Meeting the Animals – Adelaide Zoo

(pic - Story) Adelaide Zoo - Title

Well, as I mentioned in my post on the Popeye, one of the things that I did when I was a kid was to go for a cruise around the Torrens Lake (which, as you may remember, is actually an artificial lake) and then get off and go to the zoo. Well, in an effort to relive old times, my brother and I did just that – we got off the Popeye and went to visit the zoo. Mind you, the zoo has changed quite significantly since I was a kid, and I have to admit that I haven’t been there after they did a complete overhaul (which I suspect had something to do with the Pandas that are on loan from China – you simply can’t throw them into any old cage and expect them to mate, particularly since they only get in the mood once a year).

I remember that when I was a kid we used to jump off the Popeye, cross Frome Road, and we would then be standing at the front gates. However they are no longer the front gates, but rather a side gate (which may not even open any more). Instead, you now have to walk around the side into Botanic Park where the new entrance has been built (complete with a gift shop which, from what I could remember, the old zoo lacked, not that I ever buy anything from gift shops – though I did this time because I needed a pen).

(pic - Story) Adelaide Zoo - Old Exit
This is where you used to enter.

Actually, it wasn’t a huge surprise for me because I remember coming here for a function that one of our law firms threw, though we were half expecting it to be in the Panda cage (or at least around the animals) so I was a little disappointed when we simply went upstairs to the function room where there were, well, no animals (and we didn’t even get to go on a night tour). So, fortunately I knew where the new entrance was so I was able to get inside without too much trouble (and there wasn’t a huge line either – but then again it is Adelaide).

(pic - Story) Adelaide Zoo - Sign
They also have a sign in case you get lost

After purchasing our tickets we entered the zoo and the first um, I’m not actually sure what to call it – exhibit and cages doesn’t sound right (though technically they are correct, but I guess I will use the word enclosure as it seems to make the whole idea of locking animals up so people can gawk at them seem a little more palatable – though in some cases this is going to be the only way we can see some animals in the future). Anyway, the first enclosure, which is right next to the entrance, housed the hippopotami (which is Greek for water horse). I have to say that the hippo is one of my favourite animals because as a kid they were always pictured as cute and cuddly animals, that is until I discovered that they are incredibly vicious. Don’t go for a swim in the pool with them, you are unlikely to survive.

(pic - Story) Adelaide Zoo - Hippo
Unfortunately, since they were having a swim, this was the best photo I could get.

 After standing next to the Hippo enclosure, waiting patiently for them to actually get out of the water and wander past us (which didn’t happen), we then went to look for some more animals. However, as we wandered towards the reptiles I discovered something else that had changed with the zoo – the play ground. Okay, a part of me feels that the play equipment of my childhood was somewhat better (and cruder) however some of the play equipment that they come up with these days makes me envious that I am not seven anymore. Okay, I have climbed over play equipment with friends in times past, but with all of the children clambering over it there simply wasn’t enough room for me to enjoy it.

We then arrived at the reptile house (though there was a frog house nearby, but the thing about frogs is that they tend to be really hard to see, let alone photograph). Reptile houses seem to be quite popular, probably because they tend to contain snakes (and crocodiles). In fact they pretty much contain proof that the Australian wildlife is literally out to kill you (though I seem to have survived – in fact I have very rarely seen a snake, and the times that I have seen them they have made a quick exit from my vicinity). Mind you that is not surprising because I believe that we have eight of the top ten most poisonous snakes in the world (including the top two – the Inland Taipan and the King Brown), as well as the Salt Water Crocodile (which the zoo doesn’t have – but trust me they are huge). They do have freshwater crocs (otherwise known as freshies), whose bite is basically no worse than that a dog, but then again if you’ve been bitten by a dog then you probably won’t want to be bitten by a freshie.

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Actually, after looking through the photos I discovered that most of the photos of the snakes that I managed to take weren’t even Australian, but half of the problem is that they tend to hide off in the most awkward of places, making good photos really hard to take. I did try to take a photo of the inland taipan, however it was so far up the back of the enclosure that I couldn’t get a good one (and when it comes to snakes, especially the inland taipan, I am really glad they are in an enclosure).

