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Canberra Zoo & Aquarium

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The National Zoo & Aquarium has a new attraction — the Walk On The Wildside tour. It took two years of hard work by Anthony Beach to refine the ultimate wildlife experience and now visitors can be close to many of the larger animals and see what is traditionally the domain of the keepers.

Your tour visits a majority of the animals and activities may include playing ball with the cheetahs, sharing a gourmet lunch with a giraffe, weighing a lion, hand-feeding a shark and teaching a brown bear to open its mouth for a dental check-up. Playing games and designing puzzles for the monkeys to solve is a real favourite with visitors to the zoo.

The zoo contributes to a large number of breeding programs aimed at saving animals from extinction. They also have an Adopt An Animal program. Adoption money goes towards an international breeding program for the species you choose.

You can meet, pat and play with a cheetah, the friendliest of the big cats. Of course, there is an experienced keeper with you at all times. Cheetahs are found only in Africa and are the fastest animal on land.

Oriental small-clawed otters are favourites — they are lively and cheeky. If you don a pair of waders you can hop in the water and feed them. The seven males are named Happy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Doc, Sleepy, Dopey and Bashful and are available for adoption.

Bakkar is a 180kg Bengal tiger. He recently moved from the Dubbo Zoo and is very impressive up close.

Berani, Indonesian for 'Brave', is a Sumatran tiger. Now that he is old enough to breed, there is a search for a mate in an effort to contribute to the conservation of this critically endangered sub-species.

Torda was a circus tiger, but seems to much prefer living in her spacious enclosure in her retirement.

Kimba and Millie, the zoo's beautiful African lions, are the proud parents of three healthy cubs. They are Millie's first babies and she is proving to be a wonderful mother. Sabi, Marjan and Delilah are the zoo's other lions.

Astra and Tangiere are Australia's only two tigons — their father is a tiger, their mother a lion and the offspring share many characteristics of each species.

The zoo has two pumas — Cheyenne is male and Cree female. This species has been threatened by the pet and fur trades and habitat loss and awareness of their plight is critical.

Shiva and Bhutan are magnificent snow leopards and as the future of this species is in jeopardy, it is hoped they will breed.

You can also visit the Malayan sun bear, European brown bear and two rare red pandas. Monkeys include capuchin, marmoset, tamarins, colobus and De Brazzas guenon.

At the African Waterhole you;ll see zebra, eland, ostrich and have the chance to hand-feed giraffe brothers Humbekhali and Ketanga.

Your tour visits a majority of the animals and activities may include playing ball with the cheetahs, sharing a gourmet lunch with a giraffe, weighing a lion, hand-feeding a shark and teaching a brown bear to open its mouth for a dental check-up. Playing games and designing puzzles for the monkeys to solve is a real favourite with visitors.

The zoo has barbecue facilities and picnic tables and the coffee shop is open every day. All areas of the park can be accessed by wheelchair, though some places are quite steep.

Location

Australia's capital.

Cost

National Zoo & Aquarium entry is $21.50 for adults, $11.50 for children and $62.50 for a family of two adults and up to three children. Annual passes, group and school rates are available. Open every day except Christmas Day.

A Walk on the Wildside Tour costs $550 per person and is limited to a maximum of two people. Gourmet lunch, morning and afternoon teas and memories that last a life time are included. Bookings are essential and gift certificates are available.

Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.

More information

National Zoo & Aquarium
Scrivener Dam
Yarralumla ACT 2600
Ph: (02) 6287 8400
Fax: (02) 6287 8401
www.nationalzoo.com.au
reception@nationalzoo.com.au

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