Dubbo Zoo

We weren’t going to go to the zoo. It was $47 per person it was on the borderline to what we would like to spend.

One of the local shop’s staff members told us we could go to the Zoo and have coffee in the café. Some of the monkeys are on an island that sits out the front of the café. We thought we could do that and get an idea of the zoo.

Once there we decide to go in. Those dam monkeys looked so cute! The area is quite large; the road that runs through the Zoo is 6 km long. If you walk on the roads and through the walking trails as well, it jumps up to 15 km. You can drive your own car around the road or if you are feeling more energetic the Zoo offers bikes and golf carts for you to hire. If you don’t want to hire anything you can bring your own bike or walk. We chose to walk. We had all afternoon and decided to be healthy for a change. We started at the African wild doges. An interesting snippet of information is the males are all related and the females are all related but the males and females are not related to each other. When a female is ready she will leave home and find a new group. They seemed interested in us and kept an eye on us as we walked past their enclosure.

Then it was onto the meerkats. Love them! They have 20 different calls to talk to their family and there will always be at least one meerkat on lookout duty at any given time. They were fun to watch. In the end Adrian almost had to drag me away. So adorable.

We took a look at the back end of the Black Rhino. Why just the back end? That was all we saw of him.  He was more interested in his lunch that entertaining visitors.

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To get back to the trail we had to walk past the meerkats again. Did I tell you I loved them?

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It has been a long time since I have been at a Zoo and even longer for Adrian. It is a Western Plains Zoo, but I was still surprised with how open everything was. It was nice to see the space. It almost made you feel like you are seeing them in the wild. Almost. Several different animals were in the same location as well making it seem more natural.

Although the open spaces make it hard to see some animals as they are so far away. It is a good thing I know how to crop photos.

The Zoo has two baby elephants. One was off playing in a little sand pit and seemed to be having a lot of fun. There was a small crowd watching him play. So Sweet.

The other one was younger and kept very close to its mother. I kept on wanting the mother elephant to move out of the way so I could take that perfect shot but she was very protective.

Like the Rhino the Elephants are a threatened species. The Dubbo Zoo is part of a breading program for both animals. Between 2009 and 2016 the Zoo has welcomed four baby elephants. One such baby is Luk Chai ‘Son.’ When he was born he was the first Asian elephant calf to be born in Australia. He weighed in at 96kg and should reach in excess of 5000kg when he is fully grown. (African Elephants are larger and can weight up to 7000kg.) To get to that way most elephants many spend up to 19 hours a day feeding.

The elephant enclosure has all the mod cons. The barn was designed to take advantage of the natural sunlight. It also has under floor heating so the sand is warm in the winter months. Very impressed. I don’t have that in my house. (The heating under the floor bit I mean.)

You can’t go past the tigers. Such an amazing animal.

I was awing and arring at him but I don’t thing he was over impressed with me though.

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Not long after the tiger we came to the lions. They were so much fun to watch. There were 4 cubs and they were constantly on the move. The mother would play a little with them, then move on, then play a little bit more then move on. They tagged along behind her ready for the next game.

The cubs are all male and were born in November of 2016. It is the second litter from the mother. They sleep up to about 20 hours a day so we were lucky to see the lions so active. Usually they play in the morning and nap in the afternoon. The cubs almost pushed the meerkats of the top of my favourite list. Almost.

We had arrived at midday thinking we would see all of the Zoo in the afternoon but by 4 o’clock we were only halfway around it. We decided we could come back the next day. It is a good thing the ticket is for two consecutive days. You definitely need it if you are walking.

The next day we talked about taking the car in but decided to do the right thing by our body and walk again. (What were we thinking?) We had to go past the meerkats again. Did I tell you I love those fellers?

So cute

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I would have liked to go back to the lions again but that was at the top of the park so we gave it a miss. There was still so much to see.

I cracked up when I read the information board for the Ring-tailed Lemurs. It seems when two males are in competition for the ladies affection they have a battle. Not like most animals where they have a fight.   The Lemurs will face off with each other by rubbing their tails with scent from glands on their wrists. They then curl their smelly tail over their head and flick the sent towards the opponent. The one with the smelliest tail will get the ladies. I don’t know what to say to that. I guess it works for them. The Lemurs were very docile when we were there. They just all sat around with a bored look on their faces. No smelly tail thing happening on this day.

We had more luck with the White-handed Gibbons, as they were very active. They would swing thought the trees then stop and look around before starting to swing again. I did wonder if they were looking out for danger or just looking out at us watching them. They have two islands to call their own and we saw one making his way across the water. Maybe for a bit of privacy.