After leaving the reptile house behind I wandered along to the next building, which happened to be the old elephant enclosure. Unfortunately it seems that the Adelaide zoo no longer has any elephants (I seem to remember there being elephants there when I was younger). This building contained a number animal skins, and some skeletons, which included an elephant skull, and the neck of a giraffe. There were also some pelts of various animals which you could feel (I love petting animals, though unfortunately there are some animals, such as my Mum’s dog, that really don’t like you petting them).

As it turned out the next enclosure was the giraffe enclosure, which is one of those enclosures that I remember as a kid. From what I know the Adelaide Zoo has always had giraffes, and delightfully they are still there. They certainly are magnificent creatures.

(pic - Story) Adelaide Zoo - Giraffe
I wonder if you can ride them?

For some reason a zoo isn’t a zoo unless they have a meerkat enclosure, and sure enough the Adelaide Zoo has one right in front of the giraffes. It seems that meerkats are really popular, probably because they look so cute when they stand on their hind legs and look around. I first discovered the meerkat when I was playing Magic the Gathering (they had a card called the Karoo Meerkat), and I always thought they were some fantasy type creatures, until I discovered them running around the Melbourne Zoo doing what meerkats love to do – stand on their hind legs. As it happened, I took a video of them running around.

The next enclosure we visited was the nocturnal house which, not surprisingly, contains nocturnal creatures. The problem with the nocturnal house is that it is dark (which, once again, is not surprising) and there are notices all over the place telling you not to take photos using flashes (though I guarantee that there are people out there that that believe those notices don’t apply to them). As such I wasn’t able to get any decent photos of the creatures, and despite the fact that they are nocturnal, they all seemed to be asleep anyway (it seems that most animals are like cats – they spend a bulk of their time asleep, but then again I suspect it has something to do with them being in an artificial environment, which means no predators – I guess it doesn’t matter how much the zoologists try to replicate the animal’s natural habit, they are never going to create an exact replication).

As we came out of the nocturnal house we saw that there was a huge crowd of people up ahead, so we decided to go and check it out. Turned out that it was the lion cage, and it was feeding time, which is why the crowds had gathered, so we decided to stay at watch. The Adelaide Zoo has three lions, one male and two females. It turns out that the male is an epileptic, and it had a seizure in front of the females once, who then proceeded to attempt to kill it (and was saved due to the intervention of the zookeepers). They are now kept in separate cages. They actually have more lions at the Monarto Open Range Zoo, but once again they keep them apart so as they don’t breed resulting in more lions than they know what to do with (and you generally can’t release them back into the wild).

Anyway, here is another video:

They actually offer competitions for people to go and feed the lions, however when they say ‘feeding the lions’ they actually mean that you get to dump a heap of meat into a chute that then dumps it into the lion cage. Unfortunately you don’t actually get to walk into the lion cage with the meat and feed it by hand (namely because you are probably going to be on the menu as well).
So, we then said farewell to the lions, and the crowds that had formed around them, and made our way to the other parts of the zoo. Unfortunately many of the animals that we passed were either really far away, or simply hiding in the shade (it wasn’t the coolest of days). However, we did get to glimpse tiger, an orang-outang, a sun bear, and a seal (that happened to be sleeping in the sun as opposed to swimming in the water).
(pic - Story) Adelaide Zoo - Seal
Enjoying the sunshine

Actually, I just discovered that I have been writing all this stuff about the Adelaide Zoo but have yet to post of map of the place. Okay, you may not be able to get of good idea of our travels through this menagerie on the map, but it might help. Anyway, here is one I found on the internet (namely because I wasn’t all that keen on trying to scan the one that is sitting in front of me).

(pic - Story) Adelaide Zoo - Map

Oh, I probably should also include a Google Maps embed so you can find out where it is located (on the off chance you want to come here and attempt to swim with the Hippopotami, though I probably should warn you against such an action – swimming with the Hippopotami that is, not going to the zoo, I would always encourage you to go to a zoo).


