Sydney is the perfect place to get up close and personal with native Australian animals. Its fantastic zoos, aquariums and wildlife parks will let you meet koalas and hand feed kangaroos. If you're feeling brave, you can even pat a snake and dive with sharks.
Taronga Zoo is the most popular pit-stop for animal lovers, its home to over 350 species, including giraffes, elephants and tigers. There are also daily bird and seal presentations, and keeper talks on many of the animals. Make a day of it and arrive by ferry from Circular Quay so you also enjoy a boat ride across Sydney Harbour.
In Western Sydney, Sydney Zoo has hundreds of native and exotic animals in open-air safari-style exhibits. Walk among lions and zebras on the African boardwalks, see what animals get up to after dark in the Reptile & Nocturnal House and have a meerkat sit on your shoulder.
Darling Harbour is just a short stroll from Town Hall station and home to SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium. There are gentle king and gentoo penguins, a dugong called Pig and lots more. Adrenaline seekers will love scuba diving with grey nurse sharks while the less adventurous enjoy riding over the reef in a glass bottom boat.
WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo is next to the aquarium. If you’re brave enough, you can pat a snake or climb into a crawl space with pop-up windows to get a close-up view of Rocky, a saltwater crocodile that clocks in at over 360kg. You can walk among kangaroos and emus, meet koalas and join behind-the-scenes tours, including python encounters.
If getting up close to a koala is on your wishlist, drive out west towards the Blue Mountains to visit Featherdale Wildlife Park – it's one of the only places in Sydney where you can have a close encounter with the native furry friends. Also out west, Zambi Wildlife Retreat is the place to see big cats, including lions, tigers and even a puma. Just south of Sydney you can meet exotic and native animals at Symbio Wildlife Park. Head north for an hour and you’ll get to the Australian Reptile Park, where you can meet Elvis, a saltwater crocodile, and watch snake and spider shows.
Destination NSW acknowledges and respects Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations and recognises Aboriginal people as the Traditional Owners and occupants of New South Wales land and water.