Rockhampton Zoo is situated in the Botanic Gardens next to the Murray Lagoon in Rockhampton, Queensland. The Zoo is home to over fifty species of native and exotic animals. Established in 1869, the Rockhampton Zoo has become a popular a tourist attraction and educational facility. The zoo is committed to the conservation of endangered Central Queensland animals.
The Kangaroos and Wallabies are very friendly. Red Kangaroos, Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Common Wallaroos and Agile Wallabies roam freely in grassy paddocks where visitors can walk amongst them. Other native mammals include Common Wombats and Dingoes.
The aviaries hold many colorful birds including King Parrots, Major Mitchell Cockatoo, Musk Lorikeets, Rainbow Lorikeets, Red-tailed Black Cockatoos and finches and small parakeets from Northern Australia The main dome aviary is a free flight walkthrough enclosure with raised pathway, allowing you to see the birds from different levels. The dome houses many native parrots, doves, pigeons and water birds in a natural setting of mature native trees, shrubs and other plants. One of the most fascinating birds at the Zoo is the large flightless Cassowary and Rockhampton has a breeding pair in a rainforest enclosure. On the far side of the Wombat Research Centre is Murray Lagoon, a wetlands area with a wide variety of wild water birds including spoonbills, herons and sometimes pelicans. Every afternoon, hundreds of wild lorikeets fly from the trees around Murray Lagoon to the Zoo for feeding.
Rockhampton Zoo exhibits Australia’s most deadly along with several species of non venomous snakes, Lace Monitors and the Perentie, Australia’s largest lizard. Both Saltwater (Estuarine) Crocodiles and the much smaller Freshwater Crocodiles are displayed. You can find out more about the Zoo’s reptiles at the snake show and the crocodile feeding. A new Reptile exhibit is under development, and it is planned to display local pythons, water dragons, blue-tongued lizards, stump tailed skinks and bearded dragons.
There is an elevated walkway through the Koala exhibit, giving you an opportunity to get closer to these adorable animals in their natural environment. Koalas don’t do much during the day, so don’t expect to see much action, but if you come back at feeding time at 3:30pm you will see them come down from their resting places in the trees to feed on some fresh eucalyptus leaves.
Rockhampton Zoo does not have a large exotic animal collection, although it does feature a number of monkeys and apes. The two chimpanzee brothers are a popular attraction and amuse visitors with their intelligent and playful nature. These two chimps were brought to Rockhampton back in 1986 when the zoo they were born in closed. Rockhampton residents have grown fond of these chimps over the years. A new Chimpanzee Rainforest Habitat is being built among the tropical forest to provide an enclosure five times the size of their current enclosure. The plan is to introduce female chimpanzees into the rainforest to allow them to grow into a family group. Other monkeys at the Zoo are a male Hamadryas Baboon and a pair of Crab-eating Macaques.
An important conservation project at the Zoo is the Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat Research Centre. There are only about 115 Northern Hairy-nosed Wombats left in the world (in a small area of Central Queensland), making them one of the world’s most endangered animals. At the Research Centre, the reproductive biology of the closely-related Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat is studied in order to assist recovery efforts for their endangered Northern relative. The Rockhampton Zoo has sixteen Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats and is developing husbandry and breeding techniques that will be applied to the Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat when a captive population is established. The Wombat Research Centre is not open to the public.
Rockhampton Regional Council is planning to upgrade the Zoo themed on ecosystems rather than individual animal species, with an emphasis on conservation and education. Results of a public survey indicated that visitors wanted more interactive exhibits with opportunity to touch and feed the animals.
Guided tours depart from the Botanic Gardens Kiosk at 10am and 2pm from Monday to Friday, with the afternoon finishing in time for the 3pm feeding sessions. Night tours are available, allowing visitors to see the nocturnal animals at their most active. Night tours are held every second Friday of the month at 7pm and bookings are essential.
The Rockhampton Zoo is located within the Botanic Gardens and can be accessed via Spencer or Ann Street, Rockhampton. The Zoo is open every day of the year between 8am and 5pm. Surprisingly for a city zoo, admission is free. There are donation boxes throughout for visitors who wish to contribute.