San Diego Zoo Safari Park to open new Walkabout Australia exhibit

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is famous for its expansive habitats featuring African and Asian species – the all-new Walkabout Australia gives park guests a view into a new region of the world with interesting and unique species. The immersive 3.6-acre Walkabout Australia habitat, representing Australia’s rural landscapes, opens summer 2018!

• The Walkabout Australia experience offers the opportunity for up close animal interactions with unique species like kangaroo, wallaby and wombats. These unique opportunities are similar to experiences offered by zoos in Australia and are a key part of their work to engage local communities in species preservation.

• Included in Walkabout are habitats for two endangered animal species, the southern cassowary and the Matschie’s tree kangaroo. Both are unique and beautiful species threatened by loss of habitat. Both species are new to the Safari Park and form part of a national effort to create sustainable insurance populations of this species under human care.

• As part of its ongoing work to San Diego Zoo Global works in partnership with government officials, conservationists and zoos in Australasia to learn about and preserve the unique species found in the region.

• Walkabout Australia takes guests through four different types of Australian habitats: grassland, rain forest, wetlands and desert. Featured animals include western gray kangaroos, red-necked wallabies, brush turkeys, radjah shelducks, freckled ducks, magpie geese, double-wattled cassowaries, Matschie’s tree kangaroos, kookaburras, rose-breasted cockatoos, echidnas, sugar gliders and wombats.

• A pathway, with no barriers, will lead guests through an expansive grassland, home to a large group of Western gray kangaroos and red-necked wallabies. The kangaroo and wallabies may come right up and interact with guests!

• An authentic Australian Aussie Animal Station provides picturesque vistas from a veranda while coming nose-to-nose with wombats, echidnas, and sugar gliders. Accompanied by their keepers, these extraordinary animal ambassadors will also be available for up-close encounters several times throughout the day.

• Wander through a lush Australian rain forest and become surrounded by the laughter of kookaburras and the cackling calls of rose-breasted cockatoos. From an elevated walkway, you will find the endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo. These endangered marsupials are native to mountainous forests and will be part of a breeding program at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, designed to save them from the brink of extinction.
• Meet Australia’s tallest bird, the double-wattled cassowary. At 5-feet-tall and 130-pounds, this prehistoric-looking bird is hard to miss as it rustles through the brush. Cassowaries are listed as endangered species of least concern; most tallies put the number of cassowaries remaining in Australia around 1,500 to 2,000 but no one knows for certain. This flightless bird will take part in a breeding program at the Safari Park.
• In this era of changing climate conditions, Australia—like California—is experiencing longer and more widespread periods of drought, along with an increase in wildfires. As a result, water is a more precious resource than ever. Walkabout Australia explores the vital connection between water and the animals and people that depend on it. A stream runs through the grassland area, pooling in a pond—called a billabong by Australians.

• A water conservation tank, like one that might be used by Australian farmers or ranchers, demonstrates how collecting water during the rains can be a valuable source during dry times, and provides suggestions for how to collect and save water at your own home. A children’s area allows kids (and adults) to take a break and play in shallow, lapping water at the pond’s edge while watching the birds.

• Walkabout Australia’s central gathering place – the Zeust Family Station – is a building representing the wool shearing sheds found on Australia’s many sheep ranches, which are called “stations.” Here, you can stop for a bite to eat and a cool drink, then look around the themed building to learn about the various techniques and traditions of sheep ranching and wool production practiced in Australia for more than 200 years.

• Enormous, rounded rocks similar to those found in the Australian desert, called Devil’s Marbles, usher you into a garden of water-wise and drought-tolerant plants, some native to Australia and some found in California, but all masters at making the most of what little moisture is available. From here, Walkabout Australia has opened up new routes that can take you to World Gardens, or to Condor Ridge, making it easier than ever to explore all the Safari Park has to offer.

• Come experience wildlife from the Land Down Under at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The opening of Walkabout Australia is just a hop, skip and a jump away! Walkabout Australia is included with Safari Park admission and Membership. For more information, visit our web site at sandiegozoo.org/Walkabout

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