding in the walk-through aviary, Red Panda presentation, snake show, free flight bird show, Pelican feeding, Koala keeper talk and a Crocodile show. Visitors can have their photo taken with a Koala or Boa Constrictor (additional cost), and there are also free Wombat and Crocodile photo opportunities.
The Reptile House displays one of the most comprehensive reptile collections in the country with many Australian native snakes including large pythons and venomous snakes such as the Inland Taipan. Lizards on display include the Frill Necked Lizard, Blue Tongued Lizard and Monitor lizards. There are some exotic reptiles including the Burmese python, Boa Constrictors , Corn Snakes, Reticulated python and Fijian Banded Iguanas. The Zoo also has Saltwater Crocodiles and Freshwater Crocodiles as well as American Alligators.
Australian native mammals on display include Koalas, Echidnas, Common Wombats, Southern Hairy Nose Wombat, Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Agile Wallaby, Pademelons, Dingoes, Squirrel Gliders and possums. The Zoo also has a fairly small collection of exotic mammal species including Cotton Top Tamarins, Red Pandas, Ring-tailed Lemurs.
Emus and the endangered Southern Cassowary are on display. Cassowaries are massive rainforest birds that birds feed mainly on fruit but will also eat some small mammals, birds, lizards and insects. Cassowaries can be dangerous if they are threatened, especially when defending their young, and are capable of inflicting serious injury with their large strong claws. This bird is threatened by habitat destruction, dog attacks and road kills.
Tropical Water Birds display includes the Brolga, Pelicans, various duck species, Egrets, Herons and Ibis. The Walk Through Aviary houses Eclectus Parrots, Lorikeets, Metallic Starlings, Satin Bowerbirds and Torres Strait Pigeons. The Birds of Prey Aviary displays Laughing Kookaburras, Blue Winged Kookaburras, Southern Boobook Owls , Masked Owls, Lesser Sooty Owls and Papuan Frogmouths. The Free-flight Bird Show shows some of Australia’s most impressive raptors such as the Wedge-tailed Eagle and the White-bellied Sea Eagle, as well as smaller birds such as the Barn Owl.
The Forest Birds exhibits contain Forest Kingfisher , Sacred Kingfisher, Superb Fruit Dove, Wompoo Fruit Dove, Rose-crowned Fruit Dove and Noisy Pitta. You will see several cockatoo species – Galah, Major Mitchell Cockatoo, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and Red-tailed Black Cockatoo. Most of the birds on display are Australian natives, although two of the most spectacular are two South American Macaws.
The Zoo also runs an evening event called Cairns Night Zoo which operates from 7:00pm Monday to Thursday and Saturday nights. Night Zoo offers a steak, sausage and seafood barbecue diner, followed by a night walk round the zoo to see some of the nocturnal animals by torchlight. You will see owls, possums and kangaroos, and walk past the crocodile enclosure to see the crocs on the prowl at night. You may also get the opportunity to share billy tea and damper with a Jolly Swagman. After a complimentary beer or wine, there is a bit of a bush dance and sing song.
The Zoo is located on the main Captain Cook Highway at Palm Cove, and is an easy drive from Cairns. There are package tours available with bus pick up from Cairns hotels, and public transport bus service runs from Cairns to the Zoo. The Zoo is open from 8:30am to 4:00pm every day except Christmas day.