Australia Zoo - Tiger Walk
We went up to Brisbane on my birthday, so I decided to blow some Qantas Frequent Flyer points on an upgrade to business class. Sure, it's only a 90 minute flight, but it's my birthday and I'll fly (business class) if I want to. Maybe I've been infected with J-fever after the upgrade on our LAX-SYD flight coming home from Canada.
We spent Friday night at the Brisbane Marriott, which we managed to find after taking only one wrong turn on the way from the airport. It was an early start on Saturday as we had to be at Australia Zoo by 8am, and it was about 100km north of Brisbane. Thankfully it is mostly freeway between our hotel and the zoo, so we made it with plenty of time to spare (even with stopping at Maccas for breakfast).
Uniform of the day was jeans and a T-shirt, as long pants are required by the zoo for the tiger encounter. That might not sound unusual, however you must remember that it was mid-summer and we're only 5 degrees of latitude away from the topics. The staff didn't seem to know of the long pants rule, as they were all wearing shorts, and asked us why we had long pants on.. Thankfully we bought a change of clothes for after the tiger walk, as it got very warm.
We met up with out photographer (who had a Nikon, pfft.) and made our way over to the orchard where we would meet Ranu, a 3 year old male Sumatran Tiger. The walk basically consists of the four of us, the photographer, and three tiger handlers who walk behind Ranu. When he's had enough walking, he'll sit down and then we can pat him. He'll randomly decide to get up and start walking again, so we just calmly walk along behind him until he decides to sit again. I was taking photos the whole time, as was the zoo photographer.
This went on for about 45 minutes, then we said our goodbyes and Ranu was loaded into a van and taken back to the enclosure. At no time were we ever worried, he was just like a big kitten.
It was well worth the $550 for the 4 of us, which included entry to the zoo for the rest of the day. We spent the rest of the day looking at the various other animals at the zoo, and ended up at the Tiger enclosure in time for the afternoon show. Since it was so hot, the tigers just wanted to sit in the pool and cool off. Eventually I got down to the glass wall and managed to take my favourite photo of all time by pressing the big 400mm lens up against the glass (to cut down on the reflections). You can see the thumbnail above, and the full size photo is on the last page of the aust-zoo album.