My top 5 experiences of all time are getting harder and harder to nail down, but the Walk on the Wild Side Tour still remains in my top 5 because of its uniqueness and thrill factor. It’s a bit pricey but well worth the money for this one of kind experience to be a zookeeper for the day and go behind the scenes at the National Zoo.
There were only 3 of us on the tour that day and it was tailored to what we wanted to see and do. I felt like we saw EVERY animal and reptile in the zoo, but it was nice to have been asked what animals we really wanted to spend time with. Our personal tour guide was one of the zookeepers, and she was the BEST guide ever and extremely knowledgeable. Besides the interactions mentioned below, I also got to feed penguins, sea otters, nurse sharks, and prepared food for the monkeys. I opted not to hold snakes because I’m terrified of them.
The tour is offered at the National Zoo in Canberra, the capital of Australia. Canberra is a short flight from Sydney and 3 hours by car or bus.
Here is what it’s like to take a walk on the wild side
The day began with feeding the giraffes- As you can see I was a little uncomfortable in this picture because my entire hand was in the giraffe’s mouth and their tongues are like sandpaper!
The day continued with breakfast with the giraffes- Now this part is not for everyone because we learned that giraffes do this thing call rumination when they eat and umm…it’s not exactly a pleasant sight/sound when you are trying to eat breakfast. A neat way to start the day nonetheless!
Feeding the red pandas- I’ll admit I had never heard of red pandas and was expecting a smaller version of the Giant Panda. These little guys were super cute and they were basically hanging out on our laps while we fed them grapes, making it a very up close and personal encounter.
Inside the Lion’s Den- This is our tour guide setting out food for the lions. They were caged up but I felt like they were going to come out and get us at any moment!
Feeding the lions
Observing the sleeping experts- This has to be one of the cutest animal photos I’ve ever taken. Adorable. Just another day in the life of a koala. These guys can sleep up to 22 hours a day!
Lunch with the cougar- We had lunch right behind the cougar enclosure and got to feed it some tasty treats. That’s why it is so intently looking at us.
Hanging out with the brown bears- The bear is licking sweet potato off of my hand, under the watchful eye of our tour guide. The bear’s claws were pretty sharp so weren’t supposed to put our hand right up against the cage.
Feeding the little sun bear
Tamarin monkeys- We got to hang out with and feed several different monkey species and the Tamarin monkeys were by far my favorites. These tiny dudes jumped on our shoulders and arms like we were trees and my friend got peed on. Teehee.
Petting the cheetah- Looking back, I still can’t believe I did this. I’m smiling for the camera, but inside I’m thinking- breathe, stay calm, this is almost over. Haha. I saw cheetahs out hunting in Tanzania, so I know how dangerous these guys are. Whew!