Up close and personal experiences where you can learn how conservation sanctuaries work to save endangered native and exotic animals, while teaching visitors about their plight.
TrueBlue Magazine - Aug/Sept 2019
Words: Sarah Hinder
Jamala Wildlife Lodge, Canberra ACT
For an immersive experience that can only be described as an overnight safari, Jamala offers guests the chance to stay in luxury lodges virtually built into the habitat of native and
exotic animals. Choose to stay just inches away from a lion, tiger, cheetah or a Malayan sun bear – with only a glass wall between you. Or reside among the treetops in a Giraffe Treehouse that overlooks Humberkhali the giraffe, known to wander right up to balconies in search of a feed.
Dedicated to conservation, Jamala Wildlife Lodge focuses its efforts on those animals considered vulnerable and critically endangered, including Sumatran tigers and Malayan sun bears. Set up as an addition to Canberra’s National Zoo & Aquarium, Jamala contributes funds to the zoo’s all-important breeding
and conservation programs.
Devils@Cradle, Cradle Mountain Tas
This boutique alpine conservation sanctuary, situated at the edge of the spectacular Cradle Mountain National Park World Heritage Area, specialises in Tasmania’s three largest carnivorous marsupials: the Tasmanian devil, the spotted-tail quoll and the eastern quoll.
Devils@Cradle is a key partner of both the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program and the Tasmanian Quoll Conservation Program, which deliver significant and sustainable in situ conservation outcomes for these beautiful, threatened species.
Visitors to the sanctuary can join a guided tour, which operate both day and night, conducted by a qualified animal keeper. A guided tour will provide an educational understanding of the animal’s lifecycles, behaviours and threats, as well as give visitors insight into the operation of a working conservation facility.
Phillip Island, Vic
Lying just off the south coast of Victoria, Phillip Island is most well-known for its population of more than 20,000 miniature penguins who call the island home. Hundreds of people gather to watch the little penguins ‘parade’ ashore at sunset… each day of the year! It’s a special experience, where every allowance has been made to ensure that humans don’t impede upon the penguins’ natural habitat and behaviour.
The island is home to an impressive diversity of wildlife, including Australia’s largest colony of more than 16,000 fur seals. Visitors can watch them lounging about on the rocky shore from the Nobbies Centre or can head out to sea on a local seal watching cruise.
The 100 square kilometre island is also home to an abundance of first-rate wildlife parks (including Phillip Island Wildlife Park, Koala Conservation Centre, Moonlit Sanctuary, Maru Koala and Animal Park, and Churchill Island Heritage Farm), whose primary aim is to preserve the astounding biodiversity of life that calls this tiny island home.
The Kangaroo Sanctuary, Alice Springs NT
The Northern Territory is bursting with thrilling and unforgettable animal experiences. A standout among them is the Kangaroo Sanctuary in Alice Springs. This rescue centre is dedicated to the rehabilitation and protection of orphaned baby and adult kangaroos. Wonderful for educational and up-close experiences, Chris ‘Brolga’ Barnes, aka Kangaroo Dundee, and his team rescue, rehabilitate and release orphaned baby kangaroos back into the wild. Those kangaroos raised by wildlife carers from infancy which cannot be released inhabit the wilds of the 188-acre refuge. Visitors can explore the sanctuary throughout the year on guided sunset tours led by Brolga and the other wonderful sanctuary tour guides.
Featherdale Wildlife Park, Sydney NSW
In Sydney’s west, this fantastic family-focused wildlife park boasts Australia’s largest collection of native animals. The park is one of the best for children (and adults too) to learn about animals, from cuddly kangaroos and koalas to reptiles and rare species. Choose to explore the park on your own or book an up-close learning encounter with one of the park’s inhabitants.
Behind the scenes, Featherdale runs some fantastic conservation initiatives for endangered native species. A few include the Koala Plantation Fund, which seeks to create a self-sustaining food plantation for its koalas; carrying out research into endangered species, such as eastern quolls and spotted-tailed quolls; and partnering with various other wildlife conservation groups.
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