A family-friendly zoo where you really can talk to the animals.
Wild World is a family-owned and run zoo that has been open since 1980. The Freeman family originally started it as a bird park, but gradually added other animals and the seven hectare site now has a wonderful collection of indigenous and imported creatures. It is also known in the area as a sanctuary for injured, sick or orphaned animals.
Visitors can wander through the zoo independently if they wish but there are also guides on hand who can tell them the ins and outs of the "residents".
There is no doubt that the koala is the favourite marsupial in the zoo. Wild World introduced koalas into the tropical region nearby. Destruction to their mountain habitat behind Cairns caused their numbers to diminish but the cuddly little darlings are now happily breeding again in the area and can be seen in the zoo.
Several wombats can also be seen all over the park. These animals love to sleep but are very happy to meet the public, particularly one named Miss Piggy, who loves to be photographed.
The zoo also features a kangaroo paddock, where over 50 tame eastern grey kangaroos, antelopine wallaroos, pademelons, rufus and agile wallabies plus the only pair of pure white kangaroos in Queensland live and play.
Bags of grain for handfeeding these animals are available for $1 and can be bought at the paddock. Proceeds go to the zoo's Wildlife Care and Rehabilitation Program.
The predominantly nomadic dingo is represented at the zoo as well, with a very friendly couple of the animals who come out quite often.
On top of all this, Australia's wide variety of birdlife is wonderfully on show at Wild World, with more than 70 species living there. There are elegant but endangered cassowaries, plus emus, talkative sulphur-crested cockatoos, corellas, brolgas, budgerigars, finches, countless parrots and rosellas, kookaburras, bowerbirds, lorikeets and kingfishers.
The zoo's crocodile show is one thing not to be missed these creatures spend most of their time submerged and it's interesting to hear about the self-preservation aids nature has provided them. Sarge, who is five metres long, is a long-time resident of the zoo and is believed to be around 75 years old. There are also a few alligators living there so visitors can see the difference between the two. For those who wish to learn more about these ancient creatures, there are two educational shows every day where you will see the crocs fed and hear how little they have changed in 65 million years!
The snakehouse is behind glass walls so visitors can safely see the snakes, geckos and other reptiles which reside there. There are 25 kinds of snakes and several of each species. Monty, for example, is a five metre reticulated python weighing in at 72kg.
And for something rather different, the zoo also has several of the infamous cane toads in residence. The cane toad has thrived in Australia and is regarded as a pest in many areas. Ironically they were introduced from South America to eradicate the cane beetle, an insect which had been responsible for severely damaging sugar crops. But as the toads can only hop, they were never going to reach the flying beetles and thus the species thrived.
And as a bit of extra entertainment for visitors, there are regular toad races held at the zoo. The zoo is careful however that none of the creatures are harmed in these events. They stress that all Wild World residents are treated with care and respect.
The zoo has some night entertainment as well. At 7pm you can meet zoo staff at the entrance and enjoy a drink and barbecue dinner with them. Then everyone is provided with a torch and is guided to meet the creatures after dark. After the walk, you can enjoy a billy tea and damper and join in with the bush musician who plays some old Australian favourites.