Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wildlife in Australia

Continuing on with the vacation theme, I will take a break from my normal blogging on gaming and write about the real reason we work, which is to have fun and go on vacation. Next week I will get back to gaming and such.

There is something really cool about seeing wild life up close in Australia. While one can always go to the local zoo, there is nothing like actually being in one of the more exotic spots on the world and seeing the native animals up close. Australia is one of those far away places that one see’s on Discovery, but only very rarely one gets to go there. From the US, it is a good 12+ hours away from the west coast. Even from Shanghai, it is still 10 hours away.

Today we zipped up to the Reptile Park for some up close animal encounters. Its name suggests that it specializes in reptiles, but the coolest thing about the park were the kangaroo and koalas. To be honest, I was actually a bit disappointed with the reptiles that they had, as I thought it paled to what is available for viewing at the San Diego zoo, which really is one of the nicer zoos in the world. Of all the zoos that I have been to, which are quite a few, I would rank the San Diego and Washington DC zoos as the top two.

In the greater Sydney area, there are a number of places that you can hold and get your picture taken with the koalas. Without a doubt, koalas are rather cute looking. They just sit there, so they are perfect getting the entire family up close with one. The Reptile Park had a number of them, and we were able to spend a good 10 minutes with one up close. This was a big hit with the family.

They also had a large open area that had a number of free ranging kangaroos. Kangaroos are also surprising very cool. The ones at the park were very friendly, especially if you had food, and they would let you get really close. They had a number of red and grey kangaroos that wandered about. The reds were a good 5+’ tall and the greys were a bit smaller, coming in around 4’ tall. I am sure that there is a more scientific name, but for the purposes of this blog, I will still to describing them as the red ones and grey ones. I was expecting to see them hopping around, but for the most part they did these slow hops and moved rather slowly. The fastest I saw one of them move was when a loud duck charged one of the red males, and he hopped away pretty fast. It was funny to see this much smaller duck frighten off a big kangaroo. To be fair, the duck was rather an ugly one, and seemed to be a bit upset at the kangaroo for some reason.

Now the kangaroos were very friendly if you brought food to them and would eat out of your hand. Well my young daughter I think tried to hug one of the smaller greys, and promptly ended up on her bottom as the grey gave her a bit of a shove. Apparently she was not interested in little people without food. She was a bit stunned that the kangaroo gave her a push, but otherwise she was ok.

There was another grey female that had a joey in the pouch. One would think that the joey would have its head sticking out and be looking about. However, this one only had its big ‘ole feet sticking out, and eventually stuck its head out. It was rather funny looking at the grey with the feet sticking out of the pouch. As a side note, they really do have incredibly big feet.

Right behind the main store they had a very large American alligator pond with a number of alligators swimming about. It was rather amusing to see Mississippi alligators in Australia, but there they were. As we walked down the path that ran alongside the alligator pond they had a sign post with a memorial to Steve Irwin. Apparently, Steve liked to come to the park to look at the alligators, and was a regular visitor. I liked his shows, and it was easy to get wrapped up in his over the top style. He brought a certain excitement to life, which I found very refreshing.

On our way out the door, my daughter spotted a stuffed animal snake that she just had to have. After a couple of attempts to return the snake failed, it ended up going back to the hotel with us. Needless to say she was very happy, and sang the snake song all the way back to the train. Even as I write this blog, she is still holding it while watching TV. I suspect that she got the snake gene from me.

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