What’s your favourite animal? There is a lot to choose from so I won’t be offended if you take a second to think it over. Otters are my favourite animal. It’s hard to give you one good reason why, but I just love the little critters, they’re so dang cute. Whenever I see them at the Zoo all I want to do is touch them. Recently, on what can only be described as one of the best days of my entire life, I got to touch two of the sweetest, cheekiest little otters, Bonnie and Maria, thanks to Australia Zoo.

Australia Zoo has just launched their brand new animal encounter, the Otter Experience, and it is one of the best things I have ever done. Before the encounter started, I sat watching/stalking the otters while they played and chattered to each other. By the time I got to go in there, I had a big grin plastered across my face, like a little kid on Christmas morning.

The animal keepers are so caring and knowledgeable, you can tell they absolutely adore the animals they care for. I sat down on the wooden steps and one of the little otters, Maria, scurried onto my lap and started noisily demanding food from her doting keeper. The quieter of the two, Bonnie, jumped onto my shoulder and sat patiently waiting for her turn, with her little face right next to mine. I sat absolutely still at first, frozen to the spot with joy, I suspect it is similar to how it might feel to meet Rihanna.

While their keeper fed them treats of fish, I petted them and the photographer took photos. Bonnie was relaxing more on my shoulder and I just couldn’t help myself, I pushed my right cheek against the soft fur of her cheek and she nestled into me, sort of hugging me back by pushing her little head into me. It’s hard to describe it but, try to imagine having a moment where you get to interact with your favourite animal in that way. It was incredible, I never thought in my whole life I’d get to touch an otter, let alone have one snuggled into me while another pounces around on my lap.

They were so cheeky, friendly and, surprisingly, very photogenic! Bonnie looked intently at the camera whenever it came near her and pulled cute faces for the photographer, while Maria was more focused on her lunch. The whole experience was ridiculously good, it was unique and so much fun, I would recommend it to anybody, young or old. It’s a very worthwhile, once in a lifetime experience (just like meeting Rihanna!).

When was the last time you went to Australia Zoo? I hadn’t been in about 12 years and had completely forgotten how much fun it is. It’s easy to forget about it as a fun weekend activity as we’re so used to hearing about it and are programmed to think of it as a tourist destination. My visit was anything BUT touristy, it was just plain awesome, I had so much fun I lost track of time.

In case you’ve forgotten, it takes less than an hour to drive from the heart of Brisbane to Beerwah, which makes it perfect for a fun day with your family and friends without having to travel far. There’s a fantastic eatery inside which has a huge range of food including gluten-free, vegetarian and healthy options, all at reasonable prices.

Aside from spending a lot of time staring at otters, I also had a great time in Roo Heaven. It’s the one time we can live up to the image tourists have of us, walking around surrounded by kangaroos. For $2 you can pick up a bag of roo food and hand feed the placid, friendly wallabies and kangaroos. They’ll even pose for a selfie!

The main show at The Crocoseum is entertaining and really funny. The keepers know their stuff but also like to have a bit of a joke with a few of the audience members. There’s a petting zoo with goats and sheep for the little ones to engage with and two gigantic, beautiful tortoises. Just to clarify, they aren’t part of the petting zoo. You can stare at the koalas and wonder how the heck they’re clinging onto that tree, despite appearing comatose and marvel at the mesmerising tigers.

Throughout the day there are plenty of opportunities to take photos with the animals, thanks to professional photographers. You can cuddle an alligator, kiss a snake or make friends with a koala. There are giraffes, zebras, red pandas, rhinos and a very fit looking cheetah that I wouldn’t want to mess with. If you’re into something home-grown there are wombats, who go for walkies, echidnas and dingos.

Australia Zoo is a great activity for families during the school holidays, but it’s also a really fun day out with your friends or partner too. It feels good to visit Australia Zoo because you know they are committed to conservation and educating people on how the environment and our actions are impacting the wildlife. So take advantage of how close we live to this fantastic place and enjoy a fun day out engaging with incredible animals and, maybe, a once in a lifetime animal encounter.


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