A safari in your own backyard! Monarto "Zoo" is certainly not a zoo in any conventional sense of the word. The "enclosures are vast paddocks and the animals enjoy almost as much freedom as they would in the wild, as well as being utterly safe from poachers. Monarto has a small but growing pride of lions, and a couple of young females were close enough to the viewing platform for us to get some terrific pictures.
In fact, there are so many wonderful pictures to share on this post, most of them have been pasted in as thumbnails. If you'd like to see them at full size, just click them: everything is big; we just can't display them large, or this page would be ten yards long!
...at this point the lions meandered away to a patch of shade beyond the reach of cameras, so it was time to hop back on the bus, for a ride to the next part of the park:
|Ride the bus around Monarto: very handy ... you buy one ticket at the gate, and then hop on and off the bus at whim, |
stopping as long as you like at any one "paddock."
|Hunting dogs: faaar away, at the extreme range of telephoto, and on the other side of a fence. Dang. But at least we got pictures... everyone else had left the area! Patience is rewarded.|
|Monarto's paddocks are connected by walkways to the main bus routes. There's a lot of walking involved, even if you do |
hop on the bus the whole time. Wear your walking shoes ... and a hat. Shade is rare, and it can be very hot indeed.
Giraffes at Luncheon...
|Giraffes ... with femme fatal eyelashes, and eyeliner. They really are beautiful.|
Below: other views in the Giraffe Paddock, which those tall folks share with some bovines whose horns are ... epic. These are eland and kudu. In fact, the bus will swing you through several vast "enclosures" where you really could believe you were on the savannah ... except for the fact those are eucalypts in the background rather than the acacias one would actually expect in Africa...
Now, we'll take the bus through herds of bovines ... the herbivores are separated out from the lions by tall fences and distance, naturally. Stock feed comes in by truck for the animals, since -- as you can see at a glance -- they "eat out" the graze immediately. (What are the lions eating? One almost hesitates to ask, but we could make a few rather unfortunate guesses. What else can you do?)
|And in the background, behind the bus, yes: an ostrich, not an emu!|
Meerkats on sentry duty ... and at play!
|There's only one word you could use to sum up meerkats...|
|The word is, CUTE!|
|Back on the road, leaving Monarto and headed for Murray Bridge, Langhorne, Milang, Goolwa ...|
The park is enormously rewarding though the ticket price is quite high, as you'd expect. Be prepared to do a LOT of walking; do put on your walking shoes and take a hat because you'll be in the sun a great deal and it's almost certainly going to be hot, unless you brave the mud in the middle of winter!
Here's what Wikipedia says of Monarto:
Monarto Zoological Park (also known as the Monarto Zoo) is a 1,500-hectare (3,700-acre) open range zoo located in South Australia administered by the Royal Zoological Society of South Australia Incorporated (trading as Zoos SA). It is located at Monarto approximately 70 kilometres (43 mi) from Adelaide's centre.
The zoo features several unique attractions, including a drive-through cheetah habitat, a southern
white rhinoceros habitat, and Australia's largest giraffe herd. It is also home to South Australia's largest revegetation project. As of 2015 Monarto zoo has achieved one of the most successful giraffe breeding programs in Oceania.
We enjoyed it enormously -- would recommend it, and will doubtlessly do it again one day. But as the shadows were lengthening it was time for us to hit the road again. We had a long way to go, and another day in which to do it!
Next time: Murray Bridge, Langhorne and Milang in the morning light...