Featherdale Wildlife Park isn’t your average zoo. The park shows off many of Australia’s unique animals in an amazingly hands-on experience. Along with being able to see these animals, you are allowed to touch and feed several of them. Our family decided to go our first day in Sydney, and it was well worth it.
Australia is one of the few homes for one of the smallest animal groups on the planet: marsupials. Marsupials can only be found in the Americas and Australia. But what is a marsupial? Marsupials are a class of mammals that carry their young in pouches. We saw several of these animals throughout the Park.
As soon as we stepped into the first enclosure, we were greeted by the sight of several small pademelons. They bounded back and forth on their strong legs, “greeting” people, but really just hoping for a snack. That was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had in a zoo/wildlife park, the experience of being able to feed and touch these extremely cute animals at your leisure.
Another animal we were able to hang out with and feed was a grey kangaroo. Kangaroos unexpectedly have some of the softest fur, in my opinion. One of them had figured out the system, by just chilling by a mound of food someone had dropped, guarding it from his buddy.
We were able to lay down with him and pet him for as long as we wanted, and he had no objections. Beside the pademelons was the cutest animal in the entire park (no offense to all the other animals). A chubby wombat was trying to catch a few zzz’s against the side of his fence. We were able to reach down and rub his coarse back, and he just kept right on sleeping.
Next up was the main feature of the park.
As we walked through the gate labeled “Koala Sanctuary,” we were greeted by a furry face chomping down on some eucalyptus leaves. Koalas are specially adapted for eating these leaves but, because the leaves have such little nutrition, koalas have to eat all the time.
The koala was super cute and one of my favorite features of the animal was it’s hairy ears. The hair on a koala’s ears sticks out from the rest of it’s head, giving him a mad scientist look. As we watched him eat his afternoon snack, we noticed he was always trying to get to the tops of the leaves. When we asked the zookeeper about this, she explained that eucalyptus leaves have a lot of acid in them. The ends of the leaves have less acid so they’re more nutritious and taste better. As she explained it, “It’s kinda like their chocolate.” We couldn’t seem to get enough of the koalas, staying for a long time with them and watching their behavior. They are very funny and interesting creatures.
Next were some of the biggest birds I had ever seen. Smaller than an ostrich, but much bigger than most birds, the emu and the cassowary stood as tall or taller than Ella. The cassowary was a sight to behold, with amazing features all over it’s body. Cassowaries’ feet are huge and could probably squash and trample small unsuspecting creatures; even though cassowaries are only scavengers, not hunters. Their huge wings cover most of their body, and it’s head is bright blue with a red crest on top. They would be scary to fight, but they do look quite beautiful with their many different features and colors. The emu is a little less pretty, with its coarse ragged looking feathers and grey face. But it too has strong legs and looks like it could hold it’s own in a tight situation.
Featherdale Wildlife Park is a refuge to all of these Australian animals. The park shows them to the public in a new light, offering a up close experience that was well worth the price of admission. It was a definitely a highlight of Sydney. – Walden