Located just north of the Adelaide CBD, the Adelaide Zoo is the country’s second oldest, opening in 1883. Housing close to 2,000 animals and 300 native and exotic species the zoo is unique in that it is also a botanic garden with exquisite landscaping. One particular item of interest in the gardens is a Moreton Bay Fig which was planted in 1877, before the zoo was even established.
The main focus of this extraordinary zoo is on endangered and rare animals from the continents that made up Gondwana – the super continent that once included Australia, South America, India and Africa and it is these regions that make up the zoo’s major exhibits. The zoo and gardens consist of 8 hectares and animal species range from exotic and native mammals to birds, reptiles and fish.
The zoo also features five historic structures which are listed on the Register of State Heritage Items and the City of Adelaide’s Register of Heritage Items. Four of these, including the main gate and entrance walls and the public entertainment venue The Rotunda all date back to the 1880’s. The Elephant House, built in 1900, blends Victorian and Indian styles in a unique enclosure reflecting the origins of the elephants housed there.
Just a 15 minute walk from the Adelaide CBD, the zoo and its exhibits offer a wonderful day out. The zoo is a tribute not only to animal care but to both Victorian preservation and modernisation. Several guided tours of the zoo are available including a ‘behind the scenes look’ or a free 30 minute ‘walkabout’ tour. Self-guided audio tours are also available and may be downloaded.