New Australian Habitat at San Diego Zoo Safari Park
May 17, 2018
By Ana Gomez Salcido
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park, known for its expansive habitats featuring African and Asian species, will soon offer guests a view into the Land Down Under at the all-new Walkabout Australia. The immersive 3.6-acre Walkabout Australia habitat, featuring Australia’s interesting and unique species such as kangaroos, wallabies, cassowaries, wombats and more, opens May 25.
Walkabout Australia takes guests through four different types of Australian habitats: grassland, rainforest, wetlands and desert. Featured animals include western gray kangaroos, red-necked wallabies, brush turkeys, radjah shelducks, freckled ducks, magpie geese, double-wattled cassowaries, Matschie’s tree kangaroos, kookaburras, red-breasted cockatoos, echidnas, sugar gliders, and wombats.
Walkabout Australia represents Australia’s rural landscapes and the animals, plants and signs of human habitation encountered along backcountry roads. Walkabout Australia cost $17.4 million to build and is located at the base of the trail to Condor Ridge, adjacent to the Tull Family Tiger Trail.
“Australia is an extraordinary place, and we are thrilled to provide a snapshot of some of the wonders from Down Under at the all-new Walkabout Australia experience at the Safari Park,” said Lisa Peterson, San Diego Zoo Safari Park director. “Not only does Walkabout Australia allow us to connect people to Australia’s fascinating wildlife, but it adds another dimension to San Diego Zoo Global efforts to save endangered species, such as the cassowary and Matschie’s tree kangaroo.”
After strolling along a country road among Australian bottlebrush and eucalyptus trees, guests come upon a tumbledown stone house that welcomes them to the grassland. A pathway with no barriers will lead guests through an expansive meadow, home to a large group of western gray kangaroos, red-necked wallabies and brush turkeys. While guests are asked to stay on the pathway, the kangaroos and wallabies are welcome to get quite close to visitors, especially if they are feeling inquisitive. This unique opportunity is similar to experiences offered by zoos in Australia, which are a key part of their work to engage local communities in species preservation.
Outside Zuest Station, Walkabout Australia’s central gathering place, visitors will see the double-wattled cassowary. At five feet tall and 130 pounds, this prehistoric-looking bird is hard to miss as it rustles through the brush. Cassowaries are listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. Most tallies put the number of cassowaries remaining in Australia around 1,500 to 2,000. This flightless bird also will take part in a breeding program at the Safari Park dedicated to saving the species from extinction.
Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.