|Date opened||3 June 1970|
|Location||Beerwah, Queensland, Australia|
|Land area||700 acres (280 ha)|
|No. of animals||1200+|
Australia Zoo is a 700-acre (280 ha) zoo located in the Australian state of Queensland on the Sunshine Coast near Beerwah/Glass House Mountains. It is a member of the Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA), and is owned by Terri Irwin, the widow of Steve Irwin, whose wildlife documentary series The Crocodile Hunter made the zoo a popular tourist attraction.
Australia Zoo was opened by Bob and Lyn Irwin on 3 June 1970 under the name Beerwah Reptile and Fauna Park. Their son Steve had helped his parents since childhood to care for crocodiles and reptiles and to maintain the growing number of animals in the zoo. In 1982 the park was renamed the Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park and the area was doubled with the purchase of another 4 acres (1.6 ha). Steve and Terri changed the name of their now growing wildlife park to Australia Zoo. As filming generated extra funds, Steve and Terri put all money raised from filming and merchandise into conservation and building new exhibits.
Australia Zoo won the Australian Tourism Awards for 2003–2004 in the category Major Tourist Attraction. In 2004, the Australian Animal Hospital was opened next to the zoo to help with animal care and rehabilitation. In 2010, Australia Zoo won Gold in the Queensland Tourism Awards for Major Tourist Attraction and in 2019, they won the RACQ People’s Choice Award – Experience & Services. Visitors will see a wide variety of birds, mammals, and reptiles, and can view crocodile feedings, and have hands-on animal encounters.
Australia Zoo was opened by Bob and Lyn Irwin on 3 June 1970 under the name Beerwah Reptile Park. Bob is a world-renowned herpetologist, who is regarded as a pioneer in the keeping and breeding of reptiles, while Lyn was one of the first to care for and rehabilitate sick and injured wildlife in southeast Queensland. Bob and Lyn passed on their love and respect for wildlife to their three children: Joy, Steve, and Mandy. Steve had helped Bob and Lyn since childhood to care for crocodiles and reptiles and to maintain the growing number of animals in the zoo. In 1982, the park was renamed the Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park and the area was doubled with the purchase of another 4 acres (1.6 ha). In 1987, the Crocodile Environmental Park was opened in an effort to aid saltwater crocodile protection. By the 1990s the Crocodile Environmental Park had become very popular and was seen as unique for its display of crocodile feeding within the park. The area was mainly used to house adult saltwater crocodiles that had been captured and relocated from the wild.
The 1990s brought many changes: Bob and Lyn retired and moved to Rosedale, Queensland, while Steve and Terri changed the name of their now growing wildlife park to Australia Zoo in 1998. As filming generated extra funds, Steve and Terri put all money raised from filming and merchandise into conservation and building new exhibits. Their philosophy was that the zoo animals came first, the zoo team came second, and the zoo visitors came third. The zoo also expanded with the creation of a management team and hiring around 50 staff. Australia Zoo won the Australian Tourism Awards for 2003-2004 in the category Major Tourist Attraction. In 2004, the Australian Animal Hospital was opened next to the zoo to help with animal care and rehabilitation. The facility was built in an old avocado packing shed, and was dedicated to Lyn. The facility had a single operating room, and with a staff of 20 full-time workers and 80 volunteers, it cared for up to 6,000 animals per year. Steve Irwin died in 2006, the same year Australia Zoo Retail won the Tourism Retailing Award from Qantas Australian Tourism Awards.
In 2007, the zoo and the Government of Queensland made a land deal involving giving a parcel of land from the Beerwah State Forest to Australia Zoo in return for land near Peachester State Forest which was transferred to the government for forestry. The swap permitted the development of an open-range safari attraction, allowing the zoo to expand to a world-class standard. In 2008, a new $5 million animal hospital, claimed to be the largest wildlife hospital in the world, opened next to the packing shed. The new 1,300-square-metre (14,000 sq ft) facility is built of mud brick and hay. It contains two operating theaters with viewing areas for student veterinarians, two treatment rooms, intensive care units for mammals, birds, and reptiles, a X-ray room, and public areas including a drop-off area, pharmacy, nursery, and waiting room. A conference room in the building will be rented out to help generate operating funds.
