How We Found All of Australia’s Bizarre Animals in One Place

Huge thanks to Tourism and Events Queensland for providing this adventure! As always, all opinions are our own.
David hand feeds a kangaroo at Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo! GypsyNester.com

Quick, what’s the first thing that comes to mind about Australia?

Bet it involves animals, and likely some strange ones at that, right?

It was for us, so a trip to The Australia Zoo was an essential element in our tour of Queensland.
Cute little echidna at the Australia Zoo in Queensland

We had barely stepped past the gate when we encountered our first previously unknown creature, an echidna.

At first glance it appeared to be a porcupine, but once we saw that face, we knew that this was a hedgehog of a different color. These odd little anteaters, along with the platypus, are they only mammals left on earth that lay eggs.
Cute little echidna at the Australia Zoo in Queensland! GypsyNester.com

We couldn’t see why, but they take their name from the half-woman/half-snake mother of monsters in Greek mythology.

There seems to be no resemblance to either a woman or a snake, and once the surprise wore off, the little guy was actually kind of cute. He even let us pat his thick, quill-like fur.
David is attacked by a crocodile at Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo in Queensland

Maybe the mother of monsters tag would be better applied to some of the enormous crocodiles the Australia Zoo is famous for, because they are downright scary!

It was The Crocodile Hunter himself, Steve Irwin, that transformed the Beerwah Reptile and Fauna Park that his parents founded in1970 into the world-class attraction that it is today. The traditions, and his memory, are carried on by his widow, Terri Irwin.
A baby crocodile at Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo in Queensland

So crocs are the stars of the show, they even have their own coliseum, The Crocoseum, where five thousand spectators can watch in awe as these prehistoric predators demonstrate their speed and power.

And keep the zookeepers on their toes, one mustn’t let a two ton, twenty-foot mass of muscle and teeth get too close. “Crikey!”
A crocodile at Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo in Queensland

But the zoo’s relationship with crocodiles goes way beyond entertaining the crowds.

They are also a part of International Crocodile Rescue, helping capture and relocate crocs that pose problems when they get too comfortable around civilization.

This is an effort that Irwin was instrumental in from an early age, and was celebrated on his television show, The Crocodile Hunter. The rescue unit also includes a rehabilitation facility for injured animals.
A cute sleeping koala at the Australia Zoo in Queensland! GypsyNester.com

To calm down after the adrenaline charged croc show, we worked our way over to a more peaceful corner of the zoo where several of Australia’s indigenous species are kept.

First up, the koala, talk about peaceful; these little guys sleep about twenty hours a day. We were already familiar with koalas from our visit to the koala sanctuary in Brisbane, so we briefly said hello and continued on.
A Cassowary at the Australia Zoo, Queensland

That brought us to a Cassowary, another animal we had never seen, or even heard of, before.

They are large, flightless birds, only slightly smaller than an ostrich or emu, that look like a small blue-headed dinosaur crossbred with a turkey.

They are also quite shy, so we were told that we were lucky to get as close as we did before they disappeared back into the forest.

Check out this weird guy in action in this ten second video!
A wombat at the Australia Zoo in Queensland

Two more of Australia’s many marsupials were next on our list, wombats and the Tasmanian devil.

Like their more famous cousin the kangaroo, they both have pouches for their young, but wombats have a unique twist. Their pouches face downward — or backwards as the case may be — so that they don’t fill up with dirt when the wombats are digging their burrows.
A Tasmanian devil at the Australia Zoo, Queensland

The Tasmanian Devil and wombats are certainly not buddies. The devils are carnivorous, which is rare for marsupials, and will gladly attack and eat a wombat, or at the very least, steal his burrow.

As mean as they are, we did not witness one spin himself around faster and faster until he became a miniature tornado. Perhaps Bugs Bunny cartoons are not the best source of information about exotic wildlife in the far corners of the globe after all.

Africa in Australia
The Africa Exhibit at the Australia Zoo

As strange and wonderful as all of these indigenous creatures were to our foreign eyes, like any good zoo, Australia Zoo features many non-native animals as well.

Several of these are featured in its African Safari exhibit.
Giraffes and zebras roam the African Safari exhibit at Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo in Queensland

We felt a bit like we were entering Jurassic Park as we passed through the giant stone gates and saw the rhinos, zebras, and giraffes roving across the recreation of the Serengeti.

A highlight of our day came when we got to feed the giraffes.

Standing up on a high platform, we held branches while the giraffes grabbed mouthfuls of leaves.

We had to hold on tight because these long-necked herbivores meant business when they got their teeth into a mouthful of foliage.

Even more surprising were their incredibly long, black tongues.

They seemed to come out of nowhere to lap up whatever food was available, especially carrots.

Feeding giraffes at Australia Zoo, Queensland

Don’t believe us about the tongues? Then watch these ten second videos!

Beautiful cheetah at Australia Zoo, Queensland
Getting ready to pounce!

Getting Catty

On our way out of Africa we got to get as close as we’d ever been to a big cat, the world’s fastest land animal, a cheetah.

A keeper was taking her out for a stroll, and both seemed perfectly calm, at least as long as no zebras came into view.
Tiger cubs playing at the Australia Zoo in Queensland!

