Okay, it looks like my readership doubled after that last post. I have a feeling I’m not the only one who likes snuggly koalas!
Just to head this one off at the pass and provide more information for anyone planning tourist activities: Taronga Zoo doesn’t actually let you snuggle the koalas. They let you get as close as you like without actually touching them. There are numerous establishments in Queensland which apparently are big on snuggle-koala tourism and will actually let you handle a live koala. Sadly, Em tells me that numerous human infections are communicable to koalas, not the least of which is chlamydia (see this parody from Nerve, but the sad part is it’s true, as you’ll see if you click through). So on balance I understand why they might want to restrict snuggle access to our fuzzy friends and don’t feel cheated. However, for $20 we did get a 5-minute photo op with a koala, during which we got to take as many photos as we wanted, so those will be featured below.
All that said: Taronga Zoo is heavily involved in conservation, not just curation. While their zoo is very thoughtfully laid out and is on par, in my opinion, with the US’s National Zoo in Washington, DC, a substantial fraction of the $50 price of admission goes towards various wildlife conservation projects around Australia. Many of their displays also mention the threatened or endangered status of many kinds of rare animals, and mention specific things we can all do — lifestyle changes, raising awareness in our social groups, etc. — to help save them. Personally I think this is great and would like to encourage them to continue!
Of course the koala encounter was my favorite part, but it was followed on closely by the seal theatre show, simply watching giraffes (amazing), owls, red pandas, small fuzzy marsupials scampering about nearly dark enclosures, echidnas and well okay pretty much everything. Being a birder, of course Emily’s favorite parts were the aviaries, where she saw and heard several regent honeyeaters. It’s probably best just to show a bunch of pictures:
The unexpected comedy gold, shown only briefly in the above spread, was a hungry spoonbill trying to eat the koi swimming around its enclosure. The fish, far too big to fit the bill, were not amused and just wriggled away irritably; in my mind’s ear I could hear WTF dude, srsly just quit it, kthxbye. We’ve got video but I apparently have to pay extra to upload and embed video, so maybe I’ll try that some other time.
In short: I would totally do it again, and indeed I plan to!