Every birthday I had until I was about 12 years old, I spent at the zoo. I wanted to be a vet and although I never quite got there (the idea of putting an animal down was a little too much for me) my love for animals has never dwindled.
So, when Taronga Zoo invited J and I to spend a night on the Roar and Snore experience I was beyond excited.
On a perfect spring day, we packed our bags and headed to the leafy Sydney suburb of Mosman.
We arrived in the early evening and were escorted through the zoo to our home for the night, a perfectly appointed tent with unmatched views of Sydney harbour.
We were welcomed by some locals and settled in with a glass of champagne and delicious cheese platter.
After enjoying the incredible sunset it was time to head off for the night safari. Our knowledgable (and witty) guides took us to see a number of nocturnal animals. We loved seeing the majestic bongo, an antelope which is critically endangered with less than 100 left in the wild.
Dinner was a tasty buffet finishing with a quintessentially Australian magnum!
It was wonderful to see many of the animals that we are so accustomed to seeing doze on trees or rocks during the day, truly come to life in the cool evening.
We headed back to our cozy little tent for a night cap and sat back and enjoyed the incredible city skyline for a while.
It was getting late and definitely time to settle in for what turned out to be quite a noisy night!
Although it wasn't quite a roar, every so often through the night we were woken by the squeals and screeches of the chimpanzees from across the zoo in their enclosure. There had recently been 5 females introduced into the group and undoubtedly the males were showing off and there some shuffling in the pecking order going on. We certainly weren't complaining!
The tents are equipped with power so you can recharge all your devices for the next day and an electric blanket to keep you toasty on those cooler nights.
We were gently woken by the sounds of the native birds as the sun began to rise in the morning. It didn't take us long to jump out of bed and head to our continental breakfast in the centre of camp. We put together some fruit and muesli, picked up a croissant (or two) and enjoyed it with a steaming cup of tea looking out over arguably the best view in Sydney. Who could ask for a better way to start the day?
Over the next few hours our guide took us to a number of the enclosures to see animals at their most active time, often being fed by their keepers.
We also learnt about the incredible new app called 'Wildlife Witness'. The world is only becoming more mobile and tech savvy and this app allows travellers in South East Asia to report mistreatment of animals by placing a pin, taking a photo or making an alert. The reported incident is investigated and action can then be taken to save the animals and protect others in the future. As travellers, we can use this app to help make an impact on the illegal animal trade so common in this part of the world.
An absolute highlight for me was getting up close to the majestic giraffes and helping with their morning feed. They have got to be one of the most mesmerisingly beautiful animals, with their big eyes, long eyelashes and slow but steady saunter.
They really do have the best view in Sydney!
Roar and Snore was almost coming to an end but we had one more encounter left, a walk through the lemur enclosure.
The keepers explained the teaching process which allows us to safely enter their enclosure and the techniques used to help care for them in captivity, like having regular blood tests without sedation.
It was a wonderful experience to see them interact with each other.
We said goodbye to our guides and headed off to enjoy the rest of our day exploring.
We headed to the seal show, which definitely took us back to our childhood memories of the zoo.
Then we visited my favourite red pandas.
After that we decided it was time to see the zoo from a different perspective, above.
Taronga has recently installed a high ropes course, Wild Ropes which takes you over enclosures and walkways consequently giving you a bit of an audience as you tackle one of the four courses. You complete the low course first and then can jump to the high for your second turn if you are up for the challenge. We had so much fun, joking with zoo patrons below us and giggling at ourselves and the very different ways we were tackling each section.
Unfortunately our time at the zoo had come to an end. So just like the little children of our past not wanting to leave, we reluctantly collected our bags and wandered out with heavy feet, just dreaming of next time.
xx The Strawberry Story
Thank you to the wonderful staff at Taronga Zoo, Roar and Snore and Wild Ropes for making our experience one to remember!