San Diego Zoo Safari Park is going down under with its new Walkabout Australia habitat, due to open to the public on 25 May.
Walkabout Australia is a 1.5-hectare habitat with areas of grassland, wetlands, rainforest and desert. The $17.4m attraction will host a wide range of animals including gray kangaroos, red-necked wallabies, brush turkeys, double-wattled cassowaries, Matschie’s tree kangaroos, kookaburras, red-breasted cockatoos, echidnas, sugar gliders and wombats.
The exhibit’s aim is to provide visitors with an immersive experience. A pathway with no barriers leads visitors through an expansive meadow, where western gray kangaroos, red-necked wallabies and brush turkeys roam. Visitors are asked to stay on the walkway however the animals are welcome to get close to visitors if they wish.
The Aussie Animal Station also provides opportunities for visitors to come nose-to-nose with animals like a wombat, echidna, blue-tongued skink or sugar glider. The animals will be available for up-close encounters several times throughout the day, accompanied by their keepers.
“Australia is an extraordinary place, and we are thrilled to provide a snapshot of some of the wonders from down under at the all-new Walkabout Australia experience at the Safari Park,” said Lisa Peterson, director of San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
“Not only does Walkabout Australia allow us to connect people to Australia’s fascinating wildlife, but it adds another dimension to San Diego Zoo Global’s efforts to save endangered species, such as the cassowary and Matschie’s tree kangaroo.”
Walkabout Australia explores the vital connection between water and the animals and people that depend on it. A stream runs through the grassland area, pooling in a pond. Its source is a larger wetland pond, where visitors will see waterfowl like radjah shelducks, freckled ducks and magpie geese. There is also a children’s area that allows kids to take a break and play in shallow water.
The path then leads to the Zuest Station – the central gather place of Walkabout Australia. Visitors can stop to eat and drink and then look around the themed building to learn about the various techniques and traditions of sheep ranching and wool production practised in Australia.
On the way into Zuest Station, and from a floor-to-ceiling glass window inside the building, visitors can view Australia’s rainforest habitat and the Matschie’s tree kangaroo. A bridge from the station leads to giant, rounded rocks similar to the Devil’s Marbles in Australia.
Images: c. San Diego Zoo Safari Park.