We managed to catch a talk on the hippos. (There are 10 talks a day on different animals.) It was really interesting and I wished I could have remembered it all but there was so much information given. Overload. What do I remember? We all know they spend most of the time in the water but did you know they have their own sun protection and antiseptic cream. It is a thick red fluid the Hippo oozes from their skin. I don’t know if that is interesting or yucky. The zookeeper talked about the Hippo teeth and he was happy to open his mouth and show off his molars. He gave everyone a smile and was rewarded with some extra lunch. What goes in must come out and a hippo will use their tail like a fan to spread it all about. We were warned not to stand too close if we see his tail state to spin. Good to know.

The Bangladesh people used to train otters to catch fish. There are 13 different species of otters. The smallest ones are the Small-clawed Otters. The zoo has about 6 of them. I think it was about six they were always on the move it was hard to count. Being on the move so much I don’t know how they could be trained.

They are fun to watch. I read the information board to learn the Otters sleep a lot but when they are awake they almost appear to be on fast-forward. That is a good description. They would race to the gate and sit and wait. Then they would race off and jump into the water, out again and them run back to the gate. Why wait at the gate? They are fed 6 times a day. I guess they didn’t want to miss one of those feeds.

It wasn’t until after we had left the zoo and I was looking at all my photos that I realized they didn’t have an aviary. We had seen so many birds as we walked around I guess it didn’t matter. I did realize later being an open plain zoo of course it wouldn’t have cages.

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The zoo offered the favourites as well as some animals I had never seen before.

Like a Bongo, he is a Tragelaphus eurycerus isaaci (antelope to most people.) They are found in the Kenyan highlands and are classified as critically endangered with fewer than 1000 remaining in the wild.

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Or the Przewalski’s Horse, or Tashi as the Mongolians liked to call them. The Tashi features in prehistoric art across Mongolia. Over hunting of the horses means they no longer exist in Mongolia. The horse would have become extinct but luck would have it explorers and scientists moved foals to Europe. The original herd was made up of twelve horses. Now there are about 1000 animals held in over 130 zoos around the world. Dubbo zoo is part of a breeding program. The idea is to one day return the horses to their homeland.

Almost at the end of the tour of the zoo was an Aussie Walkabout. I could imagine how excited tourists would be with the walkabout as you got to go into the enclosure.  You can almost get close enough to take those fantastic photos to make your friends green with envy.

We saw one of the Red-necked Wallaby sitting in the food trough. He was not going to share. He walloped any animal that came near him. They all got the message.

There was another enclosure for the icon of Australia, the Koala! For non Australians the Koala isn’t a bear and no we don’t have drop bears. Drop bears are our little joke on the tourists. The Koala spends most of the time sleeping during the day so we weren’t surprised to find one sleeping and the other one almost asleep as he was eating. Most of my Koala photos have him with his eye closed looking like he is asleep. I was happy to get one with his eyes opened.

The inner enclosure also had some Short-beaked Echidnas and Quokkas, but we didn’t see any quokkas. They are native Western Australia mostly on Rottnest Island. They are supposed to be the happiest animals in the world, as they always seem to be smiling. They are cute but they still don’t knock the meerkat off the top of my favourites list.

The animals aren’t all smiles, soft and cuddly. As we were leaving there was two having an argument, I can only assume over food again. It didn’t last long and no one was hurt but fists did fly.

We finished off with the Galapagos Tortoise, the largest living tortoise in the world. There are only about 20,000 left in the world. Maybe one reason for this is they have very poor eyesight and the male has been found trying to mate with anything resembling a female. Large rocks are often on the receiving end of they romantic intentions. It doesn’t kill the romance as an evening, even if it is with a rock can last for several hours. When he gets it right the eggs will incubate in a sand nest anywhere from 3 to 6 months, then the hatchlings have to dig their ways out. Digging out can take up to a month.   Like a crocodile the temperature of the nest will determine if the hatchlings are male or female. At the zoo the eggs are collected and incubated. The Galapagos Tortoises are another area where the zoo has a breeding program. It is particularly hard to breed the tortoise but the zoo has had some success. The first hatchlings emerged in 2011 then another two in 2014. The babies are on show, I can’t say they were cute but it was interesting to see how small they are when they are so young to how big they grow. (They have under floor heating as well. I think I am missing out.)

I really enjoyed the zoo. The only criticism is not enough toilet facilities and the only drinking fountains I could find were taps against the toilet wall. Most with out the handle on making them useless. Plus every vending machine we found and there were more vending machine than toilets, had an out of order sign on it. We had taken water but by the end of the day it was all gone. It would have been nice to fill up somewhere.

Like I said I did really enjoy the zoo and I was so pleased we went. Over the two day I had taken just over 800 photos.

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