Kicking things off with my commitment to exploring Perth, I have started with somewhere common; somewhere most visitors go to when they visit a new city – the zoo.
Having a zoo right in the middle of a suburban area seemed odd to me. I’ve always pictured zoos to be located somewhere in the mountains or jungles where you have to drive for hours to reach your destination – to me that seemed more logical because the mountains or the jungles are closer to home for the animals. Plus, the drive there is always an adventure in itself, specially when you are just sitting in the car enjoying and taking in the sights.
But now that I am the one doing the driving, I am very much thankful that Perth Zoo is so close to home that it’s a mere 15-20 minute drive without any traffic jam and is fairly easy to find. From the freeway just take 2-3 turns and you’re there. Located in, what some would say, a posh suburb that is South Perth, the zoo is just big enough that you won’t feel too overwhelmed and tired after a day spent there.
Bright and early on one Sunday during school holidays, I rounded up my troop and we arrived at the zoo just after 9am (opening hours: 9am to 5pm, every day of the year). The zoo was still fairly empty on this fine winter morning with no more than 20 families roaming around. For an additional $1 you get a zoo map which you can then give to the kids so they learn how to read maps and navigate. For the most part we did stay on track but with the occassional arguments about going right or left and heading up or down. I was more pre-occupied with snapping photos so I just went with wherever everyone’s going.
The zoo is divided into 4 main sections wherein animals from the same region are housed together. The African Savannah houses the ferocious lions and tigers; Asian Rainforest the playful primates; South American jungle the singing birds; and Australian Bushwalk the koalas and the kangaroos. These are just some of the animals that are in the zoo and I could give you a long list of the other ones but it would just be easier for you and me if you visit Perth Zoo’s website for a complete list. After all, they know more about animals than me and they can give you the correct names whereas I would probably just give you a description.
But what I can tell you is that being in the zoo brings out the kid in me. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a hardcore animal lover -the most animal loving thing I’ve ever done is cuddling other people’s dogs. There’s something about zoos, though, that excites and interests me. It’s probably because I get to see animals that don’t just randomly appear in the streets and you get to observe them knowing you’re at a safe distance. Actually, it does not just bring out the kid in me. It brings out the kid in everyone. No matter which way you look you will see both the young and the old all getting giddy about spotting an animal.
The only places in the zoo I’d try to avoid whenever possible are the indoor exhibits for nocturnals and reptiles. The nocturnal animals in the likes of bats and some sort of rats always give me an eerie feeling whenever I look at them. The red beam light also made it all the more difficult for me to appreciate them. I walked out feeling light headed and lost in space. As for the reptiles, well, they are not as eerie as the nocturnals but they do give me the goosebumps, specially that humongous python that was curled up into a ball at the corner of its housing. Mind you, though, that the kids absolutely loved those bats and snakes and spiders that I didn’t. What’s gross for me is fascinating for them.
The highlights of my day at the zoo included seeing the beautiful red panda and pelicans. Also there to make my day even better was the cheeky baby orangutan who was scarily almost exactly like a human toddler. It was really breath-taking to observe how human-like it is. For a good half an hour it played with a crate climbing on top of it and then falling over and then climbing again and falling over again. When it got tired it curled up beside its sleeping mother under a “blanket” that made everyone watching go naaaaw. That was such a heart-warming sight to see.
Towards the end of our adventure, we walked past this super cute kangaroo, who was sleeping in a very quirky position. I almost laughed out loud at the sight of this because, by nature, the kangaroo’s legs really can’t touch the ground when it’s lying on its back. This is how relaxed I want to be when I’m sleeping.
Perth Zoo is definitely a fun place to be for everyone. Whether you’re bringing the whole family or going alone there sure are activities for everyone to enjoy. The zoo also has a big picnic area where you can bring in your own food and have a barbie. If nature is not your thing then there are cafes around as well. For me, though, the $5 hotdog with onions on a bun was enough to keep me going for the rest of the day.
*more photos on Flickr