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Billabong Zoo Billabong Zoo and Wildlife Park review

Discussion in 'Australia' started by Rough, 20 Jul 2016.

  1. Rough

    Rough Well-Known Member

    22 Jun 2012
    New South Wales
    Billabong Zoo Review.

    I was in Port Macquarie for a few days last week and decided to spend the day at the Billabong Zoo, I have visited this zoo around 6 times in the last 10 years, mostly to see the changes. There isn’t much in the way of background on the park on ZooChat so I will give a rather detailed review.

    The zoo is rather easy to find, there is loads of signage around the area giving general directions, my only suggestion would be a larger sign at the actual entrance road. The car park is very large and well suited to a zoo this size, I arrived at 9am just on opening so there was around 5 people in front of me. The price for admission is around $29 for an adult, very reasonable in my opinion.

    Admissions staff were very approachable and likable, and didn’t rush the visitors in. I was keen on a snow leopard encounter so I booked one for the 4pm time slot while I got my entry ticket (encounter is $50).
    You enter the zoo through the main building there is a café with great coffee and a good selection or pre-made and cooked to your liking food.
    The map is very easy to follow.

    The Zoo:
    The first exhibit you encounter is the Spider Monkeys, these guys have been here for many years and the exhibit still fits its purpose and the animals seem very content in it, The monkeys are very active and photogenic.

    The next exhibit belongs to “Shrek” a very large saltwater crocodile, it features both above ground viewing and below water viewing, a very well designed and laid out exhibit. There is a secondary exhibit off to one side but I am unsure of its purpose, maybe as a holding area in the event of pool maintenance or exhibit cleaning, all in all a fantastic exhibit and very well designed.

    A short walk down the path and you reach the reptile house, I have always been a fan of this building as the enclosures are well thought out and has an easy flow, it houses a number of reptiles including venomous snakes, pythons and croc's.

    You leave the reptile house and walk along a pathway and the next enclosure is the cassowary’s on the left. This is perhaps one of the oldest enclosures in the park, its fences are getting a bit old and its not very keeper or animal management friendly however does provide the BEST photo opportunities and close encounters with the birds. An enclosure that suits its purpose.

    Sitting next to the cassowary’s is the Quoll exhibits, there it two side by side, they are visually stunning and excellent exhibits, I think the plant life could be thinned and the front stand of barrier removed just for ease of viewing, try as I might I didn’t see any of the Quoll.

    Directly across the path from the Quoll's is the Wedge Tail Eagles, This exhibit must be an original, if I ever had anything bad to say it would be about this enclosure, it is very outdated and falling apart, however I do believe they are constructing a newer and more expansive enclosure so all is forgiven if this is the case.

    Not far up the path away from the Quoll's and eagles is the world class wombat exhibit, it’s an excellent mix of visual design and animal management, simple in its structure yet brilliant and impressive to include a tunnel underground.

    Attached to wombats is the Meerkat enclosure with the two geriatric members inside, this enclosure is another world class example of design and functionality, it could easily house 10 – 15 Meerkat’s with no dramas and the viewing areas and access for the public is second to none.
    I would raise a slight issue in that I wish there was a pathway directly from Meerkat's to the Dingo’s, instead of having to walk back down past wombats, it’s a slight flow issue that actually annoyed me the second time I walked around, I notice the keepers cutting through the garden so I think even they recognize the issue.

    Dingo’s is standard chainlink fence design, but the animals come out and interact with the public and for all purposes it’s a standard and well maintained exhibit.

    You follow a path again around a large “Billabong” towards a large bird enclosure housing a Jabiru I believe and a Pelican, both birds looked in excellent condition and were very easy to photograph.
    Next is the obligatory Australian Natives, a few wallabies, and emus, beyond this is some absolutely stunning and well presented aviaries with a bird who amused me greatly named “echo” I believe he is the best bird I have ever encountered for personality.

    Walking through the birds leads you across a bridge with an enormous imposing entry way with the words “Hakuna Matata” emblazoned on it. It was a bench mark for things to come.

    The entry gate into the carnivore section is impressive, you can see the security and thought put into the design of every aspect, nothing seems to be slap dash or an after thought. The first enclosure you come upon is the Cheetahs, it’s a well laid out exhibit with a massive burnt log on a hill in the center, works great for the animals, the stand off barriers are well presented and the exhibit exceptionally maintained, the cheetahs brothers walked the perimeter casually and then laid in the morning sun. Both animals are in excellent condition, the presentation area for talks is well set out, though more seating could be an option.

    The presentation area is the back of the lion enclosure, the zoo doesn’t have any lions yet as they have had a few import issues but nothing that was the zoo’s fault, I spoke to a keeper who was very informative and I can understand the frustrations and reasoning. The enclosure however is going to be a massive hit when the animals finally arrive, it has large glass viewing windows as well as mesh fence observations and great stand off barriers.

    Directly next to the lions is the snow leopard enclosure, this is to the best of my experience in the 100’s of zoos I have visited and seen, and the 10+ snow leopard enclosures I have seen…. This enclosure is the best, the site lines are exceptional, the animas are well adjusted, the landscaping is suitable and the visitor area allows for literally hours of viewing.

    I did take a behind the scenes look in the snow leopard area, it’s very well thought out and I am impressed the park has such excellent safety procedures. I don’t usually discuss of limits areas however I will note the very large second enclosure that houses two other snow leopards with a total of 4 being kept by the zoo.

    I would HIGHLY recommend the snow leopard feeding opportunity its very informative and you get to feed a snow leopard.

    You leave the carnivore section through a small gate into the kangaroos and emu enclosure, this is also an older exhibit and in stark contrast to the modern and sleek carnivore section however it suits its purpose and I would see no reason to upgrade it just yet.

    Leaving this section of the zoo you return to the main park, there is not much in the way of exhibits on the return path however is ample billabongs and seating.

    The final exhibit (or first depending how you look around the zoo) is the Koala breeding area, this section of the park is modern, clean and very well presented, I didn’t stay for a keeper talk however I always love the smell of Koala’s.

    All in all this is one of the best “Small / Medium” wildlife parks in the country, strongly on par (maybe a tad in front) of the Hunter Valley Zoo, but sure is a better value for money and experience then the bigger city zoo’s.

    You could spend at least 4 hours in the zoo, maybe not a whole day unless you have lunch or are with a group, but at under $30 entry it really is a bargain to see such a fantastic zoo on such a close scale.

    PS: Pictures to come when I have a spare moment to upload them from my camera.

    Addition: I did forget to mention they have penguin's and red pandas.
    Last edited: 21 Jul 2016
  2. Astrobird

    Astrobird Well-Known Member

    15 Feb 2013
    your review Sounds great, I'm looking forward to the photos. The smaller zoos in Australia are fast becoming more interesting than the larger government run zoos.
  3. Shirokuma

    Shirokuma Well-Known Member

    1 Sep 2009
    Thank you for this review, it's really interesting. Is a map available anywhere or do you have a picture of one? They don't seem to have one on their website and I haven't been able to find one.
  4. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

    10 Dec 2012
    fijnaart, the netherlands