On 15 March 2008 the Brisbane-based newspaper, The Sunday Mail, claimed there are plans to sell Australia Zoo to Animal Planet and create a $100-million Disney-style wildlife theme park. Terri has publicly announced that she has no plans to sell the zoo, but is looking to expand the park. Despite rumours that she intended to return to the United States, Terri denied the claims and became an Australian citizen on 20 November 2009.
During 2019 and early 2020 bushfires the Wildlife Hospital associated with the zoo treated its 90,000th injured animal.
The Australia Zoo business is owned by Australia Zoo Pty Ltd, but the land on which the zoo is located, and most of the surrounding area, is owned by Silverback Properties Pty Ltd.
The zoo contains a wide range of birds, mammals and reptiles.
The 'Mount Franklin Crocoseum' stadium at the zoo has a seating capacity of about 5000. At the time of its construction, it was the first in the world where snake, bird and crocodile shows were conducted. Australia Zoo calls this the 'Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors Show'. This is also where the zoo presents concerts, such as the Summer Down Under series.
On 17 September 2011, the zoo opened its African Safari exhibit, a multi-species replica of the Serengeti ecosystem, showcasing zebras, rhinos, and giraffes interacting as they would in the wild. Cheetahs are also on display, but not in the area where the other animals are. The exhibit includes Queensland bottle trees reflecting the native African baobab tree and mock kopjes as seen in southern Africa.
Opened in April 2005, this exhibit houses both Sumatran and Bengal tigers. The exhibit was built to resemble the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia. It is enclosed on two sides by glass, and includes an underwater viewing area.
Elephantasia is a 12-acre (4.9 ha) Asian themed exhibit that opened in 2006 and is the largest Asian Elephant enclosure in Australia. It includes a wading pool with a fountain, and tropical gardens with shaded areas for the zoo's elephants. In October 2019 Australia Zoo imported four Sumatran Elephants. The elephants are intended to go on display in Elephantasia in 2021.
The Rainforest Aviary is an outdoor walk-through aviary housing about 150 birds, most of which are native to Australia. Adjacent to the Rainforest Aviary is the Birds of Prey aviary, which holds various species of raptors and other predatory birds.
Opened beside the Africa exhibit in December 2014 and named after Steve's daughter, Bindi's Island is a three-story "treehouse" built around a replica fig tree. It offers panoramic views of Australia Zoo, including the adjacent lemur island.
Visitors can eat at the open air upper story "Crikey! Cafe" (which seats up to 1,500), at the Dingo Diner, or at several food vending stands around the zoo.
To get around the zoo, visitors can take Steve's Safari Shuttle, a 'modified trailered bus' that operates on a bitumen (asphalt) roadway circuit. Visitors can also hire a caddie with guide to drive around the zoo for the day.
The zoo includes multiple shaded playgrounds as well as a jumping pillow and water splash park.
The zoo also offers a roving animal team that walks around the grounds throughout the day with various animals such as alligators, birds, snakes, and lizards. Visitors may have their photo taken with the animals and can purchase professional copies from the zoo's photo lab.
In April 2019 Australia Zoo announced $8 million project 'Camp Crocodile'. The wildlife camping experience is expected to lure over 39,000 visitors to the Sunshine Coast each year.
Animal rescue and rehabilitation
This effort is now supported by the 1,300-square-metre (14,000 sq ft) Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital next to the zoo, which can care for up to 10,000 animals per year, with two operating theaters, two treatment rooms, intensive care units for mammals, birds, and reptiles, and an X-ray room, and was designed by WD Architects. The hospital is named in honor of Steve Irwin's mother Lynn Irwin, who died in a car accident in 2000.
Other zoo properties
Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve
This 135,000-hectare (330,000-acre) property was acquired with the assistance of the Australian government as part of the National Reserve System Programme. It is located on the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, and contains spring fed wetlands that provide a water source to threatened habitat and the Wenlock River.
