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Zoos in/around Cairns

Discussion in 'Australia' started by nanoboy, 27 Jun 2011.

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  1. nanoboy

    nanoboy Well-Known Member

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    Hey folks. We are in the preliminary stages of planning a trip to Cairns.

    Which zoos/wildlife parks in the area do you recommend?

    Any of the zoos have animal encounters?

    Cheers.
     
  2. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Administrator Staff Member

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    According to Australia Maps ... there are 7 institutions around the Cairns area.

    Unfortunately I've visited none of them, so can't make any recommendations :(
     
  3. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    I must admit the only collection I've visited there is the Cairns Wildlife Dome which is worth visiting, especially because the ticket (at least in 2008) was valid for a whole five days, and also gave you discounts on other attractions owned by the company. I wrote a review here http://www.zoochat.com/24/cairns-wildlife-dome-2008-a-24441/

    If you want somewhere interesting to stay, even if only for one or two nights, try Cassowary House just out of Kuranda. Its a bed and breakfast that has a resident family of cassowaries that visit their garden every day (well, every day except when I stayed there of course!); and their bird tables attract such desirables as Victoria's riflebirds and spotted catbirds, not to mention the musky rat-kangaroos that fossick for the spilled fruit underneath.
     
  4. nanoboy

    nanoboy Well-Known Member

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    Cheers for the links guys.

    Sim, if there are 7 near Cairns, then I aim to visit at least 3.

    Chlidonias, one of those 3 will be the Cairns Wildlife Dome based on your thread. Unfortunately, we would not be able to stay in the accommodation that you recommended, as we booked a hotel just last night. I hope to do a spotlighting tour to see tree kangaroos though!
     
  5. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    these collections are around Cairns:
    *Cairns Tropical Zoo (Palm Cove) [includes the Night Zoo]
    *Cairns Wildlife Safari Reserve (near Kuranda)
    *Cairns Wildlife Dome (Cairns)
    *Undersea World Aquarium (Cairns)
    *Australian Butterfly Sanctuary (Kuranda)
    *Australian Venom Zoo (Kuranda)
    *Birdworld Kuranda (Kuranda)
    *Kuranda Koala Gardens (Kuranda)
    *Rainforestation Nature Park (just outside Kuranda)
    and there's also Marineland Melanesia on Green Island (off shore)

    I haven't been to the Undersea World Aquarium but both it and the Wildlife Dome are in Cairns itself so are easy for you. The four collections in Kuranda (the Butterfly Sanctuary, Venom Zoo, Birdworld and Koala Gardens) can all be visited in one day because all are within walking distance of each other (there's also an animal rescue place there called Bat Reach which is worth a look - they had a striped possum when I was there); Kuranda is easily accessible from Cairns via a bus or shuttle if you don't have your own transport. The Rainforestation place outside of Kuranda could probably be missed. I *think* Cairns Tropical Zoo and the Wildlife Safari would need your own transport to reach.

    Who are you doing the tree kangaroo trip with? I really recommend Alan's Wildlife Tours, based in Yungaburra (if you have your own transport then that's not far from Cairns). Alan really knows his stuff, he's a great guy, and as well as the Lumholtz's tree kangaroos you'll also see green ringtails and coppery brushtail possums.
    Welcome - Rainforest spotlighting, wildlife, & birdwatching tours | Atherton Tablelands, Queensland, Australia
    There are other outfits based in Cairns such as Wait A While Tours but I've heard they are of varying quality.
     
    Last edited: 28 Jun 2011
  6. nanoboy

    nanoboy Well-Known Member

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    Cheers! I am still diligently doing my zoos research. We may only rent a car for one day to visit zoos that require a car (which, according to what you have said, and what I have read, are Cairns Tropical Zoo, and the Wildlife Safari). The aquarium and Dome sound feasible on a 'rest day', and we could probably do all the Kuranda facilities on the Skyrail and Kuranda Rail tour I suppose.

    Although I was contemplating Alan's tour, the transportation thing threw me off. I haven't made bookings with anyone yet, but I was thinking of Wait A While Tours as they also claim to see Lumholtz's tree kangaroos regularly, as well as the possums you mentioned. Ideally I didn't want to drive at night because we would probably be shattered from doing stuff during the day, so I would be more willing to go with a tour company that provided affordable transport.
     
