If you have visited Taronga Zoo in Sydney, you will definitely want more of it. And what better experience than to see the animals in an environment where they can feel almost like in their own habitats. That's what the Taronga Western Plains zoo in Dubbo offers.
And while you can't see any animals kept in cages like in other zoos, you are still very safe.
And the keepers are safe too.
The predators are usually in enclosures but are set free for feeding.
On their own piece of turf.
Which is quite large and separated by a water ditch from the onlookers and keepers.
And when they have their lunch no one is around.
All the animals go through a learning process. Keepers design activities for them to arouse their curiosity, make them think, get them fit.
Feeding the tiger is a great show.
The keeper puts meat into a barrel with holes big enough to let the tiger get his head through and hangs it at the top of a very tall pole.
The Sumatran tiger walks out from its enclosure, lunges towards the pole, climbs to the top and grabs the meat from the barrel.
He comes down, feeling his way cautiously. Up is fine, down is challenging.
Have you seen a cat get swiftly up a tree and then getting totally scared to come down? The bigger, wild cat is not different.
The tiger eats up the meat and knows there's another piece up there so he makes a second thrust to the pole.
In the wild the tiger is not guaranteed food every day. Hunting can be successful or not. When it is, the animal makes sure he gets his stomach full. And if it killed a bull full means a huge feast. Followed by a long digestion. No more hunting for him for a day or two. Just lying lazy around and looking peacefully at zebras passing by.
The zoo keepers follow a similar pattern. They feed the tiger about 6 kilograms of meat for a couple of days, then once a week, throw him a whole kangaroo carcass. Next day - no food, just digestion. Clever - replicate the conditions in the wild to make the tiger feel at home. Well, almost home...no kangaroos to hunt for in Asia.
Taronga Zoo keepers don't just share stories about their animal tenants. They also discuss about sustainability of the environment and provide some great tips on how to help protect wildlife and their habitats.
For example the Sumatran tiger is endangered by the clearing of the forests which are replaced by unstainable farming.
With such a great day out, you'll be looking forward for your dinner. Dubbo has some very good dining options. Click the image below and let the reviewers at Tripadvisor help you choose.
Galapagos tortoises are the largest of all. About 250 - 300 kg in weight, more than 1 metre long and have a life span of about 150 years or more.
While a female can lay about 90 eggs, they are not easy to breed in captivity. But sometimes it works.
The toddler tortoise above weighed 82 grams when it hatched from its egg. It is now weighing 250 grams. Way to go till it gets to 250 kg. About 20 or 30 years.
The tortoise likes a good pat and scratch on the head.
He sticks his neck out, lifts the head, and stretches out his legs and starts rising.
It takes a good couple of minutes.
Have you ever inflated an air mattress?
Have you seen how the mattress inflates and rises slowly while you pump the air?
That's how the tortoise gets up, as if powered by a concealed hydraulic pump.
Don't miss this open range Australian zoo, it is a great experience to meet the animals and hear stories about them.
Time has come to recharge your batteries and have a good night's sleep. Just like the tortoise in the image below. If you haven't decided where to hit the pillow yet, check out the hotels recommended by other travellers.
Click on the images below to get more information about Taronga Western Plains and how to get there.
Enjoy your short break at Dubbo and its zoo.