This Way Out: Aussie “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin’s legacy continues in Australia Zoo
Ed. Note: Today seems like a good day to take a mental vacation, so why not head to Australia? EscapeHatch travel correspondent and Lowell Thomas Award winner April Orcutt heads Down Under with this report.
A wombat munches on ears of corn at the Australia Zoo in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast in Australia.
A massive crocodile jumps half its body length out of the water in the Crocoseum show at the Australia Zoo in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast in Australia.
Giraffes nibble grain while waiting for guests to feed them grass at the Australia Zoo in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast in Australia.
Australian “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, lives on in Oz. The daring Aussie conservationist and television entertainer – who earned fame tempting massive crocodiles by dangling raw chickens and fish in front of them – and his wife, Terri, owned the Australia Zoo, located 45 miles north of Brisbane in Queensland along Australia’s Sunshine Coast. After Steve met his untimely demise by swimming too close to a stingray, Terri kept the zoo and its 1,200 animals going – and she’s kept the live watch-the-giant-crocodile-chase-and-snatch-the-fish act going in the zoo’s Crocoseum. Yup, those 12-foot-long crocs do jump straight up out of the water. Gulp.
But the zoo has a gentler, more family-friendly, interactive side. Not only does it work on both conservation and taking care of sick or injured animals, it’s also one of the few zoos where guests can touch many of the critters. Visitors have photos taken with a much more manageable baby croc. The Crocoseum is the spot for the free-flight bird show, too. Guests can also hold koalas, feed carrots to giraffes, laugh at a wombat sloppily munching an ear of corn, watch an Australian echidna or spiny anteater chow down on dinner, or ride the “African Safari Shuttle” through open savannah to see zebras and rhinos. You can even watch a trained staff member dribble milk from a milk carton into the mouth of a standing tiger. Indeed, the wild spirit of Steve Irwin lives on.
Australia Zoo, 1638 Steve Irwin Way, Beerwah, Queensland, Australia. Photos: April Orcutt