Where to meet the animals on our Hot List
Tayla O’Brien discovers who’s who in the world’s best zoos with the cool critters who are so hot right now.
Get in line boys and girls, these heart-throbs are oozing animal magnetism and are ready to give Kim Kardashian and Ryan Gosling a run for their money.
Jacky, Bali Zoo
Look out Ed Sheeran, iconic redhead Jacky the Bornean Orangutan is proving that age is just a number and, at 40 years of age, is looking better than ever, continuing to show off his devilish good looks in front of the camera. His secret? Jacky eats a balanced diet consisting of grapes, watermelon, peanut butter, dates, honey water, cinnamon leaves and boiled eggs and starts his day with plenty of exercise as he climbs to the top of his physical enrichment log at Bali Zoo.
After he finishes his exercise he likes to loll manfully in his hammock. Be careful though, if you wake him up he can get grumpy and may throw mud in your face. Jacky loves to entertain guests, but enjoys alone time in his one-bedroom man cave, and has no plans to welcome roommates.
Jacky is the star of Bali Zoo, which extends across 10 hectares in the art village of Singapadu, Bali, where visitors can meet more than 500 rare and exotic animals and participate in unique experiences that can only be found in Indonesia. The dining experiences are one-of-a-kind, as visitors have the opportunity to enjoy a delicious meal among the animals. You can visit Jacky at any time in his enclosure, which is situated in a prime location in the middle of the zoo.
Jae Jae and Melati, ZSL London Zoo
Ten year-old Sumatran Tigers Jae Jae and Melati are the William and Kate of the animal kingdom, Jae Jae partnering for love when he settled down with Melati at ZSL London Zoo. With his unique and eye-catching ruff of fur, handsome Jae Jae will be sure to capture your heart, too, with his adventurous personality. A bit of a show-off, he loves showcasing his climbing skills on his five-metre tall feeding pole. The intelligent and cautious Melati, with her feminine features, keeps the debonair Jae Jae grounded and together they are parents to Nakal, Budi, Cinta, Achilles and Karis.
Jae Jae and Melati’s palace is in ZSL London Zoo’s Tiger Territory, where you can get a glimpse into Jae Jae and Melati’s royal lifestyle in the Tigers Live! Experience. As one of the oldest and most loved zoos in the world, the Heritage-listed London Zoo is home to more than 720 other animal species and young animal lovers can take part in the 3.5-hour Junior Keeper for a Day experience.
Wang Wang and Fu Ni, Adelaide Zoo
Who needs Brad and Angelina? Giant Panda’s Wang Wang and Fu Ni are the hottest couple in the Southern Hemisphere. At 12 years old, Wang Wang is a laid-back charmer with a boy-next-door attitude, a crisp jawline and a broad nose, his masculine appearance makes him hot property in the animal world. Despite his manly presence, Wang Wang is a big softie, especially when it comes to cardboard boxes filled with sawdust, which he loves to roll around in. Wang Wang's wife Fu Ni is intelligent, playful and a trendsetter with her signature Mohawk-like cowlick in between her ears. Fu Ni was voted the second most popular panda outside of China and the way to her heart is through food, especially apple and pear panda cake.
You’re most likely to find Wang Wang and Fu Ni hanging out in the Panda Exhibit at Adelaide Zoo along with more than 2500 animals and 250 exotic and native species. Real die-hard fans can take part in a Wild Nights experience, which not only includes a sleepover at the zoo, but the chance to tour the Bamboo Forest the next morning during the Panda and Friends experience.
Mossman, Australia Zoo
At four metres long and weighing in at an impressive 500 kilograms, Saltwater Crocodile Mossman is the definition of the perfect man: tall, intelligent, strong and handsome. Mossman’s big features help him to stand out from the crowd and his powerful jaw and large teeth make for one hell of a smile. Cautious, cunning and calculating, Mossman may be a bit of a bad boy, but if he’s on your side you’ll have a protector for life. Best part of all? He’s single and ready to mingle!
Come and see this eligible bachelor in his home at Australia Zoo. Located on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast, Australia Zoo is an easy 45-minute drive north of Brisbane. It offers a wide range of animal encounters, zoo tours and an exclusive ‘Zoo Keeper for a Day’ school-holiday programme for four- to 15-year-olds. With the zoo being the home of the late Crocodile Hunter himself, there’s no doubt that the crocs are one of the most prized attractions and you’ll find Mossman and his friends in the Crocoseum.
Chawang, Singapore's Night Safari
Standing at three metres tall and weighing about 4.5 tonnes, 40-year-old bull elephant Chawang is the George Clooney of the elephant world, getting better with age. Chawang prides himself on his successful career as an ambassador for the endangered Asian elephant species as well as his contribution to the Singapore Night Safari’s breeding programme, where he has passed on his valuable genes to five offspring. Chawang is well cultured, and can speak more than one language including Sinhalese. He keeps in shape by maintaining a healthy diet consisting of leaves, hay and high-fibre pellets, but his guilty pleasures are fruit and sugar cane. Chawang is also an amazing cook and loves to mix up his food to create delicious meals. Breakfast ladies?
Admirers of Chawang can find him at Singapore’s Night Safari. Night Safari is part of the Wildlife Reserve Singapore Group, which includes Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park and River Safari. The Night Safari is the world’s first nocturnal zoo and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Singapore. Chawang was brought to Singapore Zoo after he was rescued as an orphan by Malaysian wildlife authorities, and soon after moved to his current home at the Night Safari, where he was crowned the attraction’s animal icon.
Asmara, Taronga Western Plains Zoo
If Asmara wasn’t so busy leaving visitors in awe at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, she would be strutting her long-legged stuff on the Victoria Secret runway alongside Kendall and Gigi. Asmara is the most identifiable giraffe in the zoo with her left half -horn and her amazing long tongue, which she loves to show off. Asmara has a beautiful soul to match her beautiful exterior, and is known for her gentle and inquisitive character. The mum of five, including newborn Zuberi, has managed to maintain her svelte physique in true star style.
Asmara was born and raised, and continues to reside at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo. The zoo is home to hundreds of animals from around the world who live throughout a unique 6-kilometre circuit through natural bushland and large openstyle exhibits to create a more authentic 'in the wild' experience for both animals and the visitors. For the ultimate zoofari experience, explore the zoo on board an electric cart or bike, and enjoy a meet-and-greet with in-demand Asmara and her friends.
This article appeared in volume 53 of Holidays with Kids magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.