We all know that enclosures in zoos are primarily there for safety. Yet, the inevitable separation they create between man and beast may be disconcerting, or even revoltingly artificial, to some. If you’re looking for something that’s both safe and allows for interaction with free ranging animals, then South Australia’s Urimbirra Wildlife Park is bound to satisfy the animal lover in you!
Meet Australia’s natives
Among some of the things Australia’s known for, kangaroos and koala bears would probably be two of the first to come to mind. Sure, there are several places in Australia where you get to feed a kangaroo or to have a picture taken with a koala. But aren’t you sick of small, enclosed petting zoos, or being caged in a tour bus (literally) as you stick your hands out of the safety metal grill with kangaroo food in hand? Unlike many of such sites, Urimbirra prides itself as an open-range wildlife park.
Simply put, many of its animals are left free ranging in vast grasslands. This differs greatly from zoos because you find these animals in a natural (but fenced) rather than a constructed environment. In fact, I almost forgot I was actually in a park until I chanced upon a fence that marked the park boundary.
If this sounds too unrestrained and dangerous, fret not! Crocodiles and other dangerous reptiles are, of course, kept in confined spaces that ensure a safe distance between man and beast. A friend of mine who visited Urimbirra with me worked in a zoo for a period of time, and pointed out an enclosed bird that looked rather harmless to me. As it turned out, the Cassowary is known to be able to kill a man with just a single deathly kick. Slightly perturbed by this fact, I was comforted to know that Urimbirra has taken the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of its guests – particularly those less well versed in fauna, such as myself.
In essence, the park only allows non-lethal animals to roam freely throughout the entire park. These include, but are not limited to, chickens, peacocks, and of course, Australia’s iconic kangaroos and wallabies!
Feeding time? More like selfie time!
In this day and age of proliferated social media use, it seems almost mandatory that when one gets a chance to be this close to an animal, a selfie should be taken. As a stickler for the rules, I had to oblige.
But here’s something you should know: these adorable fur balls don’t allow just anyone to take its picture. In general, the free ranging kangaroos and wallabies in the park only stay within a one-meter radius of humans if they have food to offer. Once you have fed one, be quick to whip out your camera/phone to snap a selfie before they hop away!
Tip: purchase an entire bag of kangaroo food at the gift shop when you first enter the park for just 1 AUD (approximately 1 USD). Otherwise, it’ll be quite a long walk back to purchase it if you’ve already reached the kangaroos/wallabies’ usual hangout spot in the park.
As much as the little joeys are, in my opinion, the cutest to photograph, they were easily shocked and kept hopping away from me. Sad to say, I didn’t manage to get any selfies with the cute little ones. Hence, approach them slowly without sudden movements!
I Want the Concrete Jungle Too
If you’re like me and are keen on seeing these animals up close and personal, but don’t wish for your entire holiday to be about animals (as a safari trip to South Africa would), then I would definitely recommend Urimbirra Wildlife Park.
As much as I’m not an animal enthusiast, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the Wildlife Park. As one adverse to the smell of animal waste, I was pleasantly surprised by how scentless Urimbirra was. More surprisingly, for someone who used to be afraid of animals, I dare say that these animals were so gentle that I was not overwhelmed by the sheer number of them roaming around. So come, awaken the animal lover in you here at Urimbirra Wildlife Park!
Located just a two hour drive away from South Australia’s capital city of Adelaide, Urimbirra serves as the perfect day-trip destination for those who wish to sample both the rustic and the city life.
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