By Jon Thompson
June 13th started just as our previous days here have started, with rain pouring from the clouds over the east coast of Australia. We are convinced that the storm is following us on our journey up north to Cairns as well, but hopefully, positive thoughts will help us conclude this trip with some good weather.
Through the rain and clouds, we journeyed an hour and a half to Beerwah, Queensland where we were entertained by mellow Kangaroos, lazy Tigers, leaping Crocodiles and many more at the Australia Zoo. As a kid, I idolized Steve Irwin’s passion for animals and adventure. Being able to visit his zoo and see the impact that he’s left on the employees and his family was incredible. The crocodile hunter died almost 11 years ago and today his family, the Australia Zoo, and the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve still carry out his legacy and research every day. When people visit the Australia Zoo or the SIWR, they are funding conservation projects that protect many species including crocodiles, tigers, wombats, elephants and cheetah. June 13th was a free day with the option to pay extra to go to the zoo, but growing up a huge crocodile hunter fan and knowing the amazing things that the Irwin family does for animals across the world, going to the zoo was a no-brainer for me.
We arrived at the zoo and were told the best way to see everything was to take the shuttle to the other end of the park and walk back. So that’s what we did. First, we saw Giraffes, Zebras, and Rhinos. We then walked down to Bindi’s Island where we saw colorful Macaws, a 300 kg Tortoise, and a pack of Lemurs with their tails wrapped around their bodies like scarves to keep warm. We wanted to make it to the “Croceseum” to catch the show, but on the way, we saw Tigers, Kangaroos, Koalas, Emus, and exotic flora native to Australia. We had trekked back close to the beginning where we caught the wildlife show that featured many different species of birds, a few snakes, and a crocodile finale. There are over 800 species of bird in Australia and half of those are only found in Australia.
We witnessed the precision and elegance that many of these birds are capable of exhorting while they flew over the crowd, which is something we may never see again unless we come back to Australia (I will be back). The finale included the stealthy and dangerous crocodile feeding which was intriguing to see the bravery of the staff as they dangled fish and birds inches away from the crocodile’s mouth. The show ended with the crocodile vertically leaping out of the water to snatch his snack from the trainer’s hand with minimal effort.
If you’re ever in Brisbane, Australia, I highly recommend going to the Australia Zoo. It’s a great mixture of plant and animal life and on a bright sunny day, I’m sure it’s 10 times more fun and lively than what we experienced today.