- Easy to find
- Wide range of animals
- Good conservation ethos
- Animal-friendly enclosures
- Hands-on experience with some animals
- Child-friendly experience
- Still a bit sad to see some of these animals contained in an enclosure
- Not technically in Sydney
Just south of Sydney there is a zoo. It’s not the best known zoo in Sydney, or the most extensive, but it is a beautiful place and well worth a visit. The zoo is Symbio Zoo and we found it to be a fantastic place to take children.
Travelling to Symbio Zoo
We made the drive down the highway towards Wollongong. Clear signage indicated the Helensburgh exit. There were also plenty of signs advertising Symbio. The zoo its self is very close to the highway exit, so it is very easy to find.
We had arrived about 15 minutes before opening. There were already a few other young families milling around. I guess most had the same idea as us – make the most of the morning, then head home for the midday nap. It’s a timeframe that worked well for us with a young child. We felt that in those couple of hours we saw most of what the zoo had to offer.
First Impressions – Symbio Zoo
We paid the very reasonable entry fees and set about exploring the wildlife. Immediately we were drawn to the koala enclosure. They are adorable creatures to look at, although they don’t move around much and Hannah soon lost interest.
The emus were interesting to watch, especially as one was sitting on top of a pile of eggs. The other moved around a fair bit and Hannah enjoyed watching the “duck” for a while (most birds are “duck” to Hannah).
Monkeys! (and other animals) – Symbio Zoo
We followed the path around to the monkey enclosure. This was one of my favourite parts of the zoo. I could watch those amazing little creatures play all day! The tiny marmoset monkeys have to be seen to be believed.
Immediately after the monkeys were the red pandas. We watched for a while as a young boy enjoyed the Red Panda Experience in which he was able to enter an enclosure and meet the creatures up close (under the watchful eye of an animal handler). It looked like a great experience and one that I would consider for Hannah when she is old enough to appreciate it. The red pandas were very active in the morning and enjoyable to watch. Hannah enjoyed pointing at them and calling out “cat”!
The aviary section had a range of native birds spread across a few enclosures. Hannah enjoyed watching them for a few moments, but the true enjoyment of birds for her lies in the ability to chase them, so she wandered off after a little while.
The Sumatran tiger was incredible to see. It’s hard to imagine the scale of the beast until you see one up close. It was also the part of the zoo that left me with the most conflicted feelings. In addition to being in absolute awe of the creature, I felt great sadness about its enclosure and about the human impact that has reduced this animal to critically endangered status.
Face-To-Face With The Wildlife – Symbio Zoo
The Symbio farmyard was a highlight for Hannah. She tried desperately to climb into the enclosure with a goat and she took great delight in getting close to the curious little fellow. The cheetahs and Lemurs were both fairly hidden away, so we walked past those two exhibits fairly quickly.
Then we arrived at the highlight of the day – the kangaroo walkthrough. This was the highlight because it was Hannah’s first encounter with kangaroos, and she was able to get up close and make physical contact with them. She was extremely tentative at first. Her approach involved quickly walking up to the rear end of a roo, quickly reaching out, stroking, then quickly running away. Soon she grew in confidence and she made it her business to pat every single kangaroo in Symbio Zoo. Every time Hannah came face-to-face with a kangaroo, she squealed with delight. The kangaroos were the most placid and accepting creatures. They didn’t seem to mind one bit the antics of an exuberant one year old, some of them even bounded over with a sense of curiosity and (and probably a vague hope of receiving food).
We spent a long time with the kangaroos, so much time in fact that the rest of the park was a bit of a blur. We hurried through the reptile house (it was very noisy as there was a large groups of children inside) and had a quick look at the dingoes, the second monkey enclosure and the meerkats. We also had a quick glance at the monitor lizard and the crocodiles, but because they were so still, Hannah didn’t really know what she was looking at.
We left the park and headed home for the mid-day nap. I felt that we had made the most of the time that we had, and that we had seen all of the animals at Symbio Zoo that were of most interest to Hannah.
Symbio Zoo is a place that I imagine we will return to regularly, especially as Hannah grows and becomes more aware of what she is looking at. Symbio Zoo has a great ethos of conservation and respect for the animals, rather than just being a place for tourists to have a stickybeak. For those of you, like me, who plan to make a few trips to Symbio each year, the Season Pass is worth considering.