Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Perth Zoo was opened in 1898, just outside the heart of the city of Perth. The lush surrounding includes many original trees, now over 100 years old. The zoo is about 41 acres, and is home to about 1200 animals of more than 160 species. Many local creatures welcome themselves to the zoo as well, nesting in the large trees. Great White Egrets, Night Herons and even Australian Pelicans and Cockatoos can regularly be seen hanging around.
The very first exhibits at the zoo were fairly simple, including 2 bear caves, a monkey house, mammal house, and oddly, a castle for guinea pigs. Within a relatively short time, the zoo welcomed an orangutan, two monkeys, four ostriches, two lions and a tiger. The zoo has been modernized in recent years, and the enclosures closely mimic the natural environments of each species. Due to the arid, sandy soil that is the natural state of the area, it took bringing in a lot of nutrient rich manure and digging a well for irrigation to allow the zoo to grow not only amazing roses, 60 kinds of palm trees, tropical plants and even the greens they feed the zoos animals.
The zoo is divided into zones, and in the Australian Walkabout zone, there are four defined exhibit areas: Australian Wetlands, Penguin Plunge, Reptile Encounter, and Australian Bushwalk. In the wetlands, elegant black swans float about, cormorants dive, and shelducks and coots also share the area. This is also where guests can visit the zoos crocodiles and tortoises. At Penguin Plunge, visitors can watch the acrobatics of little penguins through underwater viewing windows at the 13,000 gallon pool. Reptile encounter has 17 exhibits of cold-blooded creatures, including several types of python, frilled dragons, water monitors, skinks and adders. And in the bushwalk, many of Australia’s most famous animals roam or climb about, and guests can view the cuddly koalas, red and grey kangaroos, echidnas, wombats, wallaby’s, and Tasmanian Devils.
The Nocturnal House is home to a collection of critters that are most active at night. A few of the animals guests can expect to see once eyes have adjusted to the dim lighting include bilby, a bandicoot-like creature native to Australia and currently listed as a vulnerable species, the ghost bat, squirrel glider, bandicoots, tarantulas, funnel spiders and even scorpions. The African Savannah is an area of the zoo that features many of the large mammals that are zoo favorites, including swift cheetah, noisy baboons, Rothschild’s giraffe, hyenas and Southern White Rhinoceros. There are also African Painted Dogs, an endangered wolf like canine with large ears and a mottled coat. Grants zebra are also residents of the Savannah section.
While there are no African Elephants at the zoo, there are their relatives, the Asian Elephants, which are located in the Asian Rainforest region of the zoo. Orangutans also have an exhibit in this area, as well as sun bears, white-cheeked gibbons, small-clawed otters, and Sumatran Tiger. The Perth Zoo is very committed to conservation of Sumatran Orangutans, and has the most successful breeding program in the world, having had 27 baby orangutans born over the years. In 2006, one of the young orangutans from the zoo was released into the wild, the first ever captive bred orangutan to be returned to their natural home.
For monkey lovers, there are more primates to be found in the Lesser Primate section, including ring-tailed lemurs, capuchins, and squirrel monkeys. There are some of the world’s tiniest primates nearby as well, including the common marmoset, cotton-top tamarins from South America, Emperor Tamarins and pygmy marmosets. The Lemurs and gibbons have open air enclosures on two islands on the Main Lake at the zoo, which enhances the visitors viewing experience as the only thing separating them from the monkeys is a little bit of water.
Guests should be sure to check the schedule for keepers talks when they arrive, as the zoo averages more than one an hour. The keeper talks range from subjects such as rhinos to meerkats, sun bears to crocodiles. And for even more personal interactions with the keepers and the animals, there are five different behind the scenes experiences available at an extra charge.