Want to feed a Southern White Rhinoceros? Or how about getting arty with an Elephant!? Get ‘up close and personal’ with the remarkable animals at Perth Zoo when you book an Animal Close Encounter! Here’s how.
Visit Perth Zoo – Unique Animal Experiences
A trip to Perth Zoo always makes for a fun, memorable and unique ‘day out’ in Perth, whether you are a traveler passing through, or a proud local hosting visitors. From singles to families, to teenagers and the elderly – no matter your age or background – everybody can positively benefit from spending a day out in nature, and learning all about the magnificent animals that we share our planet with. Not to mention the great night sleep that follows after all that exercising!
Built on 41-acre (17 ha) zoological park nestled within the leafy river-side suburb of South Perth, Perth Zoo first opened in 1898 and since then, has come along way in terms of its physical expansion and quality advancement, as well as its growing botanical collection, increased number of species, breeding programs, and global wildlife conservation efforts. Its three main zones showcase innovative engineering, Australian Walkabout, Asian Rainforest and African Savannah (with few minor exhibit areas Lesser Primates, South American birds, Main Lake, Galapagos Tortoises) have all been designed to mimic the animals’ natural habitats, improve animal welfare, and allow for passive observation (or interaction!).As an animal lover, knowledge seeker and all-rounder enthusiast for finding spontaneous activities to do – a visit to the Perth Zoo always puts a smile on my face, as I’m sure it will do on yours… especially if you opt to do a ‘Close Encounter’ experience with one of their many wonderful animals.
That’s right – there’s more to Perth Zoo then just simply purchasing the entry ticket and observing the animals from a distance. For an add-on cost (subject to availability), you can pay to have close encounters (or be ‘keeper for a day’) with Giraffes, Lions, Reptiles, Australian animals, Penguins, Galapagos Tortoises, the Dingo, Orangutans, Lemurs, Bull Elephants, Red Pandas, Otters and even a southern white rhinoceros!
Feeding a Southern White Rhinoceros at Perth Zoo
It wasn’t until I met a Southern White Rhinoceros face-to-face, that I realised what an ironic contradiction they really are!
Though this two tonne worth of leathery, horned muscle may appear intimidating, but this giant creature is actually a docile teddy bear – and is one of the most gentlest creatures in the animal kingdom. Southern White Rhinos are also known as square-lipped rhinoceros, due to their square (not pointed) upper lip. Fun fact, their name actually comes from the Afrikaans word “weit”, which means wide and refers to the animal’s muzzle.
For our white rhino encounter, we had the privilege of taking turns feeding and touching ‘Memphis’ – the charismatic, exceptionally photogenic and voluptuously handsome Southern White Rhinoceroses at Perth Zoo.
‘Memphis’ arrived at Perth Zoo from Memphis Zoo in 1989 as part of a coordinated breeding program to help save his species, which are near threatened to extinction because of black market demand for their horns. Memphis has been part of many fundraising campaigns over the years to raise awareness on his species plight.
To be honest, I did not know what quite to expect when feeding a rhino – I thought it would be an angsty sort of animal, huffing and puffing, and stamping his feet and making rhino sound effects. But no, Memphis was as docile and meek as they come, like an obedient oversized Golden Retriever.
Despite his hefty weight, he surprised me with being rather nimble and ‘springy’ on his feet too! And he was very accommodating with all of us strangers, munching away on the vegetation with his vacuum-style mouth. He also loves a good scratch!
Take a look at my Instagram video below of the interaction.
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Memphis’ temperament is so remarkable that he even lived with his son for 10 years, which is said to be quite unusual for two male rhinos getting along in close proximity. With all this being said, it made our group quite sad to think these beautiful gentle creatures are illegally targeted and killed for their horns – horns of which are made from Keratin – the same ingredient found in our fingernails! So unnecessary, isn’t it.
Not only did we get to feet and touch ‘Memphis’, we also got to tour their “night quarters” to see firsthand where these gentle giants creatures spend their evenings.
This Close Encounter with a Rhino was exceptional – I mean, how often can you say “I fed and touched a Rhinoceros today” as a gentle sentence in life? But of course, there is more substance to this close encounter tour than just that.
When you do a ‘behind-the-scenes’ tour like this at Perth Zoo, you not only learn about the animals, but you gain more respect and appreciation for their species and their respective Keepers, whom are genuinely passionate and dedicated to caring for all the animals here. Perth Zoo Keepers form very special connections and bonds with these animals.
And like all the other animals living at Perth Zoo, Memphis acts as an ambassador to raise awareness for his wild cousins who face unprecedented pressure of individuals killing them for their horns to sell on the black market. By visiting Perth Zoo and booking a ‘close encounter’ with Memphis, you will help conserve rhino to stay around for generations to come.
Know that your money spent at Perth Zoo goes towards Perth Zoo’s numerous conservation efforts, such as their support for the Asian Rhino Project which helps to safeguard the critically endangered Sumatran Rhinoceros, where as few as 200 individuals remain on the planet.
Want to feed Memphis too? Click here to view times, cost and booking information on the Rhino Close Encounter.
Please note that duration of the experience is 20 minutes, maximum group size is 6 people, minimum age is 8 years, and all children aged 8-15 must have an encounter ticket and be accompanied by an adult encounter ticket holder (16+).
Feeding Giraffes at Perth Zoo
If the thought of feeding a Southern White Rhinoceros is a little too ‘out there’ for you or your family – then you cannot go wrong with the very family-friendly experience of feeding the Giraffes at Perth Zoo.
Feeding Giraffes at Perth Zoo is one of the more affordable close encounters to choose from out of all the animals, and is an extremely popular choice for young children who are learning all about the magic of the animals and the Zoo. Given it’s affordable with many schedule times on offer throughout the day, my partner and I also added the Giraffes onto our itinerary! It was a real fun experience, especially when the Bull came over!
See some of our happy snaps below – where the bull got a little too – ahem, affectionate with me…
Want to feed Giraffes too? Click here to view times, cost and booking information on the Giraffe Close Encounter.
Here’s some more happy snaps from our day at Perth Zoo!
I had a great day out at Perth Zoo and saw plenty of exciting animals, but there were still a number of animals that I did not get to see, such as the Australian Southern-Nosed Wombat and Porcupine – both of which must have been napping out of the viewers’ view. Ah well, next time!
ABOUT PERTH ZOO & BOOKINGS
Support Perth Zoo knowing that your visit (and any subsequent donations) will benefit the continual improvement of Perth Zoo, and all its tiresome wildlife conservation efforts.
It is recommended that you allow at least half-a-day to see everything at Perth Zoo if you have time constraints. However, if you can go the full day, then that is more ideal – because as you can see from this action-packed Perth Zoo Map, there are many exciting exhibits, animals and animal talks on offer for visitors to Perth Zoo to catch throughout the day. So, why rush? Take a well deserved day off!
THANKS FOR READING!
Obligatory couples selfie in front of the Perth City Skyline 🙂