If you didn’t cuddle a koala or take a selfie with a kangaroo did you really even go to Australia?
Australia is home to two of the world’s most famous zoos: Taronga Zoo in Sydney and Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast. I was lucky enough to visit both during my time in Australia: Taronga with my family in January and Australia Zoo with Lewis and our friend in April. If you’re planning a shorter trip to Australia you may not have time to visit both… so how do you pick? While both zoos are pretty fantastic, here’s a handy guide comparing the pros and cons of both places to help you decide.
Known as “the Zoo with a View” Taronga Zoo is located in the heart of Sydney Harbor.
Getting to the Zoo:
The best and easiest way to get to the zoo is by ferry. Leaving from Circular Quay the ferry should take you about 12 minutes.
We did Captain Cook’s 24-hour Hop-on Hop-off tour which allows you to visit Taronga Zoo as well as many other scenic locations throughout Sydney all via ferry boat.
Tickets and Pricing:
Taronga Zoo has a massive array of different animals! It’s hard to know where to begin. I loved the big seal exhibit right as you first walk in. They’re so cute and it’s so fun to watch them play. Don’t miss the daily seal show!
Look at the epic view the giraffes get! These guys were one of my favorites at Taronga. There’s even an encounter experience where you can feed them which I’m sure would be awesome.
The zoo also has a cable car called the Sky Safari which takes you to the top of the zoo. You get a unique aerial view of the zoo as well as another cool view of Sydney Harbor.
Top tip: Arrive at the zoo when it first opens to get the best sights of the animals before they get tired out in the mid-day heat.
The famous crocodile hunter himself: Australia Zoo is the brainchild of Steve Irwin and his family. While Steve unfortunately isn’t around anymore his spirit is very much alive at Australia Zoo.
Getting to the Zoo:
Located on the Sunshine Coast, there are a few different ways to get to Australia Zoo.
Greyhound Australia offers a stop at Australia Zoo with routes from Brisbane and Noosa as well as a packaged deal that combines the admission fee with the bus pass.
Tickets & Pricing:
From the moment we walked through the doors at Australia Zoo opportunities to get up close and personal with the animals were abundant. The friendly staff at the zoo were so eager to tell you all about the animals… from their names, their temperaments, their favorite foods…as well as answer any questions you may have.
This was the most ‘hands-on’ zoo I’ve ever been to. There’s an open-range park where you can feed, pet and take photos with rambunctious little red and gray kangaroos. A generous bag of ‘roo food’ is $2 but it’s free to enter the Roo Heaven. You can also feed baby lambs, goats and piglets.
You’re allowed to actually walk through the koala habitat and even pet one while it sleeps in a tree. You have to pay to have an ‘encounter’ with a koala and actually hold it but I was so happy just to be able to pet one! They’re adorable!
I also loved the “Bindi’s Island” section of the zoo. I think lemurs are the funniest and strangest animals ever and look how close you could get! Unbelievable!
Don’t miss the 12:00 Wildlife Warriors show where giant snakes, soaring birds and the Steve’s notorious crocs do some pretty wild demonstrations.
Taronga really does live up to it’s “zoo with a view” reputation–the animals get some seriously prime Sydney real estate and it’s a fun and easy day trip from the city. Taronga boasts a wider variety of animals while Australia Zoo focuses mainly on, you guessed it, Australian animals.
However, the amount of interactivity at Australia Zoo really blew my mind.
The spirit of Steve Irwin really lives on at the Australia Zoo. Steve really wanted animals and people to get along together and live in harmony and the zoo really represents that. Lewis and I were beyond impressed with how welcoming and interactive the zoo was. Australia Zoo lets you get as close to the animals as safely (for both you and for the animals) possible. I also loved how getting up close with the animals also didn’t come with a hefty extra charge. There are loads of ‘encounters’ you can book with different animals (everything from cuddling a koala to taking a selfie with a cheetah) that do cost extra but touching feeding the kangaroos and patting a koala didn’t cost extra at all!
Have you been to the Taronga Zoo or the Australia Zoo? Which did you like better? Let me know in the comments!!
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