Inna and I love animals. The high point of all of our travels have been the animals we’ve seen. We do not, however, go to zoos, because it is much more exciting to see animals in the wild than in a cage/pen/whatever.
That being said, there was no way we were going to visit Australia and not see a kangaroo or koala. And because we aren’t visiting too many non-city destinations in Australia, we knew the odds of us seeing these animals were low. Thankfully, Sydney had the solution, something even better than a zoo: Featherdale Wildlife Park.
Featherdale specializes in Australian plants and animals, and for the most part only features animals from Australia and Tasmania. Featherdale also emphasizes education in their park, and they have several talks and presentations about their animals every day.
But Featherdale’s best features are its wallaby and kangaroo exhibits; to see why, check out below.
They let us feed them! And pet them and walk with them. All unsupervised too. Amazing!
The kangaroos liked ice cream cones a lot more than their actual food…
Not everyone was as good at feeding the kangaroos as Inna and I were. Also, babies!
Pretty sure this kid is in mom’s pouch upside down. He seems comfortable though.
We also got to pet koalas, but only sleeping ones and only under supervision. Koalas are not friendly like kangaroos and wallabies.
Are baby koalas the cutest animals in the world? They just may be.
We started with mammals, so lets keep going. Here is a wombat; all he did was sleep.
This is a Tasmanian Devil, so named because he comes from Tasmania and has red ears and Devil shaped teeth. I asked one of the employees how they prevent this guy from spinning really fast and breaking out of his pen, but she didn’t seem to get my joke.
Speaking of breaking out of pens… these are dingos, wild dogs that are not only super cute, they are also smart, way smarter than even the smartest domesticated dog. Dingos are smart (and dexterous) enough to turn door handles, and they can also recognize and remember patterns. Like how during feeding time, one employee would always enter the pen, turn around, bend down, drop the bucket of food she was carrying, and close the door. The dingos learned this and one time, as soon as the employee turned around and bent down, they vaulted off her back, out of their pen and into the park. Thankfully, they were friendly with the guests and now employees are required to use a different routine every time they interact with these animals.
This funny looking animal is an echidna, or as Inna and I like to call them, enchiladas. This animal is probably most famous as one of only two mammals (along with aardvarks) that lay eggs, and also for Knuckles, Sonic’s sidekick in Sonic the Hedgehog (there are no hedgehogs in Australia, although we did see one in New Zealand).
There may be only two mammals that lay eggs, but there is only one that can fly. These of course are bats, which exist in Australia and were therefore at Featherdale.
These animals were in Featherdale’s farm section, which for the goats and sheep also served as a petting zoo.
Moving on from mammals, Featherdale’s bird collection was spectacular.
These are kookaburras, Australia’s most iconic bird. As the song goes: “Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree; Merry, merry king of the bush is he; Laugh, Kookaburra! Laugh, Kookaburra!; Gay your life must be…”
Emus are Australia’s largest birds. They are flightless and are actually the second tallest birds in the world, after ostriches, of which they are related.
Australia’s next largest bird, Cassowaries, are the third tallest birds in the world. These birds are also flightless and they look more like dinosaurs than birds to me.
This funny looking creature is a Spoonbill. We actually saw one of these in Cairns; it was walking along the coast using its beak to search for food the same way metal detectors are used to search for buried treasure. It was hilarious.
This beauty is a Peregrine Falcon, the fastest animal in the world. When dive bombing prey, these birds can exceed 200mph! Also, when I was in elementary school, one of my teachers gave my class the World Wildlife Federation list of endangered and threatened species, then had us pick an animal and do a report on it. I have no idea why, but this was the animal I chose (I remember incorrectly calling it a ‘Persian Falcon’). Twenty-some years later these birds are no longer endangered and I get to see one in person!
Here is another beautiful bird of prey, this one also the symbol of the United States, a bald eagle. I’m not sure why this bird is here, since as far as I know, it is only native to North America.
Another intense bird of prey. Look at that wingspan! Look at that face!
These birds, Black-Necked Storks, are the only breed of stork native to Australia. Male and female black storks look identical except for their eyes; females have yellow irises while male irises are brown.
Penguins! So cute, and much friendlier than the ones we saw in Argentina. We saw even more of these little guys in Melbourne.
Here are some of Featherdale’s parrots, cockatoos, and macaws. In Costa Rica, we saw a half dozen macaws (pictured lower left) swooping through the sky; it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.
And here are two of Featherdale’s owls. Left is an Eastern Grass Owl, and right is a Powerful Owl. Sure beats the owl we saw in the United States (actually it doesn’t; we got to see the owl in the US fly. Only the pictures of these owls are better).
We gotta move on, so here are the rest of my favorite bird photos. Starting from the upper left and going clockwise, these are: some weird looking bird whose name I don’t know, a brolga, two more birds whose name I don’t know, a ugly and mean turkey, several pelicans, and one of the cutest little ducks I’ve ever seen.
This little guy, an Ibis, was not part of Featherdale, but these birds are so common in Australia, they were everywhere, including outside the cages here. Hence the sign pictured right.
Alright, enough birds, although there are many more pictures I could show. Up next, lets check out Featherdale’s reptile collection!
We’ve tried so many times to see crocodiles in the wild, in Costa Rica, Cairns, and Bali. We still haven’t see one but here’s one at Featherdale. He never moved our entire visit.
Snakes! Specifically (clockwise from upper left) a Centralian Python (I think), Woma Python, and King Brown Snake. I would love to see these guys in the wild, but only from very far away.
This is a Mertens’ Water Monitor. He was pacing back and in his glass cage when we walked by, which is how we got this photo.
Here are our final reptile photographs, clockwise from upper left: a goanna (I think), a Blue Tongue Lizard (who unfortunately never stuck his tongue out), an Eastern Bearded Dragon, and I don’t know the name of the last one.
Featherdale only features vertebrate land animals, which in addition to mammals, birds, and reptiles, also includes amphibians. There are four types of amphibians: frogs, toads, salamanders, and gymnophionas, of which Featherdale had one (see below).
A frog, funny looking and not as amazing as the frogs in Costa Rica, but still cool in its own right.
Alright, this brings us to the end of our Featherdale visit; it truly was an awesome place and if you ever come to Australia I highly recommend you go. Now, before we move onto our next post, I know what you want: more wallabies, kangaroos, and koalas!
With that, we’ve reached the end of this post. Up next, we visited one of Australia’s best friends (best friends like the US and Canada): New Zealand!