Have you always wanted to watch the animals roam free, the way tourists do on African safaris?
Awesome experience, but rather expensive. But you can do it on the cheap.
You don't have to go to Africa you can go to an Australian zoo, the Western Plains Taronga in Dubbo, to see the wildlife and have all the fun.
Right...you can't brag about travelling to Africa.
But you can tell so many stories about large animals, protecting the vulnerable species and conservation of the natural habitats once you've been to Dubbo.
So hop into your car and drive about 400 km north west of Sydney to enjoy a safari-like experience and get up and close to the animals.
Not too close though.
African savannah at Western Plains Taronga
You can walk around in a 6 km loop and watch the animals as they roam almost free. You are not peeking at them through high fences, there are ditches filled with water around their designated microhabitats, so everyone, animals and humans are safe.
The information boards give a short description about each animal. Not a dry, academic explanation but a light hearted one, with stories about the tenants, their babies and the programs they are involved in.
Programs? What programs?
Taronga zoo is involved in breeding programs and learning programs.
To know more grab a leaflet at the entrance and follow the activities of the day.
Zoo keepers feed the animals, demonstrate their skills, tell their stories and answer your questions or ask for feedback and ideas.
Yes, they actually solicit your views on what exciting tasks you would want the animals to perform.
Why? To get some fresh ideas on how to keep them in good shape and spirit. Animals are very similar to humans, they need something to be excited about, something to do and avoid getting bored and something to learn and stimulate their brains.
For example a 1.5 tonnes hippopotamus learnt to open his mouth wide when his keeper raises her hand.
Have a look at the huge, brownish tusks, see the ridges on the roof of its mouth and count its teeth.
You'll learn that it is a dangerous animal which reacts with a fight or flight response when he thinks he is under attack:
Kufara, the black rhino
Before you enter the zoo you can have a snack at the Bakhita cafe.
It is the name of the resident female black rhinoceros born at the Zoo in 2002. She went on to have her own baby daughter, Kufara, after a successful fertilisation program.
We all know that elephants are intelligent.
To see how intelligent visit the Dubbo zoo and don't miss the elephant activity.
The African giant receives its food and plays with one of its 2 keepers while the other one tells more about its husbandry and how important it is to earn the animal's trust.
The trunk is a vital organ for the elephant. It uses it to find food, drink water, feel his way around, shake a tree or two or knock them down, socialize with other animals and sometimes with humans and...wave the onlookers at the zoo.
It is a very sensitive organ and he hates it to be touched.
Unless you earn his trust.
Like the keeper has done.
Then the bonding is strong and he can play around with his human mate.
Hungry now? Click the image below to see where you can have your lunch in Dubbo.
Here are other pages full of great information about Western Plains Taronga zoo and how to get there.