Monarto Zoo is a 1,500 hectare open range sanctuary (one of the largest open range zoos in the world) with internationally renowned breeding programs for rare and endangered species.
Explore Monarto Zoo on the Zu-loop shuttle bus
At the zoo, you can travel on the Zu-loop shuttle bus service or via the walking tracks, to experience Monarto Zoo at your own leisure. The Zu-loop transports you to the various wildlife viewing platforms where you can disembark at each bus stop to view the wildlife and meet with one of their informative guides or zoo keepers.
The Zu-loop shuttle departs regularly from the Visitor Centre and can be re-boarded from each of the bus stops located near each viewing platform. There is no need to book on the Zu-loop shuttle, it operates as a hop on, hop off basis. Strollers are permitted on the bus (look for the ‘stroller friendly’ sign on the bus window). Strollers will need to be folded whilst travelling on the bus.
World class chimpanzee enclosure
On our visit to Monarto we started the day by going straight to the world class Chimpanzee enclosure, a short walk from the Visitors Centre. As luck would have it, being there early (just after 10am) meant that it was quiet and we were just about the only people there. Lucky for us, the zookeeper happened to be free and came out to talk to us about the chimpanzees.
Before we left in the afternoon, the kids were keen to visit them again. This time it was during the scheduled zookeeper talk and there were many people there. The day we visited it was quite hot so the chimps were not keen to be in the outdoor enclosure, prefering to stay indoors. With expansive glass around this area you can get right up close and watch all their antics, which we all loved.
At the Carnivore enclosure we chose to hop on the Carnivore shuttle bus instead of walking out to the viewing platform (which is a great option if the weather is warm and the kids are a little tired). From the comfort of our air-conditioned bus we were able to get right up close to the wild dogs and lions – such an amazing experience.
NEW IN 2017 – LIONS 360!
The new Lions 360 Experience, modeled on the popular Great White Shark diving experience, will allow visitors to take the walk of the brave through a tunnel and emerge within clawing range of one of Australia’s largest lion prides. You can read more about plans for the Monarto Zoo Predator Experience in our previous post here. The new Lions 360 will be open from 18 November 2017.
Seeing Monarto Zoo on foot
Monarto’s network of walking tracks can be incorporated with the Zu-loop shuttle service for those visitors keen to also do some walking between viewing platforms. It may not be a suitable option for young children as there is a bit of walking involved already, but older kids may like the experience. If your children love buses like mine, it is an adventure in itself getting on and off a variety of different buses throughout the day.
The guides we met on the buses are volunteers and seriously do an amazing job. There are around 500 volunteers involved with Zoos SA (across both Adelaide and Monarto Zoos combined)! They give you loads of interesting facts while being entertaining and friendly.
The zookeepers we met along the way who gave talks on the animals at each stop were also very informative, easy to understand and obviously passionate about their jobs. They were also more than happy to answer any questions.
During the talks the animals feed right near the viewing platforms so you can get up nice and close. It’s a good spot to take photos – especially scenes such as witnessing the giraffe’s blue tongue as he reaches for a carrot!
Monarto Zoo Visitors Centre
The Visitors Centre has a gift shop and a cafe with a great range of snacks, meals and drinks. You can also bring along your own picnic lunch to enjoy at the outdoor tables.
An important tip – be sure to bring drinks and snacks to nibble on inbetween getting on and off the bus as you tour the zoo. Bear in mind that the little ones may find it difficult to sit through all the talks – we found having a variety of snacks and letting them explore the natural setting helped.
Tips for your visit to Monarto Zoo
If you haven’t been to the Monarto Zoo lately or ever before, it really is worth a visit. Our kids did not want to leave! On their website the Monarto Zoo recommend allowing a minimum of 4-5 hours. I read this before our trip and thought that sounded too long, but seriously, our 5 hours there flew by and we didn’t even see everything. It really is a great South Australian asset which is wonderful to support as they do an amazing job with the animals.
For details on how to get there see map info here. Don’t forget to take hats, sunscreen and water bottles especially if it’s a warm day. There is little shade walking out to some of the viewing platforms.
For further information please see the Monarto Zoo website.
What: Monarto Zoo
When: Open Daily from 9.30 am – 5 pm
Where: Monarto Zoo | Old Princess Highway, Monarto South (view map)
All images by Play & Go Adelaide 2012.
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