Ever since she can remember, Bindi Irwin went everywhere with her dad, the late Steve Irwin. She even went with him when he fed crocodiles, and now she is feeding them herself.
Australia Zoo is definitely her favourite place in the world and she was really keen to show the Getaway crew around her backyard. Bindi must be Australia's busiest 11-year-old and is very aware that money made at the 70-hectare zoo goes back into helping wildlife and conservation for future generations to enjoy.
Komodo dragons are the latest attraction and Australia Zoo is the only zoo in the world where you can get up close with one of them, but you'll need to be 15 years of age or older to do so. The largest of the lizard species, the dragons grow to lengths of more than 3m and weigh up to 100kg.
Fat Boy, the dragon, arrived when Steve was filming in Indonesia. Up came the dragon with a fishing hook in his mouth, and even though it was removed, he wasn't very happy and chased Steve up a tree. The boot Steve was wearing is at the zoo and clearly shows a giant slice out of it. It's no wonder komodo dragons are king of their environment.
The state-of-the-art hospital is the largest of its type in the world. It is an extremely important part of the zoo and there are guided tours which allow you to see the team of veterinarians saving precious wildlife. About 6500 patients are hospitalised each year. Sebastian the echidna was a patient when we were filming; his leg had become caught in a pool-skimmer box. Even though he was badly injured, he is well on the way to recovery and will go back into the wild after rehabilitation.
Everyone seems to have a soft spot for these cute little bundles. At Australia Zoo you can touch the rascally red pandas. You can pat and feed them, but people must be at least six years of age to participate.
Their favourite food is bamboo; their strong jaws allow them to really chew into it. They also enjoy berries, blossoms, bird eggs and various plants' small leaves. They are an endangered species, mainly because of habitat loss, and it is thought there are fewer than 2500 adult red pandas in existence.
There are free feeding sessions with Siam, Sabu and Bimbo, the zoo's Asian elephants. They love visitors and you won't believe how much fruit and vegetables they get through!
It's in Bindi and her brother Bob's blood to save and protect animals. Her parents inspired her to be a Wildlife Warrior and she loves all creatures from elephants to ants and everything in between.
It's hard to believe that Steve Irwin died three years ago in September, but it's comforting to know that his family is continuing his work.
Australia Zoo at Beerwah, Queensland, Australia.
Australia Zoo entry is $54 for adults and $32 for children. Tickets for a family of five are $177 and tickets for a family of four are $161.
Komodo encounters are held every day between 8.30am and 8.55am. They cost $400 per couple, including general entry to the zoo and photo package. Please book in advance.
Wildlife Hospital 105-minute tours run four times a day: 9.30am, 11.30am, 1.30pm and 3.30pm. They are $50 or $35 with zoo general admission pass.
Red Panda encounters happen every day at 12.25pm. They cost $60 per person and you will also receive a picture.
Elephant feeding time is for an hour from 11am each day.
Prices correct at July 30, 2009.
For further information
1638 Steve Irwin Way
Ph: (07) 5436 2000
Fax: (07) 5494 8604
Australia Zoo is offering the first 100 Getaway viewers the opportunity to book two days at the zoo for the price of one. Admission for adults costs $54, families cost $161, children are $32 and concessions are $43. Visit www.australiazoo.com.au/getaway to make a purchase tickets. The promotional code is "Bindi".