Are you wanting something exotic and fun to visit? Then check out some of Australia’s Zoos which have the edge and make the top 10 list!

Australian zoos play a key role in keeping some of the world’s most endangered animals alive. There is a whole lot more than gathering a collection of animals from around the world and putting them behind bars.

The best way to find out is to be taken around by a zookeeper or have close encounters, by booking a tour. Many zoos offer education and information to the public about their amazing animals and the biodiversity of our planet.

1. Melbourne Zoo, Victoria

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Cost of entry: $38 general admission, concessions for children, pensioners, students and families. Zoo membership is available. Exclusive encounters, overnight stays or close-up experience can be booked.

https://www.zoo.org.au/melbourne/

Be inspired by the variety and history of this recently ranked ‘Best Zoo’ in Australia.  Opening its doors in 1862 it is Australia’s oldest zoo and it is loaded with animals. Boasting more than 5000 animals from more than 320 species it is established on 55 acres of grounds and enclosures.

Walk where tigers roam and monkeys swing from tree to tree. Get up close to orangutans in their special elevated exhibit, explore the trail of elephants then head down the bush track to see the Australian wildlife.

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The Lion Gorge development is the best of its kind in Australia. Designed around the theme of a waterhole, where different wildlife gathers to drink. 

As well as Lions you can also see African wild dogs, Philippines crocodiles and other predators in the gorge. The lion enclosure has floor to ceiling windows which means you can safely get up close to the animals.

Submerge yourself underwater at Wild Sea. This spectacular space allows you to watch Victoria’s iconic little penguin play and Australian fur seals frolic. 

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Upgrade your visit by booking the Roar and Snore overnight camp, behind the scene gorilla tours or Australian wildlife tours with the chance to meet the keepers. Upgrades can also give you close up encounters with lemurs, giraffes, giant tortoises, kangaroos, meerkat and seals can be experienced.  For upcoming events visit their website for more information.

2. Australia Zoo, Beerwah, Queensland

Bindi Irwin introduces Australia Zoo's new tiger cubs to the world ...

Cost of entry: $61 general admission. Discounts for children, pensioners, students and families.

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Founded by Steve Irwin’s parents in 1970, it is not surprising that the Crocodile Hunter’s legacy is home to three species, the Saltwater Crocodiles, Freshwater Crocodiles and American Alligators. There is a daily show to feed the reptiles as well as tigers and cheetah feeding and much more!

The Zoo is a haven for over 100 different species nestled in over 110 acres. It is a safe space for more than 1,200 animals and is the most interactive conservation destination in Australia. Visit the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, which can educate the world about animal conservation and to increase the chances of protecting all wildlife. The hospital is extremely busy taking in rescued animals from the recent Summer bush fires in Queensland.

Championing conservation, the zoo has won many awards since opening its doors. 

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You can hug a koala, feed a kangaroo or even walk alongside a wombat! At the zoo there is a South-East Asia environment which is home to tigers and a beautiful red panda. The African animals have their own savannah. You can take a trip to Bindi’s Island, and climb a three-story treehouse, to spot ring-tailed lemurs, giant tortoises, colourful parrots and so much more.

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There are lots of free daily shows on the website including the Wildlife Warriors Show at midday in the Crocoseum, which has wriggling, swooping, jaw-snapping action of epic saltwater crocodiles, birds and snakes!

3. Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo

Cost of entry: $48 general admission save 10% on individual tickets and 20% on family tickets by booking online https://sales.taronga.org.au/dubbo/tickets/details/166

Whether you walk, drive or ride around Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, there is so much to see and do. Compared to other zoos in Australia, Dubbo’s enclosures give you the ultimate Zoo experience. Animals are given much more space to live in a natural environment than you are likely to see in other zoos. There are no fences that you can see so you feel like you are on a safari with animals roaming on the open plains. There are subtle barriers like trenches or moats making you feel like you up close as you journey through dense, natural bushland and open plains.

As home to hundreds of rare and endangered animals, Dubbo’s magical experience includes giraffes, rhinos, elephants and big cats. The African Lion Pride Lands precinct does have a glass viewing window to view these lethal predators or you can ride on the Pride Lands Patrol, a purpose-built tour that journeys deep into Lion territory.  When exploring the African experience there is just a moat separating you and the animals.  One of Dubbo Zoo’s wildlife encounter options gives you the chance to hand-feed giraffes, meet a meerkat, black handed spider monkeys and ring-tailed Lemurs. 

