An Australian Zoo Experience – Part 2
By Jason Hosler
Here’s part 2 of my Australian Zoo experience. If you haven’t read it yet, here’s part 1.
The Tiger Show
We returned to the Asian area for the tiger show. The small seating area was completely packed but we still saw a great show. The trainers, one with a female tiger (Maneki) and one with a male (Bashii), took the animals through routines that mimicked wild behaviours. They got the tigers to climb a pole (tree), jump off a log for food (hunt), stand on their hind legs (show dominance or fight). Once the show ended, Maneki backed into the water and laid down with its front paws out. Noticing this, the trainer told the remaining crowd that tigers have very sensitive front paws and because of this, don’t like to get them wet.
The whole time, they were educating us about how tigers’ natural habitat is being destroyed and how the animals are being poached for their fur and other body parts for use in traditional medicine. This was a way for the zoo staff to ask for donations that would go directly to efforts in asia to prevent the extinction of these beautiful and very threatened animals. A small shop was set up next to the tiger enclosure where you could purchase photos, plaster tiger paw prints, or even wrist bands with the slogan “Tiger 5-1-1”. This slogan stands for the fact that it takes $5 to save one tiger for one day. Since I wasn’t travelling with much money, I did what I could and bought two wrist bands. Right now they’re serving as a reminder of the amazing time I had at the zoo and also that I have to send one of them home to my sister along with some other things.
After the show, I watched the red pandas wandering about their enclosure taking turns marking different logs, sticks, rocks, and whatever else they could with their scent.
Now it was elephant feeding time! The zoo staff got visitors to line up in one of three lines and instructed us on how to feed the elephants. We were to pick up a piece of fruit from a bucket, walk to a painted square on the ground where the elephant could reach out with its trunk and take the food without being able to do much else, and then move to the back of the line and have another go if we wanted.
At first I fed Siam who is the largest of the zoo’s three asian elephants. She used the tip of her trunk to grasp the cut up banana out of my hand before bringing it to her mouth and eating it. The staff had told us that Bimbo, the smallest and youngest elephant, feeds in a different way so I decided to check it out. Bimbo actually wraps her trunk around your hand to take the food from you. What I didn’t realize at the time, though, was that she also puts a lot more of her trunk in her mouth afterwards. This means that when she takes the food from you, her trunk is already wet with saliva and she gets that all over your hand. Even if I had known this beforehand, I still would have fed her because it was an amazing experience. It was also a lot of fun to watch all the other Bimbo feeders to do exactly as I did afterwards: look at their slobbery hand with a bit of disgust and then wonder where they can wash up.
My last stop at the zoo was at the Steve Irwin tribute statue. It is near the entrance and is a bronze statue depicting the Irwin family. Terri, Bindi, and Bob are in the front holding a small crocodile while Steve stands behind them with his usual “crouched down hands in the air” pose. Their dog ‘Sui’ is sitting behind Bindi staring up at Steve. It is a beautiful tribute and a great spot to end the incredible experience that was the Australia Zoo.
You can see all of the zoo’s animals on Australia Zoo’s website and you can even sign up to sponsor one of them. For my sister’s birthday, I sponsored a red panda named Yoddah in her name.