Have you ever wondered what happens at a zoo after dark? Or wished for a VIP zoo tour with guaranteed active animals, and the opportunity to hold, pat and view some critters up close? The Wildlife HQ Zoo Night Zoo twilight tour offers all this and more, for an animal-packed 1 and a half hours that will thrill, amaze and even educate visitors of all ages.
The Night Zoo is a new initiative offered by Wildlife HQ, where a team of keepers guide a small group of visitors around selected exhibits. Here, the keepers feed the animals and provide information about the species and the individual animals they care for.
This is a very different experience to visiting the zoo normally, where you can travel through the exhibits at your leisure. The Night Zoo experience is definitely more of a guided tour. The evening breeze and animal noises in the rainforest certainly add to the atmosphere.
There are no more than 25 visitors per night and not every animal in the zoo is included as they aren’t all active at night.
When we arrived, we were offered insect repellant (recommended!). The keepers had some lizards out to greet the guests, and people were able to pat the lizards and ask questions. The tour group watched a tree kangaroo have a salad dinner and hang out near the quokka and red panda enclosures to wait for any latecomers, before moving as a group through the rainforest setting towards the baboons.
As we walked through, we passed several other exhibits, including other primates, wallabies, an emu and deer and a howling dingo.
The baboons were active and fun, and there was plenty of room for everyone on the tour to see them along their long front fence.
Next were servals, which are a type of large African hunting cat. We were treated to them hissing and walking overhead as they made their way from one part of their enclosure to another.
After the Servals, our tour went to the African-painted dogs (which we were told have a very complicated social dynamic) before viewing two of the zoo’s largest, most popular and often most elusive inhabitants, the binturong and sun bear. These omnivorous animals from Asia were both incredible to see in action.
After this, we went up to a native Australian animal section where we were able to view eastern quolls, Tasmanian devils and koalas, and even pat the latter two. Once again the keepers shared some of their knowledge about the animals, and their genuine care and affection for their charges shone through.
The tour then led us back through the rainforest towards another section of Tasmanian devils and past the soon-to-be-open bilby enclosure, some alligators and crocodiles and a South American contingent of a capybara and a maned wolf.
At the end of the evening, the keepers had a range of reptiles out for us to interact with, which was a highlight of the tour for many visitors. Guests were invited to hold pythons and a baby alligator. There was time to hold each of the animals (if you wished to), and opportunities to take photos with them. This is the only time flash photography is allowed on the tour.
The parts of the Wildlife HQ Night Zoo experience that allowed guests to interact with and hold the animals were definite highlights for the children attending with us, who had arrived with a fear of snakes. By the end of the evening, thanks to the knowledge, enthusiasm and encouragement of the zoo staff, our children were both holding snakes which is something they wouldn’t have believed two hours earlier.
This is an incredible experience and one that will be filed straight in the ‘core memory’ bank.
Night Zoo is open on Friday and Saturday nights at Wildlife HQ near the Big Pineapple. Bookings are essential. Find out more here.
Brisbane Kids visited Wildlife HQ Night Zoo as guests. Costs were covered.