The National Zoo & Aquarium is a combined zoo and aquarium situated on about 25 acres five minutes from the centre of Canberra. It has a range of native and exotic animals, with the Australian wildlife including kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, dingoes, wombats, Tasmanian devils. The combination of aquarium and native and exotic animals adds to the interest.
The aquarium features reef sharks in a 200,000 litre salt water tank. There is also a Barrier Reef feature with brilliantly coloured reef fish and other marine life. The lower floor of the aquarium houses the freshwater displays with a range of aquatic creatures from freshwater rivers and lakes.
The Zoo features some fascinating exotic wildlife, and one of the highlights is the collection of large cats – African Lion, Sumatran Tiger, Bengal Tiger, Cougar, Cheetah, Serval and Snow Leopard. Other exotics include bears, giraffes, zebras, red pandas, otters and several species of monkeys. There is also a variety of reptiles and birds on display.
For a really close encounter with the animals, you can take a special tour to become a zookeeper for a day. These “Walk on the Wildside” tours may include activities such as interactive encounter with cheetahs, feeding giraffes, weighing a lion, hand feeding a shark, playing with monkeys, feeding large cats and bears. The tour runs from 8am to 3:30pm subject availability, but is fairly expensive. There is also a Meet A Cheetah experience.
During the school holidays, the Zoo runs a holiday program with fun, interactive learning experiences for children aged 5 to 12 years. On weekends, school holidays, and public holidays there are talks and animals feeding with photo opportunities. There are complimentary barbecues in the park for visitors to have lunch in the park and make a day of it.
The National Zoo & Aquarium is located at Scrivener Dam, Yarralumla, Canberra, Australia. Access is from Lady Denman Drive in Yarralumla, about 9km from the centre of Canberra.