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During my Australian travels, I noticed that many cities offer zoos and many have wildlife sanctuaries. But, what is the difference?
Zoos typically contain animals from around the world, held for showing off to tourists. Normally, I don’t visit zoos. Personally, I always prefer to find animals in the wild in their natural habitats over visiting them in confinement. “I saw a wild tiger on my trip!” Sounds much more impressive than seeing one in a zoo.
Zoos typically purchase or “rent” the animals that live there. In some cases, zoos might lead to excessive breeding or animal capture. This happens because visitors want to see lively animals not old, sleepy ones. Their environments are often artificial simulations of the wild. Animals aren’t always free to roam as they would like. Talking about zoos often leads to discussions of animal rights. I agree fully.
On the other hand, wildlife sanctuaries typically get their animals by housing injured animals. Sanctuaries do not typically breed animals; rather, they take in animals who can no longer live in the wild.
Many sanctuaries are open enclosure. This means that the animals have a natural habitat to wander in rather than an artificial enclosure. Wildlife sanctuaries support the local animals and help ensure they get the best care possible.
Plus, as if you need another reason to skip zoos, Australian animal Sanctuaries typically only house Australian animals! This provides you with an almost guaranteed way of spotting the local wildlife. Still, I would aim to find the animals in the wild but this is a great alternative where that is not possible.
7 Wildlife Sanctuaries to Visit in Australia
- Phillip Island Wildlife Park– Here, you can feed wallabies, kangaroos, and emus. They have large open enclosures and the animals are free to roam. This was one of my favourites that I have visited in my time in Australia.
- Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary- The Healesville Sanctuary is located in the Yarra Valley (Also, a great place for a glass of wine). Here, you are able to listen to keeper talks about the animals.
- Featherdale Wildlife Park In Sydney– Taronga Zoo often makes the top to do lists. But, I would say skip it! Featherdale Wildlife Park has conservation efforts for Australian wildlife. They do offer some animal encounters.
- Devils @ Cradle- In Tasmania, you can find Tasmanian Devil sanctuaries that aim on rebuilding the population. Tasmanian Devils are sadly going extinct in the wild. But through these efforts an alternative population is going to be released into the wild. For more information on other places to see Tasmanian Devils head over here.
- Australia Zoo– A zoo? That doesn’t sound right… Well this zoo is run by Steve Irwin’s family. That is why I’ve decided to include it. It is a bit different than the typical zoo. The Irwin family works very hard to ensure that animal rights are respected.
- Caversham Wildlife Park- Located in Perth, this wildlife park will give you the chance to see Australian Wildlife up close and personal!
- Finally, if you happen to go to Coober Pedy, then you must check out Josephine’s Gallery and Kangaroo Orphanage. This place is run by a couple who takes in orphaned joeys around South Australia. They provide care for them until they are healthy enough to be moved to sanctuaries. Many of their orphans come to them after car accidents or hunting. They work so hard to provide these animals with care. Twice a day, you can see a joey feeding. It is one of the cutest things you’ll ever see.
Where to Hold a Koala
Did you know that in some Australian states it is illegal to hold a koala? That makes it mighty hard to get that typical shot of you with a koala while on your trip. If this is something that is important to you, I would consider visting a sanctuary in one of these states: Queensland, South Australia, or Western Australia. Other states and wildlife sanctuaries might provide an “encounter” where you are able to get close to a koala but not actually hold one.
Unfortunately, zoos aren’t going anywhere any time soon. But, your money is better spent on conservation efforts and animal rehabilitation. Supporting wildlife sanctuaries helps with this.
Have you visited any Australian wildlife sanctuaries? What did you think?
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