Friday, June 12, 2009

That’s right, there was no June 11th! We got our luggage & went through customs quickly and got our rental car, we were on our way in a Toyota Corolla!

We made our way up to Beerwah relatively easily, Michael did a good job of driving on the left side of the road. The Australia Zoo

(which is why we came to Brisbane) opens at 9:00 AM and we got there about 10 minutes early. It was a bit chilly, but the skies were clear and the sun was bright! (Michael and I both commented that the sun seemed brighter down here on the Sunshine Coast). Upon entering the gate, we were greeted by a 50 year old cockatoo and some nice “AZ” workers. He could say “Polly Wants a Cracker” and “byebye.” We then saw some otters (running in circles chasing each other), Gila monster, komodo dragon, and kookaburras! The kookaburras were really cute with their puffy heads of hair. I so wanted to hear their laugh!

Side note – I loved the idea of kookaburras when I was a child. I used to sing the kookaburra song a lot, even though I didn’t know what a “gum tree” or “the bush” was. Finally seeing a kookaburra, in Australia, was a big deal to me J

We then wandered through the very large area dedicated to alligators & crocodiles. I had no idea they lived so long – one of them was born in 1933! We briefly saw the koala home on our way to the wombats. The wombats were really cute and were up & about. They liked to dig in the sand a lot. They also enjoyed a picnic (on a picnic blanket, actually) while we were watching them, and we later learned about “death by wombat butt.” Wombats have a big bony plate in their butt that they can hit predators with.

Took a quick walk through a bird area & then the snake area. Saw tons of snakes – venomous and non.

Our next adventure was an elephant feeding. We thought we’d just get to watch, but we got to help! We each got to feed a pear to Bimbo the elephant who was born in the 1950’s. It was a really funny feeling when the trunk was feeling around my hand.

Next was our lemur encounter!! We got to ride on a golf cart to the “behind the scenes” area where they were preparing an African exhibit. They had about 10 lemurs and we got to hang out with three of them and feed them. They had some cut up fruit & they would take it out of our hands. They would also sit in our laps. It was a really cool experience and I’m glad we did it, since the lemurs weren’t on display.

We had a quick lunch then went to “Roo Heaven” where the roos and wallabies just wander free & people can go in to feed them. We got some “roo food” and hung out with them for a while. A nice AZ lady took our picture with some sleepy roos.

Our next area had foxes (sleepy), dingos (sleepy & looked like a normal dog), & Tasmanian devils. The devils were not cute & reminded me of “ROUSes” from The Princess Bride.

We then listened to some quick presentations on 2 introduced species, camel & fox. Camel – slobbery! Fox – shy.

Next was a quick koala show. Learned why they’re lazy (not much energy in eucalyptus leaves), they have a special bony bottom for branch-sitting, & they may be extinct in a few decades because of a virus. Got to pet one that was brought around.

At some point we went to the “Crocoseum” for the big show. Got to see snakes, birds, etc. At the end, the big croc was brought out for feeding. It was HUGE & the only croc to ever bite anyone at the AZ (Steve & another guy). I can only imagine how cool this show would have been with Steve hosting it.

We then made our way to the far side of the zoo & saw rainforest birds, red pandas (Oy), a kind of free-range koala area, tigers (chillin out with 4 zookeepers), the old elephants, and a cheetah who was licking on a tuna ice cream bar J Also wandered through the wetland area and saw some “Cassowaries.” I’d never heard of or seen these birds before, but they are huge and beautiful.

We were finally done seeing everything and it was approaching closing time (and we were TIRED!). On our way out we encountered three cool things

1) Back in Roo Heaven we found a mama kangaroo w/ her joey hanging out!

2) Heard a kookaburra laugh!! It sounded like a happy toddler in fits of laughter.

3) The koalas were awake and stripping the eucalyptus branches.

Overall, the zoo was just amazing. Steve Irwin’s presence is still felt, the workers still refer to “Steve” as if he could show up at any time. I loved how interactive the zookeepers were – we got tons of spontaneous lessons and had some great conversations. Just wonderful.

The drive back to Brisbane was difficult when we got to town (rush hour, dark, wrong side of the road, sleepy, lost, etc) but we made it to the hotel eventually. I skipped dinner & Michael ate some food from a 7-11 around the corner. I just wasn’t all that hungry. I went to sleep at 7:00 J

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