Monarto Zoo is an open range sanctuary set in about 1000 hectares of undulating open woodland. It plays an important role in breeding programs for endangered animal species. It is an ideal environment for wildlife from Savannah grasslands and semi-arid habitats of Africa, Asia, South America and Australia.
Monarto originated in 1983 as a closed special purpose breeding area. In 1993 it opened to the public as an international standard zoo. The Park is operated by the Royal Zoological Society of South Australia as a fauna and flora sanctuary and open range zoo. The animals are kept in open habitats ranging in size from 5 to 50 hectares of grasslands with groups of trees to provide shelter for wildlife. Low visibility fencing is used, and dry moats are used to separate some of the exhibits allowing close contact of the animals without fences. The major habitat exhibits include the Asian Steppes, arid North Africa, African plains and Asian grasslands.
Animals you will see at the zoo include Addax, African Lion, African Painted Dog, American Bison, Barbary Sheep, Black Rhinoceros, Blackbuck, Cheetah, Chimpanzee, Chital Deer, Dromedary Camel, Eland, Giraffe, Greater Bilby, Meerkat, Przewalski’s Horse, Scimitar-horned Oryx, Southern White Rhinoceros, Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby, Zebra..
Visitors can get round the zoo on the Zu-loop bus shuttle. The Zu-loop shuttle takes you to all the viewing platforms throughout the Zoo, including Giraffe, Cheetah, White Rhino, African Painted Dogs and Hyaena, African Lions. You can hop on or off the bus at any of the viewing platforms and is a good way to get round the Zoo without going on one of the structured tours. For those who want to walk, there is a 10 km network of walking tracks leading to all the wildlife viewing platforms. Presentations by guides and keepers can be enjoyed from the viewing platforms.
Included in your entry fee is a choice of two safari tours. These safari bus tours run at regular intervals throughout the day with first tour at 10.30am and last tour leaving at 3.30pm. You need to book your tours at reception. The Africa Tour is a 55 minute tour that takes you to see the Dromedary Camel, Scimitar Horned Oryx, Addax, Ostrich, Barbary Sheep, Giraffe, Eland, Water Buck, White Rhino, Cheetah, Spotted Hyena, African Painted Dog and Lion. The shorter Grasslands Tour is 25 minutes and takes you to see Mongolian Wild Horse, Bison, Black Rhino, Fallow Deer, Chital Deer, Black Buck, Zebra, Addax, Barbary Sheep, Scimitar Horned Oryx, Ostrich and Dromedary Camel. Availability on both tours cannot be guaranteed and you may experience lengthy delays at busy times. The Africa Tour is one of the highlights of a visit to Monarto, with informative commentary from your guide adding to the experience.
During the day there are numerous Feeding Times & Keeper Talks including Meerkat keeper talk, Carnivore keeper talk, Giraffe keeper talk, Cheetah keeper talk and Rhino keeper talk.
Behind the Scenes Tours are available if you want to get a closer encounter with some of the animals. These tours allow you to meet the animals, zookeepers and access off-limit areas. There are various behind the scenes tours on offer such as meeting the Lions, Cheetahs or Black Rhinoceros. For example, the “Meet Our Lions” is a 1 hour tour for a maximum of six people. You go behind the scenes to observe the lions close up, feed them and put them to bed.
Monarto Zoo is a 45 minute drive from Adelaide. Travel along the South-Eastern Freeway to the Monarto exit and follow the signs. The Zoo is open from 9.30am to 5pm every day of the year (except during extreme high temperatures).