Part 1…An environment of dedication, compassion and love at the Cairns Tropical Zoo…

It’s ironic that one of our favorite wild animals at the Cairns Tropical Zoo was the Dingo, looking familiar to us as a domesticated dog. However, Dingos are wild animals, and many attempts to domesticate them have failed. 

With expectations in check, we met Jasmine, the Mammal Department Supervisor at the Cairns Tropical Zoo on Tuesday morning. When neither of us has visited a zoo in many years, we found ourselves with mouths agape as Jasmine gave us a private tour that will remain a treasured memory for years to come.

Binturongs are closely related to the mongoose and distantly related to skunks and weasels. They have a distinct odor common in both males and females, similar to that of popcorn which is produced when scent marking for territorial rights and mating. This fellow is named Sari. Binturongs are on the endangered species list.

For world travelers, having spent nine months in Africa, having been on safari on many occasions, we had no idea how much pleasure and joy we’d experience seeing wildlife in a confined environment. With our previous lack of zoo experiences in the past 30 years, we had no idea how times have changed in the zoo industry.

The Wildlife Wedding Chapel on the ground of the zoo is a popular venue for weddings. Please click here for details.

Cairns Tropical Zoo depicts the epitome of progression resulting in the nurturing, love, and compassion of the preservation of many species we’d seldom, if ever, see in the wild during our time in Australia, on and off over a period of almost two years. 

The Koala, Phascolarctos cinereus, or, inaccurately, koala bear, is an arboreal herbivorous marsupial native to Australia. It is the only extant representative of the family Phascolarctidae, and its closest living relatives are the wombats.  In most cases, we don’t take photos of the wildlife from behind, but this scene made us smile when we visited the Koala nursery.

Jasmine spent considerable time as the three of us gathered in the Koala Cafe, answering our seemingly endless questions about the zoo, its management, feeding, and care of the vast array of wildlife. 

Check out this Koala face!  Could it be any more adorable?

Afterward, we were all anxious to continue on as she personally escorted us on a tour to see many of the zoo’s precious inhabitants. As a dedicated 10 plus year employee, Jasmine exhibits an enthusiasm one would never expect upon such employment longevity.

This scene took our breath away. This is a mother Koala with her “Joey” which is the name for all marsupial offspring. A Koala Joey is the size of a jelly bean, with no hair, no ears, and is blind at birth. Joeys crawl into the mother’s pouch immediately after birth, staying there until about six months old.

Throughout the tour, we never felt a sense of bored animals confined in small spaces with little to do but sit and watch annoying visitors. Instead, the expertly designed and maintained environments befitting each animal’s natural habitat, created a feeling of openness and freedom, enabling each species to thrive, propagate and live long, healthy lives, enhanced by the constant love and care of the many employees.

The natural bond between moms and their offspring is always precious to observe. Many visitors gathered around this area in awe of the experience.

Such was apparent in Jasmine’s description of each aspect of the zoo, as her eyes twinkled with sheer delight as she introduced us with pride to many of the species from the Komodo Dragons to the wide array of birds in the various aviaries. 

Jasmine, Tom, and Koala mom and Joey, who was named Violet after 10-year, devoted employee Jasmine’s daughter. 

What particularly appeals to us is the fact that the Cairns Tropical Zoo has rescued many wild animals bringing them back to health after severe injuries and illness that would prevent them from safely returning to the wild. Those deemed fit for released is returned to a safe wild environment. 

They were both checking out the action. Koalas eat as much as 1000 eucalyptus leaves per day. 

In addition, the zoo has taken the responsibility to include many endangered species, as well as those that may have been cast aside from private citizens hoping to domesticate an animal such as a Dingo, an animal never intended to be kept as a pet. 

This young Koala ventures away from mom for a moment.

As we often hear, wild animals are just that.  hey aren’t intended to become pets and the cast-offs of irresponsible owners often end up in zoos. Cairns Tropical Zoo welcomes such animals, anxious to provide them with a rich life they so well deserve since most often they cannot be returned to the wild and survive.

Boa Constrictor, safely behind the glass enclosure. There was a Reticulated Boa in the background which was difficult to see in the darkened area.

Much to our delight and good humor, Jasmine explained that oftentimes, a variety of birds and wildfowl including the Pacific Black Duck fly into the zoo’s habitat of other birds deciding on a free meal and “easy ride’’ often staying at their leisure. Nonetheless, these wild birds are fed.

The massive size of numerous Crocodiles in their well secured, but the viewable area is difficult to describe here. Their weight is estimated when it’s impossible to ever get them on a scale. They may weigh upwards of 1000 kg, 2205 pounds. 

The Cairns Tropical Zoo is located only 20 minutes north of Cairns, and 35 minutes south of Port Douglas at Palm Cove on the Captain Cook Highway. With easy free parking and reasonable entrance fees, it’s the perfect venue for both children and adults, tourists, and locals alike. 

It isn’t often we could get quite this close to a Crocodile to have a close-up view of the complex tail and hide.

The wildlife areas are easy to navigate with only a few gradual inclines making it possible for many with limitations to enjoy full access to most areas. For the times of operation, entrance fees, and extensive information about the Cairns Tropical Zoo, please click the links provided.

A smaller female Crocodile sunning with her mouth within close proximity to a larger male.

Tomorrow, we’ll return with Part 2, more photos and information about our visit to the zoo and our many new experiences with the wildlife we’ve never seen in our past worldwide travels.

Like us, Crocs have five digits but, that’s where the similarities end!


Photo from one year ago to July 11, 2014:
The fuzzy green buds on this exquisite orchid were quite a joy to see while on a flower hunt in Madeira. For details, please click here.

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