  7. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    Kuranda is a tiny village so if you take the skyrail up and train down or vice versa, then you should have enough time to fit in all the animal attractions (but visit your favourite ones first in case you run out of time)

    Wait-A-While does pick up and drop off from Cairns but what I heard from someone in the know (mind this was a couple of years ago) is that whilst the company was started by a local naturalist and it was really good, it was later taken over by people who didn't really know their stuff and the sightings of good wildlife declined markedly (and some of the possum species they claim you have the opportunity to see don't even occur in the areas they visit!). I have no idea if that is still the case however.
     
  8. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    I've just been looking through the respective websites, and in terms of the "animal encounter" type thing which you like both Kuranda Koala Gardens and the Tropical Zoo have koala cuddling sessions and the latter also has a walk-through wallaby enclosure. The Tropical Zoo actually looks like a fantastic place and I wish I'd gone when i was up there! I found out the local Sunbus company goes there from Cairns as well.

    This combined ticket option might be helpful as well (from the Kuranda Birdworld site):
     
  9. nanoboy

    nanoboy Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the advice.

    The Skyrail/Kuranda Rail operator offers a wildlife option "ONE WAY SKYRAIL, ONE WAY KURANDA RAILWAY & KURANDA WILDLIFE EXPERIENCE" for $155 with transport, compared to $111 without the wildlife experience, so I guess it works out to be the same $44.

    Yeah my wife and I are white collar, office worker, paper pusher types, so we relish any opportunity to interact with animals. We might probably cuddle a koala at both places. :p

    A shame about the Wait A While Tours. I will have to balance the desire of seeing wildlife with not wanting to drive at night with the aid of GPS after a long day.

    Any advice on whether it's worth doing a Daintree tour if we are already doing this day/night tour?
     
  10. Jarkari

    Jarkari Well-Known Member

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    It's cairns tropical zoo that has the night zoo. A recent article indicates that visitors can also have a cheetah encounter at CWSR these school holidays.
     
  11. Jarkari

    Jarkari Well-Known Member

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    There is also hartleys crocodile adventures in the area and theyhave a pretty cool boat tour. I THINK the public can feed crocodiles there to but don't hold me to that!
     
  12. nanoboy

    nanoboy Well-Known Member

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    Cheers for that Jarkari.

    Hartleys and the Night Zoo look promising. Looks like I might have to set aside 2 full days for zoos.

    Cheetah encounter at the Safari? Hmm.... nothing mentioning that on their website though, especially cost.
     
  13. Jarkari

    Jarkari Well-Known Member

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  14. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    note that I don't have first-hand knowledge of Wait-A-While Tours and the information I was given may not be accurate any more. Its just something to bear in mind.

    personally I would say no. I was extremely disappointed in the Daintree area. And in terms of nocturnal tours there, they are absolute rubbish because they are in areas where there is very little in way of mammals.

    yes you are quite right, my error
     
  15. nanoboy

    nanoboy Well-Known Member

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    Cheers for the link Jarkari. Still no mention of the price, but I will just send them an email to confirm the price, and whether it will still be available when we are there.

    Chlidonias, well that seals it then. Instead of Daintree, I will spend the day in the lagoon or the Dome!
     
  16. nanoboy

    nanoboy Well-Known Member

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    We recently returned from our Cairns trip where we visited:

    * Cairns Tropical Zoo
    * Birdworld Kuranda
    * Australian Butterfly Sanctuary (Kuranda)
    * Kuranda Koala Gardens
    * Cairns Wildlife Dome
    * Wait-a-while Rainforest Tours

    I'll do a short synopsis on my personal experience and opinion - a full species list is probably available on each company's website for those interested. Some select pics are attached.

