One of the highlights of a day trip we took while in Sydney was a visit to Featherdale Wildlife Park. This is a relatively small zoo, close to Sydney and dedicated to exhibits of Australian animals…over 1700 of them in fact!
The fun started as soon as we entered the park because we immediately met some small wallabies and one had a joey in it’s pouch! The wallabies where quite friendly and allowed us to touch them. How cool!
But the best was yet to come: Koalas! We entered the koala exhibit to see several of the cuties in pens around the perimeter, but what really caught our eye were the three koalas in the front. Each koala had a trainer and there was a line in front of the group. Once you got through the line you were allowed to touch a koala and get your picture taken. How cool!
We stood in line for about ten minutes and finally it was our turn. We had already decided: Mona would be the toucher and I would be the photographer. Mona was almost shaking with delight as she walked up to her koala. She tentatively touched the koala and I raised my camera to snap the picture. Just then the koala turned his head! Darn! I walked to the other side of the koala and darned if the koala didn’t turn his head again! Then the trainer intervened and said to Mona, “You’ve broken this one.”
Mona’s face turned sad immediately. You could tell she was almost heartbroken at the thought of harming a koala. The trainer saw this and quickly said, “Just kidding. That’s the koala’s way of telling us that he’s tired and wants to take a break.” Seriously, koalas get breaks?!?! The trainer then took the tired koala away and brought in a fresh one. Immediately the new koala started chewing on his eucalyptus leaves and seemed to smile as I took as many pictures as I could. All was good again!
More Animals to See!
Let’s face it, it’s hard to top a personal koala interaction; so for Mona the highlight of her visit had already occurred. But there was still much to see! First up was the Tasmanian Devil exhibit. I’ve seen these creatures on The Bugs Bunny Show for years, but now I got to see real devils! They aren’t as big as expected, only about 15 pounds, but their screeches and their snarling eating noises makes them worthy of their name! Devils occur in the wild only on the island of Tasmania so we didn’t see any on our Australian Safari, and frankly that’s fine with me!
Then the flying foxes. Flying foxes, you say? Yes…these fellows are the size of cocker spaniels (or foxes) and they fly! These were behind bars and actually I was pretty good with that since they looked pretty ferocious!
There were lots of kangaroo and wallaby pens throughout the park with signs providing information about each. I still struggle with the difference between a kangaroo and a wallaby, but here’s my amateur version of the differences. First off, kangaroos are larger, weighing up to 200 pounds and standing 6 feet tall. Wallabies are much smaller. Kangaroos are also generally monotone in color usually in shades of gray and reddish brown. Wallabies have more color variations including stripes and their colors are brighter. Finally, there are 4 species of kangaroo, versus 11 for the wallabies. Know you know!
We also love all the exotic birds that you can see in Australia: cockatoos, storks, and of course emus! (Does anyone remember Rod Hull and His Emu who used to appear on the Smothers Brothers?) Here at Featherdale there are hundreds of these birds on exhibit. My favorites were the emus and the the storks.
Near the end of our visit we turned a corner and met Mona’s favorite Australian bird: blue penguins. These little guys are sometimes called fairy penguins because they are so small, growing to only 12 or 13 inches tall. They live on the coastlines and islands along southern and southeastern Australia. How cool would it be to visit a colony of these cute little guys?
Of course, Featherdale has many more animals to see including: crocodiles, echidnas, dingos and many many more. There are so many interesting Australian animals here that it would take a couple of visits to have close encounters with them all.
We loved our visit to Featherdale Wildlife Park and hope to return some day. In the meantime we highly recommend it to anyone visiting the Sydney area!
Here’s Featherdale’s site: http://www.featherdale.com.au
We visited on Featherdale on a tour by: AAT Kings
We booked our tour through Viator