So with our big cat curiosity piqued, we headed over to the Tiger Temple.

Built to resemble the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia, it serves as home to Sumatran and Bengal tigers, but the main attraction on our visit were the two tiger cubs romping in the main enclosure.

The (not so) little guys were born at the zoo in August of 2013, a pretty huge event since there are less than five hundred Sumatran tigers left in the wild.

Tiger cubs playing at the Australia Zoo in Queensland!
Say uncle! Say it! Say it!
Tiger cubs playing at the Australia Zoo in Queensland!
Never!
Tiger cubs playing at the Australia Zoo in Queensland!
All tuckered out after the “hunt”

WATCH: See the tiger cubs and all the animals in action!

We’re in Kangaroo Heaven!
David shakes hands with a kangaroo at Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo in Queensland! GypsyNester.com

No trip to Australia, the zoo or otherwise, would be complete without holding court with some kangaroos, and Roo Heaven was the perfect place to do just that.

These guys seemed perfectly comfortable with a human presence in their habitat, so we shook hands and made our case for invading their space.

We hand fed kangaroos and got some great photos of their faces at Australia Zoo in Queensland

When the verdict came down, the jury of jumpers was just fine with us being there.

An adorable kangaroo sleeps in Roo Heaven at Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter's Australia Zoo in Queensland! GypsyNester.com

Helping Sick and Injured Wildlife Get Back Into the Wild
The Australian Animal Hospital in Queensland

Our last stop of the day was a look into the most important work that is done at the Australia Zoo.

As part of the Irwin family’s longtime commitment to conservation, the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital was opened in 2004.

Dedicated to Steve’s mother Lyn Irwin, a pioneer in wildlife care and rehabilitation, the facility cares for several thousand animals every year.
Michelle of Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors, Queensland

A team of dedicated doctors and volunteers work tirelessly to heal the sick and injured, with the ultimate goal of returning them to the wild.

We toured the hospital with Michelle to get an up close look at the incredible care given to the wildlife.

WATCH: Get an inside tour of the hospital and they great work they do!


A rescued koala at Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, Queensland

Koalas make up a big part of the patients, but almost any animal is welcomed and treated.

There are special units designed for reptiles and birds, and outdoor facilities, including a special area for turtles, to help acclimate the rehabilitated for their return to the wild.
Saving a rescued bird at Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, Queensland

During the process, the staff also performs valuable research into wildlife diseases and migration.

The project is funded through the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors.

It is a cause that we are happy to help support in our own small way, and we are glad to spread the word.

Seriously, how could we pass up helping these adorable little koalas?

Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, Queensland

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Delve Deeper:
Visit the Australia Zoo website

Watch us feed crocs!
Bucket list check! We snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef!
Watch us skydive above beautiful Queensland – yikes!
Follow us into the Australian Hinterland
Go for the Gold Coast of Queensland
Let Us Introdoos-ya to Noosa and Spread a Little Sunshine Coast

Huge thanks to Tourism and Events Queensland for providing this adventure! As always, all opinions are our own.

Click here to see all of our adventures in Queensland!


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30 thoughts on “How We Found All of Australia’s Bizarre Animals in One Place”

  1. We saw a lot of these in Australia but no croc. When you saw the Tasmanian Devil was running around like crazy? The one we saw didn’t do a full cartoon move but he ran laps with this eyes wild and bright. We didn’t want to get to know him better! We were told koalas are so dopey because they’re sort of stoned on eucalyptus leaves. Were you told that?

  2. I’ve never heard of an echidna, and I wonder if he knows how cute he is? I might make a cute animal pinterest board just so I can include him on it 🙂

  3. What a fun post to read! Learning about a country’s flora and fauna is exactly the sort of thing I love to do when visiting a new country. I’m particularly taken with the echidna photo which I’d never heard of before (but now I want one for my very own)!

  4. After seeing your photos of the crocodiles, there is no doubt in my mind that they are probably the closest thing to dinosaurs still roaming the earth today. I visited a wildlife preserve in Western Australia, but the Irwin operation seems like the creme de la creme.

  5. We do have some strange animals in Australia don’t we! Not as big as African animals, but stranger – wombats and platypus are two of my favourites, but I am looking forward to cuddling a Koala on a trip I’m doing next week. (Thanks for commenting on my blog ZigaZag yesterday)

  6. Great photos. I especially like the cassowary. Although I have heard of it, I’ve never seen a photo before and had no idea what it looked like. Love the colour blue. Australia Zoo certainly looks worth a visit. It is nice to hear about the animal treatment centre.

  7. We didn’t make it to Queensland when we were in Australia, but we did have an opportunity to get up close and personal with some kangaroos and emus while we were on an all day wine country tour. Turns out, Emus love pastry and we had to guard our closely. 😉 It was a little strange to be tasting emu later in the day at a wonderful luncheon hosted by one of the wineries. My hubby tasted the kangaroo, but I just couldn’t do it. Australia is all kinds of fabulous, would love to go back one day but there is always some play new to explore.

  8. I can’t wait to see an echidna in Australia in a few months! Live the face close ups of the giraffes and kangaroos! Steve Irwin’s work was so innovative. Glad to see his legacy.

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