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You can hire a bike, car or electric safari cart and all tickets are valid for two consecutive days to give you ample time to experience all that is on offer, For the ultimate Zoofari, you can stay overnight in an African style Zoofari Lodge, self-contained Savannah Cabins or camp in the bush at Billabong Camp.  

4. Lone Pine Sanctuary, Brisbane, Queensland

Cost of entry: $42 general admission, discounts for children, students, seniors and families.

https://koala.net/

If you want to hug a koala you can do so legally in Queensland, so the Lone Pine Sanctuary is the place for you if you love koalas. It’s illegal to hold koalas in Australia except in the states of Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia, so this Brisbane sanctuary is a super popular destination for those wanting to cuddle a koala.  

As the oldest and largest sanctuary in Australia it is home to 130 furry friends. After the recent bush fires this summer, the sanctuary is an even more important refuge for them to live safely. As you would expect the sanctuary is also very involved in research to save these iconic marsupials. 

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The sanctuary is home to over 70 species of Australian wildlife. Not only can you meet a koala, but you can see kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, platypuses, tasmanian devils, dingoes, echidnas, snakes, crocodiles and a great variety of exotic native birds. 

5. Phillip Island Nature Park

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Cost of entry: $26.60 for general viewing admission, however this can be upgraded for other adventures or more parks.

https://www.piwildlifepark.com.au/

https://www.penguins.org.au/

Philip Island Nature Park has 4 Parks. The star of the parks is the natural spectacle of the world’s smallest penguins arriving home at sunset each evening at the world-famous Penguin Parade. The nightly parade can be viewed from the beachfront viewing stands where you can watch them emerge from the ocean and waddle up the beach to their burrows. An app is also available for more images and from webcams set around the park. If you plan your visit during breeding time in the winter months from May to August, you may see their babies come out of the burrows to feed on the parents catch of the day.

Stroll through eucalypt woodland in the Koala Reserves unique tree top boardwalks which enable you to get a close to koalas in their natural habitat. Visitors have an opportunity to experience a ranger led ‘Koala Eco Explorer’ which includes learning about the role the center has played in protecting Phillip islands koalas.

Along the woodland trail you may come across many visiting animals including wallabies, echidna, snakes, possums and over 35 different species of birds as well as amazing views of a beautiful natural wetland area.

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Feel the freeze in the Antarctic Chill Zone in the hands-on-fun interactive journey. Immerse yourself in a multimedia experience which surrounds you with creatures from the deep like wales, sharks and more. You can even find yourself patting a penguin or stroking a seal. 

Take a step back in time and explore the heritage and tranquil scenery at Churchill Island Heritage Farm, a historic working farm with Clydesdale horses, Highland cattle and an animal nursery. There are hands-on farming activities including cow milking sheep shearing, working dog demonstrations and whip cracking. 

6. Adelaide Zoo

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Cost of entry: $37 for general admission, discounts for children, concession tickets and family passes

https://www.adelaidezoo.com.au/.

Named as The Major Tourist Attraction of the Year at 2019, South Australian Tourism Awards and claiming the award for the third year and winning a place in the Hall of Fame a visit to Adelaide Zoo is a wonderful day out for families of all ages. Situated within 15 minutes’ walk of the City of Adelaide the zoo spans over 8 hectares and located alongside the beautiful Botanic Park and gardens.

Pandas Wang Wang and Fu Ni are Australia’s only giant pandas and they and their enclosures are the centerpiece of the zoo. This five-star enclosure is a carefully recreated Chinese landscape which can hold up to 500 people at one time.

For more than a hundred years, visitors from all over Australia and the world have experienced the wonder of wildlife at Adelaide Zoo. Around 2500 exotic and native mammals, birds, fish and reptiles connect people with nature in an innovative, educational and memorable experience.

At Adelaide Zoo you will see crowd favourites such as hippos, lions, tigers, giraffes, meerkats and monkeys just to name a few.  There are lots of bird exhibits and a walk-through Avery, a nocturnal section, a children’s petting zoo and more.

It is worthwhile to consider a two-day visit to include a visit to Monarto Zoo. It is the largest open-range zoo in Australia, designed to let larger, grazing animals roam as if in their natural environment and is world-renowned for its breeding programs of rare and endangered animals.