Iron Bark Station (Blackbutt)
Australia Zoo purchased the 3,500 acres (1,400 ha) Iron Bark Station located at Blackbutt, Queensland in 1994. It is part of the great dividing Range, where the East coast meets the dry West. An additional 325 acres (132 ha) was purchased in 1994 to save a dwindling koala population, with fewer than 12 koalas left in the area. Management immediately commenced reforestation, including 44,000 eucalypt trees for koalas. In 1998, another 325 acres (132 ha) was purchased. In 1999, a 5 acres (2.0 ha) release facility was established to rehabilitate native marsupials the area. Another 1,000 acres (400 ha) was purchased in 1999 with funds from the Lynn Irwin Memorial fund (now Wildlife Warriors Worldwide), and another 1,800 acres (730 ha) was added in 2002. In 2007, Bob Irwin became full-time manager of the station.
Mourachan (St. George)
This conservation area was developed to protect endangered species, such as the woma python and yakka skink. It consists of 117,174 acres, in which various habitat types have been created, by Australia Zoo and the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors.
It is a place where endangered species can reestablish populations, and as of 2015, Terri purchased an additional 33,000 acres of land to expand this conservation habitat.
- "Australia Zoo - the Crocodile Hunter". queenslandholidays.com.au. Tourism Queensland. Archived from the original on 27 February 2011. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
- "Visit Us". australiazoo.com.au. Australia Zoo. Archived from the original on 22 September 2010. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
- "Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo". getaway.ninemsn.com.au. Gateway. 8 November 2007. Archived from the original on 5 January 2011. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
- "Get Involved". australiazoo.com.au. Australia Zoo. Archived from the original on 22 September 2010. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
- "Member Location Map". zooaquarium.org.au. ZAA. Retrieved 23 July 2011.
- "Queensland Tourism Awards 2016 - Results". www.queenslandtourismawards.com.au. Archived from the original on 1 March 2019. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
- "The Irwin family". australiazoo.com.au. Australia Zoo. Archived from the original on 17 September 2010. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
- "Good Old Days (from 2008)". australiazoo.com.au. Australia Zoo. Archived from the original on 16 September 2007. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
- Griffiths, Ellie. "Steve Irwin: Spotlight On Australia's Beloved Crocodile Hunter". Culture Trip. Archived from the original on 13 August 2017. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
- "Australian Tourism Awards Winners (2003–2004)". tourism.sa.gov.au. South Australian. Archived from the original on 14 April 2010. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
- "The Wildlife Warriors new Animal Hospital at Australia Zoo". strawtec.com.au. Strawtec. Archived from the original on 2 January 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
- Gardner, Jane (13 April 2008). "Bringing Steve Irwin's dream to life". sunshinecoastdaily.com.au. Sunshine Coast Daily. Archived from the original on 9 May 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
- "Qantas Australian Tourism Awards". tourismalliance.org. National Tourism Alliance. Archived from the original on 18 June 2010. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
- Christine Flatley (22 February 2007). "Irwin's zoo to be world-class". The Advertiser. News Limited. Archived from the original on 8 September 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2010.
- "Zoo News November 2009". australiazoo.com.au. Australia Zoo. Archived from the original on 6 October 2010. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
- Elassar, Alaa. "The Irwin family has saved over 90,000 animals, including many injured in the Australia wildfires". CNN. Archived from the original on 2 October 2020. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
- "Amazing Animals". australiazoo.com.au. Australia Zoo. Archived from the original on 22 September 2010. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
- Marshall, Rebecca (4 January 2009). "What a way to propose". thedaily.com.au. Sunshine Coast Daily. Archived from the original on 26 July 2009. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
- "Zoo Overview". australiazoo.com.au. Australia Zoo. Archived from the original on 12 December 2010. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
- "Feed The Animals". australiazoo.com.au. Australia Zoo. Archived from the original on 17 September 2010. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
- "Australia Zoo announces 'exciting' $8M wildlife camping experience". Travel at 60. 15 April 2019. Archived from the original on 3 May 2019. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
- "Australia Zoo Rescue Unit". australiazoo.com.au. Australia Zoo. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
- "The Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve (SIWR)". australiazoo.com.au. Australia Zoo. Archived from the original on 29 September 2011. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
- "Iron Bark Station (Blackbutt)". australiazoo.com.au. Australia Zoo. Archived from the original on 29 September 2011. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Australia Zoo.|