    Cairns Tropical Zoo
    This was worth renting a car for the visit. The most striking thing was how clean this zoo was: clearly they gave it a good sweep/wash every morning. There was a fair variety of native wildlife, but don't expect to see any big cats, elephants etc. They have some new wildlife encounters which are not advertised on their website yet - the lemurs were a bit shy when we fed them.
    Burmese Python Encounter, ($15)
    Lively Lemurs, ($15)
    Wombat Experience, ($10)
    Join the Bird Trainer, ($30) (owl encounter)
    Feed a Freshie, ($15)
    Iggy the Iguana ($15)
    Meet Murray the Wedgetail Eagle ($15)

    The afternoon feeding tour is free, and I would have gladly paid to do this, as you get to feed the pelicans, kookaburras, boobook owls, and rainbow lorikeets.

    Birdworld Kuranda
    If you love birds, then this is the place for you. If you detest the idea of birds on your shoulder, head, and arms, stay away. The birds are very sociable, especially if you go early in the morning when they are hungry. The highlight for me was the blue and gold macaws. Word of warning: they are quite mischievous and will try to steal anything shiny on your person. The sun conures, eclectus parrots, Indian ringnecks, Alexandrine parrots, rainbow lorikeets, and fig parrots were also quite friendly. The nanday conure probably will be one day soon. The red-tailed black cockatoos, well, probably never.

    Australian Butterfly Sanctuary (Kuranda)
    Without watching a single butterfly, you can walk through the entire sanctuary in under a minute and a half. At $18 per adult, my advice is to visit only if you are nuts about butterflies.

    Kuranda Koala Gardens
    Clearly geared for tourists, the gardens offer no species that you would not have seen elsewhere. At $16.50, I thought that it was quite pricey and you could probably give this one a miss if you had other zoos on your itinerary.

    Cairns Wildlife Dome
    Again, clearly geared to the tourist staying in Cairns who might not get the chance to visit any other zoo. Good value for $22 considering that you have unlimited visits for 4 days, but poor value considering that the dome covers about 15,000sq.ft and you could see everything in about 2 minutes. However, we visited almost every day at a different time of the day to see a different wildlife presentation. The birds are free-flight, but not very friendly. I did get to see a papuan frogmouth which was cool.

    Wait-a-while Rainforest Tours
    Not exactly a zoo, but as we mentioned it earlier on the thread, I thought that I would give a brief summary. At $190pp for an afternoon/night tour, it isn't cheap, but it was definitely worth the money. The tour guide was extremely knowledgeable on all things 'Cairns' (history, geography, culture, wildlife), the tour was at a good pace, and the scones and dinner were excellent. Of course, we really went on tour to see wildlife, so let's see how many animals we spotted that I can recall:

    * Lumholtz's tree kangaroo
    * Green ringtail possum
    * Common brushtail possum
    * Lemuroid possum
    * Coppery brushtail possum
    * Musk rat kangaroo
    * Assorted poteroos, rats, kangaroos, agile wallabies
    * Unknown snake - possibly a brown tree snake
    * White-breasted sea eagle
    * Numerous native smaller birds, including a fruit dove and kingfisher
    * Platypus

    A few pics are attached.
     
  17. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    well that certainly does sound good; I'm glad I didn't put you off going with them ;)
    $190 is a bit pricey but then, I haven't seen a lemuroid possum yet. How many other people were on the tour with you, or was it just the two of you?
     
  18. nanoboy

    nanoboy Well-Known Member

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    Oh I should have mentioned that: we paid for a shared tour, but it was just our luck that we were the only people on tour that night, so it was like a private tour.

    Yeah we saw the lemuroid possum on the drive out of the national park. I really wanted to see a striped possum (but didn't). Some Americans had seen one earlier in the week and they weren't too impressed because it looked "just like a skunk". :mad:

    The other tour guide you mentioned has a pretty good reputation up there, and seems to be lucky too. Our guide said that Alan regularly calls barking owls, and moved a 4m scrub python off the road the other day. Nice!
     
  19. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    bah, Americans don't know what's good for them :D
    Apparently striped possums are pretty difficult to see because they are so shy. They disappear at the first hint of torch-light before you even know they're there, unlike the ringtails and brushtails who just pretend they don't see you.
     
  20. Lynx

    Lynx Active Member

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    I was amped to see this thread! Me and my girlfriend are going to Cairns in October and it's been great to read about some of the places. The Cairns Wildlife Safari sounds the best, that's the only one with lions, tigers etc, right?