WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo review
Located in the heart of the city, WILD LIFE Sydney is the most accessible of Sydney's zoos. But how does it stack up otherwise?
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WILD LIFE SYDNEY ZOO: Quick Verdict
WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo is fantastic for meeting Australia's native animals. It's easy to get to and is ideal for rainy days as it's primarily indoors. Young families will love WILD LIFE Sydney as it's relatively small and can be completed in an hour. It's also a nice option for a short date.
- Location: 1-5 Wheat Road, Sydney
- Opening hours: Thursdays to Mondays from 10am-4pm
- Ticket price: $46 adults, $33 children. Book online to get 20% off
- Ticket includes: Entry and digital photo pass
- Family friendly? Yes, uses ramps and minimal stairs
- Reviewer: Couple in their 30s
Pros and Cons
- All Australian animals
- Highly accessible, being in the CBD
- Mostly covered, making it great for rainy days
- Good short activity for kids or those on a time limit
- Due to its size, it could be disappointing for anyone looking to spend a full day at the zoo
- Keeper talks are digital due to COVID
- Some exhibits may be closed for maintenance
Whether you're a Sydneysider or a visitor, you'll likely have wandered past WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo at some point.
Located in Darling Harbour under the Pyrmont Bridge walkway, it's one of three attractions that offer Australian-themed entertainment and fun in the heart of the city. The other two are the SEA LIFE Aquarium and the wax museum Madame Tussauds.
But if you're after a close encounter with the Aussie Big Five (koala, kangaroo, wombat, platypus and the saltwater crocodile) and other local creatures, WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo is the place to be.
My husband and I were invited to spend some time at the zoo over a sunny Sydney weekend and here's what I thought.
WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo review
On the outside, WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo doesn't look like much. It's a giant white building on the edge of the water. But after visiting it I have to admit this zoo has a lot going for it.
First up, it's super central, making it an easy day out particularly if you're a visitor staying in the heart of the city.
It also features only Australian animals which sets it apart from Taronga Zoo and the new Sydney Zoo, which are focused on large animals from around the world.
Being a smaller venue compared to Taronga and Sydney Zoo means that you don't have to dedicate a full day to it, either. Personally we spent an hour there which gave us the rest of the day to enjoy the harbour.
However, if you're planning to add on extras like a Koala Encounter, lunch at the cafe or if you have tykes to wrangle, two hours is ample time to cover it all.
What to expect
You'll begin by taking a photo in front of a green screen and being given a card with a QR code on it. Keep hold of this as at the end of the experience you can use it to get your pics printed out. Or, you can access them digitally at home.
After winding up a few ramps, you'll find yourself sky-high in the building surrounded by animal exhibits.
At each and every turn you'll meet familiar creatures.
I loved the Tasmanian devils which were super-cute and sleeping in the sunlight, and the spinifex hopping mice which were springing about like crazy.
The cassowary was a fun addition that kept looping between windows, causing visitors to run from window to window trying to catch its eye.
Of the sea creatures, the platypus was a welcome surprise as it was active and submerging itself in the water.
The saltwater crocodile was also an impressive sight. At 4.2 metres, this giant of the waters was happy to regale its visitors by swimming and diving in its pool of water.
My only disappointment was that a few of the interactive experiences weren't available.
When we visited, the Kangaroo Walkabout which is an open space where you can walk amongst kangaroos, an emu and quokka without screens was closed as it was welcoming new arrivals.
The Crocodile Encounter which is a crawl space that brings you into the crocodile's den was also blocked.
Yes, you could still peep through the windows to see the animals, but it wasn't the same. While this was disappointing, I understand that temporarily closed exhibits are simply a reality of zoos.
Moral of the story? If you're keen on these experiences, check with the zoo first to confirm they're open before buying your ticket.
What's different because of COVID?
Now, being in COVID times, social distancing was in place and we had to book a time slot to get in. This was a bonus as it meant the zoo felt extremely spacious and we never had to compete with others to view each creature.
A negative to this though is that keeper talks have been removed. In their place are digital talks which you can tap into on your phone. Yes, there are still keepers roaming the complex whom you can stop to ask questions but having nothing official on top of the reduced visitor numbers made the zoo feel a little lifeless.
Extras you can book
At the end of the zoo is the koala rooftop where you can dine surrounded by koalas sleeping in their trees.
It's also where you can book a Koala Encounter which enter the koala enclosure and take a commemorative next to them. This is an extra $71 on the day or $61.80 when booked online and can be shared with a group of four.
I didn't choose this option as I've done it before at another zoo. However, I highly recommend it as a unique experience and a chance to see these cuddly bears up close.
Should I visit WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo?
If you're an animal lover and want to spend a few hours meeting some of Australia's most iconic critters, WILD LIFE Sydney won't disappoint. It has everything from amphibians and reptiles to marsupials and monotremes, most of which are active during the day.
However, if you'd like to meet a wider variety of animals or are searching for a full day's worth of activities, it might be better to add SEA LIFE Aquarium to your agenda. Or, to visit one of Sydney's larger zoos.
Frequently asked questions
- How do I get to WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo? WILD LIFE Sydney is a short walk from Town Hall and Wynyard train stations and is moments from the Barangaroo Ferry Wharf.
- Is there parking? Wilson Parking has several parking garages nearby. The closest are 100 Murray Street (Harbourside), Citipark Car Park and Darling Park Carpark. They all offer online discounts. When we visited we only had to pay $5 for a full day's parking at Darling Park.
- How long do I need at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo? Set aside 1-2 hours to make your way through the zoo.
- Is WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo good for kids? Yes. Children of all ages are welcome. The zoo has minimal stairs which makes it accessible for prams. Being a smaller zoo, it's large enough to keep them entertained but not so large that it'll tire them out halfway.
- How is WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo being COVIDSafe? The zoo is limiting visitors in line with health and safety advice. Due to this, all visitors must book a date and time slot. You can wear a face mask however, this is not required. Physical distancing markings and sanitisation stations are prevelant while keeper talks have been removed to reduce overcrowding. In their place are digital talks.
Stephanie visited WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo as a guest of the zoo.
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