Some characters live on long after their death. They touch many peoples lives and they make a difference to the world which is long lasting. One such person died in 2006 yet his memory and work thrives through the Steve Irwin Zoo, or to use its proper name Australia Zoo.
During our lifetime few personalities on television have had the charisma and global appeal to match that of “The Crocodile Hunter”. His crazy and eccentric ways of interacting with nature created shows watched by over 500 million people worldwide in 142 countries. You can still see the shows broadcast today.
The legacy lives on and the branding of the Steve Irwin Zoo is present with his image all around the Australia Zoo. It is even located on a road called “Steve Irwin Way” in Beerwah, around an hour north of Brisbane in Queensland, Australia.
“Crikey” I thought (well not really, I just stole the phrase made famous by The Crocodile Hunter) when I first found out how close the place was to Brisbane. In fact I’ve driven past signs for the place before but never gotten around to visiting the place.
In fact on the drive up I passed the turn off for Bribie Island. I’d been to Bribie in the past and absolutely loved the place, a real heaven on earth spot for me.
Prior to arriving I did some research on the Steve Irwin Zoo via their website. Not only did I find out where to drive to get there it also gave me a plan of action for the day.
Shows at the Steve Irwin Zoo
There are a range of showtimes at the Australia Zoo featuring a range of animals. Not wanting to miss anything I got there around 9:30 in the morning, enough time to find the first show at 10am.
These are the shows I went to see:-
10am Tortoises LIVE
This was feeding time for the giant Aldabra Giant Tortoises (the largest tortoises in the world). Whilst tortoises are often viewed as slow, these giants seemed to move around their enclosure at a fairly reasonable pace.
Our show guide gave us an interesting talk about the species with facts such as:-
- they can live on average to be around 150 years of age
- these types of tortoise can weigh up to 300lbs
- they can go days without food
- you can often tell the difference between a male and female from the shape of their shell
- the shell of a tortoise is higher off the ground than that of a turtle
10:30am Morning Otters LIVE
This was feeding time for the 3 in house otters, two were sisters and the third was introduced to the other two otters a little time ago, but is now the dominant one!
As we actually witnessed, otters can be quite aggressive by nature so they don’t make good pets. Although they do look very cute.
These 3 were being fed and they made a distinct sound, which the zoo keeper told us is the “I’m hungry” sound. However in spite of this they eat often. Apparently they are fed 4-7 times a day.
Interesting facts we learnt included:-
- otters are sociable animals and often live in groups of up to 20
- they breed up to twice a year and can have litters of up to 6
- they are able to hold their breath underwater for 45-60 seconds
- it is currently illegal to breed otters in captivity in Queensland
12:00pm Wildlife Warriors Show
This show took place in what the Steve Irwin Zoo calls their “Crocoseum”! It is a fair size arena which can hold thousands of people.
The show was definitely one of the main highlights with a range of animals on display. A guy from the audience was invited to feed one of the crocs! He was apprehensive at first but then the crowd laughed when out came a little baby crocodile but it was still scary for him.
We then saw a range of trained flying birds, from beautiful parrots to birds of prey.
An interesting exhibition was then made with the help of a girl in the audience. Our guide informed us that the bird had been trained to fly to something it recognised as a code. This so happened to be a $5 note (Australian). So our girl in the crowd held a $5 note in her outstretched hand and the bird flew all the way to her and perched on her arm.
The crowd was very impressed.
Then amused as the bird nicked the $5 note and flew with it back to the zoo keeper!
After a few jokes the zoo keeper then arranged for the bird to fly back with the $5 note and return it to the girl. Very impressive.
Then the main attraction of this show came with the BIG crocodile. This guy was massive and went by the name of Monty.
One of the guides on the display then fed Monty a few chickens to make an entertaining finale to this presentation.
2:15 Tiger cubs
This was probably my favourite presentation of all the ones I attended that day.
The Steve Irwin Zoo has successfully bred tigers and there are now two 6 month old cubs at the zoo. (I’d briefly seen these 2 earlier as some people had paid to go on a private walk and petting session with the tigers!)
The tiger cubs presentation was a lot less structure than the others. It was basically showing us how the zoo keepers build their bonds with the tigers through play.
Each tiger had a designated zoo keeper who held out a long rod with a parasol/similar feature on the end as a kind of tiger toy.
The zoo keepers would then play with the tiger cubs making the tigers often swim and play in a pool.
Not only does this help to build a bond with the tigers when they are still cubs it also helps to establish some discipline. The tigers are told off or disciplined if they play too rough or become too possessive of the toy.
It doesn’t always work though. Back in 2013 the Steve Irwin Zoo hit the news when a playful (grown up) tiger hurt one of the zoo keepers http://news.sky.com/story/1173845/tiger-attacks-keeper-at-steve-irwins-zoo
Adding to the seriousness of the moment we were told about the great work the Steve Irwin Zoo is doing to help preserver tigers. In the last century the global tiger population has dwindled from around 100,000 to 4,000. This is due to a combination of illegal poaching and human encroachment on the natural habitat of the tigers.
We were informed of various ways we could donate to pay for tiger protection. This would include protection through wardens, policing, removal of tiger snares, plus confiscation products imported from the illegal trade of tiger related goods.
There were further shows but I wanted to see the rest of the Steve Irwin Zoo before I left.
Other attractions in the Steve Irwin Zoo
At first I felt that the Steve Irwin Zoo was very focused on reptiles, with such high promotion of crocodiles and alligators. However there was much more to see.
Amongst the many animals I saw there were of course koalas (you can arrange to cuddle a koala here if you like). Snakes and lizards (also available for photos).
A little park area was available to walk through called Roo Heaven which had lots of kangaroos which you could feed.
There was also a section for red kangaroos, wombats, birds of prey, iguanas.
I visited the Australian Snakes section which not only had some of the most venomous snakes in the world but also the most deadly of all snakes, the Fierce Snake. One bite from this snake can kill 100 hundred men!
I also saw camels (camel rides could be booked), red pandas, zebras, rhinos and my brides favourites, Giraffes!!!
Overall the Steve Irwin Zoo struck me as a very spacious zoo, reasonable allocations of space for all the animals. Also with Steve Irwin’s philosophy of trying to protect all animals, the work particularly with tigers is very important.