AUSTRALIA ZOO, HOME OF CROC HUNTER IRWIN
News Source: The Jakarta Post, April 2005
By: Rendi A. Witular
A visit to Queensland would be incomplete without stopping in at the Australia Zoo in Beerwah home of renowned crocodile hunter Steve Irwin.
The zoo, only 45 minutes north of Brisbane, is now home to over 750 animals on over 50 acres, and is recognized internationally for its conservation efforts.
Last year, the zoo, formerly called the Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park, received the Australian Tourism Award for excellence in the category of Major Tourist Attraction.
At its entrance, visitors will be astonished by the giant picture of top-hair, gap-toothed Irwin wrestling one of the reptiles, a pose often seen on his very own Crocodile Hunter show on Animal Planet.
The zoo’s main attraction is the crocodile hand-feeding show, often performed by Steve or his wife Terri Raines (but hopefully not with their young son, after all the controversy early this year). The show features a giant hungry saltwater crocodile, which creeps along to grab at the meat held out by Irwin and his crew.
The saltwater crocodile has been known to kill and consume humans in Australia, although the freshwater crocodile is harmless to people.
You will be on the edge of your seat during the performance at the 5,000 capacity Crocoseum, nervously wondering if the crocodile will launch a strike.
The crocodiles, along with other animals in the Zoo, were captured by Irwin and his crew from the world’s most remote wilderness areas.
Irwin is proud to boast that every crocodile in the park, now numbering some 100 animals, was wither caught by his bare hands or bred at the zoo.
The zoo is also home to several of the world’s oldest living Galapagos tortoises. Lucky visitors will have the chance to pat the amazing Harriet a 190-year-old tortoise.
It’s also possible to feel the sensation of “getting a hug” from a giant python, or feed the three beautiful Asian elephants.
Australia Zoo opened its doors to the public in April 1973 and became a family business. In 1991, Irwin’s parents bob and Lyn retired, turning over the management to their son.
In 1992, a television producer gave the younger Irwin the opportunity to show his diverse animal talents to the world though his first documentary, The Crocodile Hunter.
The success of the program quickly encouraged the producer to make more episodes for the program. Irwin has now filmed over 50 episodes of Crocodile Hunter and 52 episodes of Croc Files.