The Australian native wildlife is a highlight of every trip to the country-continent. Who doesn’t want to meet a kangaroo or cuddle a koala? These are probably Australia’s most iconic animals but there are so many more unusual animals to meet and get to know. There are many animal parks around and the choice is tough.
We want to see as many endemic animals as possible. After a comprehensive research, I pick Featherdale Wildlife Park near Sydney which hosts one of the largest collections of Australian native wildlife.
I am not attracted to zoos and I feel sorry for the poor creatures. I was indifferent to zoos even as a kid. Thus, I am surprised that among everything else I am looking forward to seeing in Australia, are wildlife parks.
Featherdale provides much space for its inhabitants, only the birds are in cages and the saltwater crocodile is behind a glass wall. Fences separate the rest of the animals from visitors.
A short walk from the train station takes us to the park. On the way, I inhale deeply the fragrant cool air and listen to the bird sounds. A flock of yellow-crested cockatoos confidently explores the area. Australia is the ”Land of Parrots” and colorful parrots sing in the trees even in big cities.
We arrive when the park opens. Sharp. There are no people! Feeling privileged that we’ll have time to explore before the crowds arrive, we grab the complimentary bottles of water, buy food for the kangaroos, and, impatiently, rush to meet the Australian wildlife for the first time.
We are attempting in vain to photograph rare ducks in a pond – they move too quickly and hide from the cameras.
At that moment, I see a kangaroo. A small, friendly kangaroo, waiting to be fed. I am so excited by the sudden sight that I exclaim childishly: ”Kangaroo, kangaroo!”. The marsupial leans on my hand with its front legs and eats patiently. This is definitely one of the cutest and loveliest things that I have ever experienced. A few kangaroos quickly surround me, attracted by the dried grass in my hands.
The yellow-crested cockatoo is both a pet and a pest in Australia. There are signs at some hotels to not feed them and let them in. While trying to take pictures of these amusing birds, a thin voice greets us: ”Hello!”. Later, when there are many people around, the bird keeps silent. We feel special that it spoke to us earlier.
Featherdale is not a big park but there are many animals and we walk around a few times to make sure that we don’t miss anything. Unfortunately, the area of the Tasmanian devil is under maintenance and we won’t be able to see the animal. Platypus, the mammal which lays eggs, electrocutes its prey, and has a venomous spur, is also missing from the park’s abundant animal kingdom. We later find out that platypus is very difficult to breed in captivity. Probably that’s the reason why we don’t find it today.
There are several types of kangaroos at Featherdale, including red and gray kangaroo. Wallabies resemble kangaroos so much that I can never tell the difference.
Wombats seem restless: they walk back and forth like a worried person who can’t find a solution. We hope that our presence doesn’t bother them.
Cassowaries, the tropical big birds with lethal claws, devour their colorful breakfast – tomatoes, watermelon, and tropical fruits.
School groups start arriving and it gets crowded. We are content that we’ve had an exciting, unrushed morning.