“I wrote to the zoo to send me a pet, and they sent me an… invitation to see the animals face-to-face!”
Taking your kiddo to a zoo, wildlife sanctuary or farm is a fab way to teach them about animals and see some of the world’s most amazing creatures close-up.
So, here are 21 places your cub can meet animals in zoos and sanctuaries in NSW. An elephant never forgets, and your poppet will remember these encounters for years to come too.
Happy birthday, Taronga Zoo! Celebrate 100 years of this Sydney icon by mingling with 4,000+ animals from Australia and beyond. Hip hip hooray for koalas, rhinos, elephants, penguins, giraffes and lemurs!
Bradley’s Head Rd, Mosman. Open daily from 9:30am (closed October 7, 2016 for their 100th Birthday Celebration). Call (02) 9969 2777.
WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo
Hop into an Australian animal adventure at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo. The roos and wombats will be popular, and for an extra special touch, you can book experiences like breakfast with koalas or check out the daily feeding of Princess the Cassowary.
Darling Harbour, next to SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium. Open daily from 9:30am. Call 1800 206 158.
Featherdale Wildlife Park
For a true blue zoo experience, head to Featherdale Wildlife Park. Handfeed wallabies and kangaroos and get up close and personal with a koala, all in a natural bush setting that’s nestled within the Sydney metro area.
217-229 Kildare Rd, Doonside. Open daily from 9am (closed Christmas Day). Call (02) 9622 1644.
Koala Park Sanctuary
Koala Park Sanctuary is a rainforest oasis in Sydney, but the real highlight is the chance to feed a koala and get your tot’s photo taken with these ‘beary’ cute critters.
84 Castle Hill Rd, West Pennant Hills. Open daily from 9am (closed Christmas Day). Call (02) 9484 3141.
Calmsly Hill City Farm
Calmsly Hill City Farm lets your sprout be Old Macdonald for a day. They’ll learn how to milk a cow, feed animals in the farmyard nursery, see working dogs in action and get up close to sheep shearing. They’ll be singing e-i-e-i-o all the way home again.
31 Darling St, Abbotsbury. Open daily from 9am. Call (02) 9823 3222.
Golden Ridge Animal Farm
From teeny ducklings, to roaring bulls, Golden Ridge Animal Farm offers your youngster the chance to encounter all farm animals great and small. Plus, bottle feed baby lambs and kids. Awww!
Cnr Old Northern and Wyoming Rds, Dural. Farm starts 10:15am weekdays, 10:45am Saturdays, 11am Sundays. Bookings essential, call (02) 9651 1028.
Australian Reptile Park
Get snap happy at Australian Reptile Park! See crocs, snakes, spiders, owls, Tasmanian devils and many more scaly, feathery and furry friends. Our tip: book an animal encounter to get up-close to a koala joey, Komodo dragon or Galapagos tortoise.
Pacific Highway, Somersby. Open daily from 9am (closed Christmas Day). Call (02) 4340 1022.
Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park
Go bush at Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park! There are farm animals to meet and greet in the petting zoo as well as emus, kangaroos, wallabies, turtles and even pythons (!) roaming free.
1 Darkinjung Rd, cnr Peats Ridge Rd, Calga. Open daily from 9am (closed Christmas Day). Call (02) 4375 1100.
Hunter Valley Zoo
Hunter Valley Zoo is home to animals from home and away. With colourful macaws, exotic leopard tortoises, spiky echidnas and lots more, your mini-mite’s eyes will be as big as saucers.
Lomas Lane, Nulkaba. Open Thursday to Tuesday and daily during the school holidays (closed Christmas Day). Call (02) 4990 7714.
Blackbutt Reserve covers 182 hectares of natural bush, with trails to walk and residents to meet (birds, mammals and reptiles). Your kidlet will love the roaming peacocks and brush turkeys too!
