12 May, 2024

Up close at new city zoo

THE zoo within the city has returned. Cairns Koalas and Creatures has opened at The Pier shopping centre.

By Nick Dalton

Cairns Koalas and Creatures wildlife keeper Emilie Servage with a carpet python. Picture: The CaPTA Group
Cairns Koalas and Creatures wildlife keeper Emilie Servage with a carpet python. Picture: The CaPTA Group

Following the closure of the CaPTA Group’s Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome last year – due to much-needed maintenance required at The Reef Hotel Casino venue – the tourism operator was determined to open another fauna centre in the CBD.   

Cairns Koalas and Creatures involves “a captivating exploration spanning from the enchanting Great Barrier Reef to the tranquil mangroves, lush rainforests, sprawling woodlands, and finally, the rugged Outback”. 

The original Woodlands Exhibit –  in place since October of last year – highlights Australia’s distinctive woodland creatures and sheds light on the challenges they encounter in their native habitats.

Also on show are resident koalas Birra, Pavlova, and Nellie, as well as snakes, and other reptiles, birds such as Pacific emerald dove, rose-crowned fruit-dove, noisy pitta and rainbow lorikeet among others. There is also a large reef tank.

The $650,000 project was funded with $163,000 from the Queensland Government’s Tourism Experience Development Fund.

CaPTA Group sales and marketing director Ben Woodward said the new experience showcased the incredible biodiversity of tropical north Queensland. 

“From iconic koalas to vibrant reef fish, our attraction offers an up-close encounter with some of the region’s most beloved wildlife,” he said.  

Group general manager Andrew Hearn said that the mission of the attraction was, not only to entertain, but also to educate visitors about the importance of conservation and sustainability. “Through engaging exhibits and interactive experiences, we aim to inspire a deeper appreciation for the natural world and empower guests to become more responsible and conscious of the environments we live in,” he said.  

Tourism Minister and Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the city’s newest attraction would be a fantastic drawcard.

“The CaPTA Group has a great track record of creating new products and new tourism offerings in the Far North,” he said. “Visitors can now cuddle a koala and take a selfie with a blue-tongue lizard.”


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