A key attraction of Australia is the native animals. Australia is home to a huge variety of animals that don’t exist naturally anywhere else in the world. Zoos around the world have kangaroos and koala habitats, but very few places offer the up close and personal experience to see and learn about the wide variety of Australia’s native animals that the Healesville Sanctuary provides.
The Healesville Sanctuary offers opportunities to see almost every imaginable Australian animal through very unique habitats and exhibits. However, one of the key features of the sanctuaries, separating it from the average zoo is explained in their mission statement – “we are a not-for-profit conservation organization dedicated to fighting wildlife extinction. We do this through breeding and recovery programs for threatened species and by working with visitors and supporters to reduce threats facing endangered wildlife.”
Since a major focus of the sanctuary is conservation of threatened wildlife, there are also many opportunities to see truly unique and rare creatures; the majority I didn’t even know existed. Have you ever seen a Leadbeater’s Possum (a.k.a. a forest fairy)? Neither had I until visiting Healesville. Now they are one of the most adorable creatures I have ever seen and it breaks my heart knowing that if it weren’t for places like the Healesville Sanctuary, these adorable little creatures wouldn’t exist. They were thought to have gone extinct, but were rediscovered in 1961 and Healesville is now one of the leading institutions helping to reintroduce and repopulate them back in the wild. Here is an informative video from the sanctuary about the possums and their program to help save them.
Located an hour away from downtown Melbourne, Healesville is not a difficult destination to get to. A big draw for many tourists is taking a picture holding one of Australia’s most notorious and cutest animals – the koala. Although it is illegal to hold a koala in Victoria, the Healesville Sanctuary still offers many opportunities to get up close and personal with a lot of the animals. Highlights include: playing with dingo puppies, walking amongst and feeding kangaroos, holding exotic birds, and petting lizards.
Another positive of the sanctuary focusing on conserving and reintroducing species is the number of baby animals they have. A key part of repopulation is babies; the more babies the better, which creates unreal opportunities to see some adorable little animals. Also, many of the animals have been rescued and for the majority of their lives are deemed unfit to be returned to the wild and therefore live in the sanctuary because of this, which means that their babies also live on the sanctuary. Regardless, there are heaps of babies and it is fantastic.
The sanctuary isn’t all about cute. There is also a menagerie of some of Australia’s most infamous poisonous and peculiar creatures including a host of snakes and spiders, platypuses, and Tasmanian devils. It also has one of the most incredible live bird shows that I have ever seen, which shows off some of Australia’s most beautiful and clever feathered species.
My favorite parts of my day at the Healesville Sanctuary, apart from discovering Leadbeater’s Possums, were definitely seeing my first platypus and the koala habitat. The sanctuary offers a very impressive and informative habitat for koalas, which allowed me to watch them being fed and ask questions of the keepers who have raised the animals since rescuing them. I also got to see a baby koala poke its little head out of its mother’s pouch, which was pretty off the charts on the cuteness scale.
The Healesville Sanctuary is a truly noble institution that provides a great way to spend the day, offering some of the worlds most unique, adorable, and dangerous creatures up close.