Carnley Ave, Kotara. Wildlife exhibits open daily from 10am (closed Christmas Day, Good Friday and before 1pm on ANZAC Day). Call (02) 4904 3344.
Oakvale Farm & Fauna World
Oakvale Farm & Fauna World provides hands-on fun for all the family. Feed the free-range animals (kids and kangaroos are a perfect match), meet koalas, see cow milking, take a tractor trailer ride and gush over baby farm animals.
3 Oakvale Dr, Salt Ash. Open daily from 10am (closed Christmas Day and ANZAC Day). Call (02) 4982 6222.
Billabong Zoo‘s keeper shows are a fab way to see penguins, meerkats, snow leopards, cheetahs, crocs and more up-close. Feed a roo, then head to the Koala Breeding Centre to pat and photograph the cuddly marsupials.
61 Billabong Dr, Port Macquarie. Open daily from 9am (closed Christmas Day). Call (02) 6585 1060.
Waterways Wildlife Park
Waterways Wildlife Park provides a home among the gum trees for koalas, emus, lizards, possums, parrots, eagles and lots more Aussie wildlife. Pack a
teddy koala bears’ picnic and make a day of it.
8418 Oxley Highway, Gunnedah. Open daily from 10am. Call (02) 6742 1826.
Symbio Wildlife Park
Symbio Wildlife Park gives your squidlet the chance to see meerkats, tigers, red pandas, little monkeys and more. Book a behind-the-scenes encounter or explore the park at your own pace.
7-11 Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Helensburgh. Open daily from 9:30am (closed Christmas Day). Call (02) 4294 1244.
Meet over 100 native and exotic species at Shoalhaven Zoo. Your tyke will love having a chance to meet a dingo on the Wild Paws Trek or get involved in some marmoset monkey business in the Monkey Madness Experience.
23 Rock Hill Rd, North Nowra. Open daily, first show at 11am (closed Christmas Day). Call (02) 4421 3949.
Mogo Zoo houses more than 42 rare and exotic species, including the white lions of ‘Timbavati’ and the silvery gibbon, so this is a real treat for kids and a great way for them to learn about conservation.
222 Tomakin Rd, Mogo. Open daily from 9am (closed Christmas Day). Call (02) 4474 4930.
Birdland Animal Park
Birdland Animal Park will be a big hit with your littlies, especially when they meet their cuteness match in Bangles the baby wombat and her red woolly jumper! There’s the chance to stroke a snake and feed a roo too. Woo hoo!
55 Beach Rd, Batemans Bay. Open daily from 9:30am. Call (02) 4472 5364.
Potter about the Potoroo Palace native animal educational sanctuary, and you’ll happen upon parrots, lizards, frogs, dingoes, emus, koalas, possums and, of course, potoroos are living happily together.
2372 Princes Highway, Merimbula. Open daily from 10am (closed Christmas Day). Call (02) 6494 9053.
Western Plains Zoo
Whether you walk, cart or ride a bike around Western Plains Zoo, this place provides an unforgettable experience. With big cats, hippos, rhinos, zebras and loads more, your young’un will feel like they’ve stepped into the pages of Animalia.
Obley Rd, Dubbo. Open daily from 9am. Call (02) 6881 1400.
Altina Wildlife Park
Go on safari at Altina Wildlife Park! It’s not every day that your wee one can take a cart tour past lions, alligators, giraffes, antelopes, camels, tahrs, bison and Australian animals too. Who’s keen? Yay or neeeiiiighhhh!
Sturt Highway, Darlington Point. Open daily by appointment only. Call 0412 060 342.
Mudgee Small Farm Field Days
Mudgee Small Farm Field Days is a chance for your kiddo to say “howdy” to horses, ponies and donkeys, learn about snakes, see cows and goats being milked and get hands-on in the animal nursery.
267 Ulan Road, Bombira (adjacent to Mudgee Airport) July 15 and 16, 2016 from 8:30am. Call (02) 6372 3899