Did you know that 3/4 of Australia is arid? Or that 60 mammal species have been lost in the last 100 years? I didn’t. When visiting Alice Springs, Colin of Vatu Sanctuary suggested that we ventured to Alice Springs Desert Park to learn more about the various species in the Outback. The Desert Park is part eco park, part zoo, part botanic garden (with rare or endangered plant species), and part educational.
After meeting our aboriginal guide Damien, we went to the Discovery Zone. The Discovery Zone is a combination of various bird enclosures, in turn producing the most beautiful of background noise. Our favorites were…
The Australian Ringneck Parrot. A parrot of spectacular color.
The Red-tailed Black Cockatoo. These cockatoos mate for life and have a long life span — 30 years in the wild, and 50 years in captivity!
The Western Bauer Bird. This was our personal favorite. These birds imitate the sound of other birds, which scares off its potential enemies.
We then went to the Nocturnal House where we saw our first Thorny Devil! These ant-eating lizards were absolutely fascinating. In order to stay alive, these lizards adapted spiny skin, camouflage, and a means of disguising their movement. Due to imminent threat, these creatures portray their brilliance when they drink water. Most animals and insects bend down to drink, succumbing to vulnerability, but the Thorny Devil doesn’t; the capillary effect allows gravity to be drawn upwards over the scales to the mouth, allowing the Thorny Devil to remain alert.
After passing by many scary-looking spiders that I hope never to encounter, we began learning about some endangered and extinct nocturnal animals. 5FT Fun Fact: Male bats have no parental instinct and will eat their children, so it’s better for baby bats to stay with the mother. While 60 mammal species have been lost in the last hundred years, many more are at risk; the ferrel cats cause the most destruction, but everyday cattle is the most destructive in Australia.
We then made our way to the Nature Theater. There, we watched a beautiful bird show. It was incredible to see how intelligent the birds were; despite being entirely in their own natural habitat, they were on cue every single time. While the show itself was impressive, I was most impressed at how well the workers treated the animals.
My favorite stop of Alice Springs Desert Park was the kangaroo area. I had finally gotten to see my first kangaroo! Unlike every other kangaroo enclosure, you are not allowed to feed the animals, as that would disturb their natural habitat and routine.
These kangaroos are not domesticated, and there is only one family so that male egos can’t cause any harm. The Desert Park’s kangaroo family consists of an alpha male, breeding female, and the young. You’re allowed to get extremely close to these kangaroos, but they’re completely uninterested in you. They don’t associate humans with food, and I applaud Desert Park for that notion.
Damien was nothing but informative throughout our entire two hour tour. Along the way he stopped to point out various bush plants that were used for food or healing purposes, and acknowledged the changes in landscapes through which we were driving. Rather than just using Alice Springs as a start and end point for your trip to Uluru, take a few hours and check out Alice Springs Desert Park!
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**Special thanks to Alice Springs Desert Park for sponsoring our experience. As always, all opinions are my own.