7. Taronga Zoo, Sydney

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Cost of entry: $49 general admission. Buy tickets online an save 10% 

Located in Mosman the Taronga Zoo is the top attraction in Sydney and one of the most famous wildlife parks in the Australian continent. Taronga Zoo is known as for the spectacular view of the city skyline and the wow factor for the giraffes and other animals having this as the backdrop to the environment, they live in.  The Zoo is as famous for the spectacular photo opportunity of the long necks of the giraffes merging with the city skyline than the animals themselves.

A quick ferry ride from Circular Quay to Taronga Zoo, then a cable car ride over the monkey trail to the entrance is worth taking. One of the wild experiences it offers is a jungle themed Tiger Trek where you can get up close with the critically endangered Sumatran Tiger.

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The zoo also offers a wide variety of other discoveries including, the Elephant Trail, Serpentarium, Exploring Australian fauna and their vision is to secure conservation of species. One of the best experiences is the Roar & Snore sleepover that allows visitors to see nocturnal animals at their busiest and stay over at the zoo in its glamping facilities.  

8. Werribee Open Range Zoo

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Cost of entry: $38 general admission, discounts for children, seniors and concession.

https://www.zoo.org.au/werribee/

Werribee Open Range Zoo gives you the feeling of a true African adventure. These animals from Africa live on 225 hectares of wide, open savannah.  Amidst natural surroundings you can spot giraffes, gorillas, zebras, lions, rhinos, monkeys and more. 

Off-road Safaris ($50 for an adult) in an are available for those who want to get in the enclosures and close to the animals. You can spot zebras, rhinos, giraffes and antelopes grazing together. From the open vehicle, there are lions, cheetahs to see plus one of the world’s largest gorilla enclosures and more. On the African River Walking Trail, you can meet a pride of lions, see monkeys at play, watch hippos at the Hippo Beach, come face to face with gorillas or watch cheetahs prowl. One of the meet the animal’s tours includes meeting an African Cat, where you can also hold the African Cats.

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The Sunset Safari ($109 for an adult) offers a 3-hour program which includes an evening dinner, safari and entertainment then if you fancy an overnight stay the Slumber Safari ($335 for an adult) offers a glamping experience.

9. Sydney Zoo, Sydney

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Cost of entry: $46 with discounts if bought online

https://sydneyzoo.com

This newly open all-in-one zoo is set to make headlines as its vision is to connect people and animals to a secure and sustainable future. Animals from Africa, Asia, Australia feature as well as their primate boulevard and an aquarium.

The purpose-built facility is thought to be one of the world’s most technologically sophisticated wildlife zoos featuring the largest reptile and nocturnal animal habitat in Australia as well as cutting edge enclosures for a diverse range of fauna.

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With more than 2,000 animals, including cheetahs, lion, hyenas, apes and baboons including native animals all in an integrated Aboriginal cultural precinct. 

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Featuring one of Australia’s last circus elephants Saigon is around 62 years old and arrived in Australia when she was 3-5 years old. She was in the Perry Bros Circus until 2010 when she retired to the family farm until she came to the purpose-built habitat at Sydney Zoo.

10. Hunter Valley Zoo, Nulkarba

CHEETAHS: Aibu and Jabari are new arrivals at the Hunter Valley Zoo. Picture: Simone De Peak

Cost of entry: $29 for general admission. Discounts for concession, children and groups.

Located in the heart of Australia’s most loved wine regions, the Hunter Valley Zoo is a small country zoo out in the bushland of Nulkaba, and close to the Polkolbin wine growing area. Hunter Valley Zoo is small but there is a wide variety of animals including monkeys, American Alligators, Tasmanian Devils, koalas, dingoes, kangaroos, reptiles, tapir and native birds. 

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In 2016 Hunter Valley Zoo has welcomed two white lions, Kovu and Nala into its family from Darlins Downs Zoo in Queens land. The owner of the zoo, Jason Pearson has put a lot of work into preparing the lions for public display. Cheetahs Aiba and Jabari are also two residents who arrived in 2017 from a zoo in Europe. 

A favourite activity when you visit the Meerkats Hunter Valley Zoo is to upgrade the experience treat yourself to enter the meerkat enclosure as shown in the video below. 

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