With a huge range of resident critters, from native Australian animals to exotic species, the National Zoo & Aquarium in Canberra has plenty for wildlife lovers to get excited about. In addition to housing Australia’s most extensive collection of big cats, it also has the largest inland saltwater tank in the country.
General admission includes full access to the zoo and aquarium, but those wanting to learn more can choose from a range of guided tours. Zooventure tours and Walk on the Wildside tours offer a behind-the-scenes look at the running of the zoo, along with various animal encounters and interactive experiences, always under supervision from experienced handlers. It’s also possible to stay overnight at the Jamala Wildlife Lodge, located within the zoo grounds.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Lines can be long, especially in peak season, so it’s best to book your tickets in advance.
- On-site facilities include a café, gift shops, and picnic and barbecue areas.
- The zoo is fully wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
The National Zoo & Aquarium is located 5.5 miles (9 kilometers) west of downtown Canberra. The easiest way to get there is by private transport or taxi, but public buses also run from the Civic Centre.
When to Get There
The National Zoo & Aquarium is open daily all year, and it’s worth planning your visit around the daily zookeeper talks and feeding demonstrations. The busiest times to visit are during peak summer season (December to January) and school holidays, so if you want to avoid the crowds, opt for a midweek visit outside of these times.
Wildlife Sightings at the National Zoo & Aquarium
Most visitors make a beeline for the big cats, which include Bengal and Sumatran tigers, cheetahs, lions, servals, and snow leopards. Other highlights include brown bears, red pandas, and Malaysian sun bears. There are also plenty of opportunities to see native Australian animals like koalas, wallabies, emus, and Tasmanian devils. At the aquarium, look out for penguins, alligators, and sharks, plus unusual fish species such as humphead Maori wrasse and South American pacu.