• Donna Zabel

Sydney: Koalas and Devils

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

photo: Donna Zabel, CC BY 3.0

It’s warm, the sun is shining, and I’m in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The museums, tucked into pockets of the expansive parks I’ve been walking, are closed. The stores with goods that can be found anywhere are not appealing. What would be special to do on this spectacular Monday? Visit a zoo, of course.

photo: Donna Zabel, CC BY 3.0

photo: Donna Zabel, CC BY 3.0

Not any zoo. Taronga Zoo is much more than caged animals. In true Aussie style it is also a sanctuary for endangered animals, with an emphasis on education, how to protect and live in harmony with the continent’s native species. With spacious enclosures and meandering paths, it almost feels like a walk in the wild. The freely roaming ibises and guinea fowl-like birds add their own untamed atmosphere to the zoo.

photo: Donna Zabel, CC BY 3.0

photo: Donna Zabel, CC BY 3.0

photo: Donna Zabel, CC BY 3.0

A highlight for any visitor to Taranga are the world’s most adorable marsupials. The fluffy koalas produced the expected “oohs” and “aahs” from everyone touring their enclosure. With arms stretched around eucalyptus trees and munching on leaves, or just hanging out, they are the definition of a “tree hugger” and as cute in person as in a photo or video.

photo: Donna Zabel, CC BY 3.0

If the koalas live up to their cuteness reputation, Australia’s other famous resident, the Tasmanian Devil, falls short of living up to its ferocious reputation. Actually, a scavenger rather than an aggressor, Tassie is not terribly large, about 13-18 pounds fully grown, and not very intimidating. His long front teeth and strong body is used to hang onto its dinner, not necessary produce one. The Taronga resident was a bit shy, willing to hang out for photos for a short while before retreating to its dark, solitary den. His species has suffered greatly from habitat loss, roadkill, and a horrible deadly cancer that threatens the entire species. Ongoing research at the zoo is aimed at keeping this unique creature thriving in the wilderness, not just in zoos.

photo: Donna Zabel, CC BY 3.0

photo: Donna Zabel, CC BY 3.0

Part of the fun is going to, and returning from, Taronga. We had a ferry from the Circular Quay going over, and later in the afternoon a speedy double hull catamaran took us home. At least home as far as the docks and the nearby Fortune of War pub. After a long, hot day in the sun it was time for a pint, and where better to enjoy than Sydney’s oldest pub, a place we had found the day before while wandering the Rocks? I like to think the bartender was pleased those foreigners returned.


· Catch the ferry to Tauranga Zoo at Circular Quay. The best value is a roundtrip ticket that includes Zoo admission.

· Allow plenty of time and bring lots of water. The sun is fierce.

· Time your visit to catch the free bird show.

#australia #tarongazoo

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