We spent the whole day today at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, just a short drive north of town. We got there early in the morning for the first event of the day, just as the park opened: the lorikeet feeding.
Evidently, the man that used to own the property would feed the wild lorikeets every morning, and the park kept it up when they bought the place. Wild lorikeets fly in by the hundreds every morning to participate. It's just sweetened milk, so it's nothing they can develop a dependence on, but it's still a nice treat and very fun to watch.
After that, we rode a little train to the other side of the park for the early morning kangaroo feeding. It was awesome. The whole park has these gated enclosures, and once you're inside, animals are roaming free there. We were in a meadow (with lots of trees and a stream) with about 40 free kangaroos. MAN they were cool. Some of them were hopping about and chasing each other in a low-key sort of way. Some were lolling around on their sides. Most of the little joeys were still sleepy and were slumped inside the mom's pouches, tail and back legs sticking out. There were even some emus stalking around. The attendants there talked to us for a while and answered questions, then gave us handfuls of pellets for the roos to eat.
One thing I really liked was that there were areas of the enclosures roped off against people, so the roos had a place to hang out without people bothering them.
After that, we just wandered. There were lots of informational talks scheduled at certain times for certain animals, so I tried so catch as many of those as possible. I caught the one for the wombats, although the wombats there were all underground. I caught the one for the koalas and the one for the dingoes, which were really beautiful. I went to the Tasmanian devil enclosure with Dee and Bob and we actually saw one roaming around. I saw the saltwater crocodiles ("Salties") and Dee and I went to a huge caged enclosure for tropical birds (and I finally snapped a picture of two wild kookaburras just outside). We saw the tree kangaroos and the cassowaries, which were MUCH bigger and MUCH more intimidating than I had ever imagined.
Dee and I paid a little extra to go on a behind-the-scenes tour, which was fun. I stroked an emu on the way in and found its feathers much more coarse than I had imagined, but he didn't mind. The main wildlife area had an echidna enclosure with one echidna in it, which was buried in leaves, asleep. The behind-the-scenes enclosure had eleven echidnas in it, and they were all awake and waddling around. It was so much fun. There was a volunteer inside watching over them, and one little echidna was doing the best he could to climb inside this guys's shoe. If the man tried to walk, the echidna just dragged behind him.
We got to go in the food prep area, and watched an operation in the clinic from behind an outside door (and I spied a really cool golden spider in the bushes). We saw a female koala and her newborn baby, being kept in isolation for a little while for peace and quiet. We also stopped by a trailer where all the cool insects and spiders were kept, many of which were passed around. This is the biggest stickbug I've ever seen.
Dee and I went back to the main park after that and went to a very entertaining bird show, the nocturnal house and reptile house (with the most poisonous snakes in the world), and walked through some smaller bird enclosures and finally spotted a captive whipbird, whose calls we'd enjoyed for weeks, but had never actually seen the bird. The neat thing about this one is that it sounds like a single call, but the male actually makes the first half, and the female responds with the whipcrack. Check it out.
I want to spend all my subsequent birthdays here.