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Exploring Perth Zoo

The Perth Zoo has changed a lot since I was a kid. I loved it then, of course, especially seeing Tricia the elephant - who’s still going strong at 57, and has daily walks around the entire grounds - but looking back, there was too much concrete and too many bars. These days, it is a far more delightful place for the animals and an even more enjoyable destination for families.

Whenever my son persuades me to take him to the Perth Zoo - which is pretty often - we head first for the most distance point, the gibbons. They are at the top of a pretty steep hill, a little challenging with a pram, but once you've made it, the rest of the zoo is either downhill or flat. I can understand his attraction to the gibbons, because there's an enormous window overlooking their enclosure and they often come up face-to-face with you.

The zoo is divided into three main sections: the Asian Rainforest, the African Savannah and the Australian Bushwalk. Each section has its own special feel and the Australian area is especially nice because you can walk right through an open area which is home to kangaroos and other friendly locals. I must confess, though, my son's not so keen. He still holds a grudge against the kangaroo that snuck its head into our bag and ate his sultanas when we weren't looking.

Over the years, more special activities have been set up and there's quite a timetable of events each day. The elephant trainers in particular always hold interesting shows and they vary them so there's always something new to see and learn. If you don't see Tricia strolling the footpaths, you might see one of the younger elephants doing a painting!

Set in lush gardens, with shade covering pretty much every walkway, the Perth Zoo is even a comfortable place to go on a hot day in summer. The main playground has been refurbished recently and my son and his friends love to strip off and play in the water play area, which is another great way to beat a high temperature.

Finding the Perth Zoo is easy, as it's just south of the centre of the city. A popular way to get there is to catch the ferry from the city straight across the Swan River, and then it's a short walk to the zoo - you just need to follow the crowds to the entrance, but once you get inside, the zoo grounds are big enough that you can feel nearly alone. Just watch out for the enormous crocodile, on his own in a large exhibit space - rumour has it he's alone because he kept eating his girlfriends.

Amanda Kendle is a born and bred Perth girl who loves to hang around with her rubbish-truck-loving four-year-old son. Amanda has lived and worked abroad in Asia and Europe and has been blogging about her travels at home and abroad for almost a decade at Not A Ballerina.

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