I probably should put in a few thoughts on zoos before I continue with my exploration of this place, and that is because there are some groups (PETA) that don’t like them. Okay, while I’ll agree that zoos can’t replicate the natural environment of the animals (namely because they won’t throw predators into the same cages as the animals they prey upon, which means those animals end up sleeping all day because they don’t have to worry about predators) they are much better than they used to be. Originally zoos were pretty shocking, with cement cages with bars that were designed to display the animals. These days the zoologists try their best to replicate the animals’ environment, namely because it is much healthier. However there are some groups (and one of them I suspect is PETA) that believe that keeping an animal in a zoo still amounts to cruelty. However, with so many animals dying out due to hunting and habitat destruction, zoos are one of the very few places where they can be preserved.

As for those who want to work in a zoo all I can say is good luck. The problem is that zoos tend to be government funded establishments and there are only so many of them. If you send your resumes off to the handful of zoos and are knocked back, well, the best job you might be able to get is in a pet store (which isn’t going to pay off your university debt). All I can say is that if you love animals, and want to work with them, then your best bet is to become a vet.

Anyway, here is a photo of an orangatang

(pic - Story) Adelaide Zoo - organutang
He’s looking for a bit of shade

We then made our way down to the petting zoo, and while the petting zoo is mainly for children I have to say that when it comes to animals I am a big kid – I love petting animals, just not those ones that are going to rip into me, such as my Mum’s dog – or a lion, though I have petted a tiger:

(pic - Story) Adelaide Zoo - Me with Tiger
Just in case you don’t believe me.

Mind you that was in Thailand. Unfortunately you can’t go into the tiger cage in the Adelaide Zoo and play with the tigers (they will probably mistake you for lunch).

Anyway, there are two parts to the petting zoo: the farmyard animals and the Australian fauna. One of the funny things about some (not all – remember the snakes) Australian animals is that they are quite friendly. Kangaroos for instance actually don’t mind humans, and there are a number of places where you can go up to them and pet them. Mind you, as I pointed out, and once again will emphasize, this is only the case with some. I’m sure you’ve heard of the story of the boxing kangaroo – well when they kick they hurt – a lot.

As for farm yard animals, they are also pretty friendly, and the petting zoo has a number of animals you can play with, such as sheep, goats, and surprisingly some deer. However, while I could post some photos of the animals, there was a much better show on display while I was there – this one:

Well, after the petting zoo it was getting around that time that I wanted to move on, however there was one last animal that I had to see – the pandas Wei Wei and Funi. I remember when the Adelaide Zoo first got the pandas on loan from China (which is the only way you can get a panda because, well, China basically owns all of the pandas in the world) and there was a huge promotion. However I never got to actually see them, so if I was going to the zoo I had to go and see the Pandas. Anyway, they are attempting to bred them, which can be a bit problematic because pandas are only fertile once a year, and apparently can be very, very picky about who they mate with (which is probably why they are endangered). Mind you, even if they do give birth to another panda the deal they have with China is that any baby pandas are owned by, you guessed it – China.

Actually, I’m going to have to be honest and admit that I guessed at the names, but I’m sure you get the picture. Anyway, the giant pandas weren’t the only animal in the panda enclosure because they happen to have a panda that is much, much cooler than the giant pandas and that is a red panda. Actually I find it rather odd that pandas are considered bears because from what I know pandas eat bamboo and I was always under the impression that bears were carnivorous (or more precisely omnivorous because apparently they have a nasty habit of stealing picnics). The red panda though is apparently a species all of its own and is probably closer to a raccoon than a bear, but then again I’m not a zoologist – if there is any scientific discipline that I would connect myself with and that would be physics.

(pic - Story) Adelaide Zoo - Red Panda


Creative Commons License

Meeting the Animals – Adelaide Zoo by David Alfred Sarkies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.If you wish to use this work commercially please feel free to contact me.
By Greg Hume – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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