Here in South Australia, we are home to Australia’s largest open range zoo. If you’d like to come and see some of the most interesting animals, both native and exotic, then you should certainly visit Monarto Zoo. It is home to over 50 different species, spread out over the 1500 acre zoo. Monarto Zoo is an amazing place to take the kids during the school holidays, especially if you’re looking for something fun, and educational.  Or if you’re in Adelaide on holiday, it will be a special destination to add to your trip. We think it is safe to say that there will something here for everyone in the family.

Here are some of the reasons we love Monarto Zoo, and some information that might help you for your next trip.

The Education

There is a lot to learn about the other species that inhabit this planet. There are daily keeper talks that you can attend to learn more about particular animals, as well as the conservation efforts made overseas for the animals in their natural habitats.

Monarto Zoo have information available about the keeper talks going on each day available both online and at the zoo, so you can plan ahead where you’d like to be for each talk.

As well as listening to keeper talks, you will generally get to see the keepers feed the animals. This can be a really interesting experience to see them as they might be in the wild while feeding. Some of the animals that have keeper talks are Meerkats, White Rhinoceros, Cheetahs, and Giraffes.

Make sure you check the website or in the visitors centre at the zoo to see what other animals are due to have keeper talks on the day you’re attending.

For the animals that don’t have a keeper talk, or if you happen to miss the keeper talk, there is also a vast amount of information presented at the exhibits on signs for you to read and learn for yourself. Not only will you learn a lot but you’ll also love doing it. 

Animal Experiences

If you’re looking for something just a little bit more special, either for you or as a gift, then consider one of the animal experiences. These are special experiences that you can book into on top of your usual Zoo entry fees that get you something a little extra. Depending on the animal you chose, depends on the type of experience you get and the cost, sometimes zoo entry is included but this is not always the case.

The Explore Adelaide team have previously done the Rhino Interactive Experience and we can safely say it is amazing. We were taken to see both the Black Rhino and the Southern White Rhino. During this interactive experience we were able to feed them, pat them and we also learnt a lot more about them.

If you’d like to give someone an extra special gift for their next birthday, this is something we would highly recommend.

Recently the zoo opened the new Lion 360 experience. This has been set up with the attendees going into a big cage structure and allowing the lions to roam around them within a very close, but safe, distance. There is also the opportunity to feed the lions through the cage. This happens twice daily depending on the weather at the zoo. This looks like an absolutely awe-inspiring experience that you’re not likely to forget.

When booking an animal experience, just take note of the age and fitness restrictions on each one. Different animals have different age limits for attendees and not all experiences are wheelchair accessible. Generally children will require an adult attending the experience with them.

Getting Around

There are a couple of different ways you can get around Monarto Zoo. There are shuttle busses that take passengers to each animal stop at the zoo. On these busses there is generally a volunteer that will tell you information about the zoo, the animals and the current conservation programs being run. This gives you the opportunity to get quite close to some animals, as they often sit close to where the busses pass through. All animals have priority during these trips so sometimes the bus will be held up for crossing animals, which gives you even more opportunity to see them up close.

If you need to stretch your legs after the long drive out, you could also take one of the walking tracks to see the animals. There are several walking tracks through the zoo that take you past exhibits and bus stops along the way. There is the Emu Track, Mallee Fowl Track, Ridge Track, Boma Track and Bretag Track. Using these tracks, or a combination of these tracks and busses you’ll be able to get some extra exercise, as well as seeing a lot of the zoo that you wouldn’t have access to if you were to take the bus.

Due to certain weather conditions, the walking tracks may be closed with short notice for safety reasons.

Facilities on Offer

Whether you’re looking to have a picnic or you’d like to relax in a cool cafe, Monarto Zoo has you covered. There are several picnic areas for people to sit down and enjoy a yummy picnic. There is ample seating near the new playground area. This makes it even easier for parents to keep an eye on their little ones while they sit down for lunch.

Most of the picnic tables are located around the Visitors Centre and the Cafe area. Shelter has been provided where possible for a lot of the picnic tables. Unfortunately due to fire risk, there is no use of barbecues within Monarto Zoo.

There is also the Ketabi Cafe. The cafe is open 9:30am to 5:00pm everyday and offers a wide range of food and drinks. You can purchase hot meals, cold meals, a snack or ice cream. There is so much on offer that you shouldn’t have any trouble finding something you like to eat. There is seating provided inside the air-conditioned cafe, or you’re quite welcome to use the picnic areas outside as well.

Within the Visitors Centre you can find lots of information about the animals, current exhibits and see some old animal skeletons and skins. As well as an information desk, there is also a gift shop inside the Visitors Centre. This has a huge range of Monarto Zoo items, animal toys, conservation books and clothing items. The items sold through the gift shop are good quality and their sale goes towards the costs of looking after the animals and running the zoo.

Special Events and Functions

Monarto Zoo and  Adelaide Zoos both regularly hold special events. Every Halloween Adelaide Zoo holds Boo at the Zoo. Monarto Zoo also hosts events like this, particularly for special holidays such as Easter and Christmas. There are also regular breakfast events where you can come in early, have breakfast, and see one of the animals in a special experience.

To keep up to date with the next events, simply check our events calendar on the website or check the Monarto Zoo website directly.

When you’re looking for a venue to make your own special events just that little more interesting then why not consider Monarto Zoo? The Waterhole Function Centre located at the start of the Giraffe Platform within the zoo can be set up to cater to all your family occasions. The Zoo also does weddings, allowing you to get married on the Giraffe Platform with a reception at the Waterhole to follow. You can spend the evening of your wedding with close friends, a customised food and drinks package while listening to the roars of the lions and the growls of the Tasmanian Devils.

We can say from personal experience that Monarto Zoo is the perfect place for a wedding.

Conservation Efforts

The team at Monarto Zoo and Zoos SA are dedicated to keeping these special animals on our planet for as long as possible. A lot of the animals at Monarto are endangered, with animals like the Black Rhino and Southern White Rhino due for extinction in the next 10-15 years. At Monarto they work tirelessly to help prevent these extinctions from happening. They set up and coordinate programs to help prevent poaching of Rhinos, Cheetahs and other endangered species. It is vital that we preserve these animals in the wild for as long as possible.

Another way they help is with their breeding programs. They manage the animals to breed in order to keep the species going as well as organising transfers between zoos of animals to keep the bloodlines varied. With some species, such as Tasmanian Devils, they have even been able to release these animals back to the wild upon successful breeding and re-introduction programs.

You can help to by donating money, adopting an animal at the zoo, volunteering with the zoo***, or purchasing something from the zoo shop where the proceeds go to conservation programs.

Entry to Monarto Zoo and Memberships

Entry into Monarto Zoo can be purchased at the gate, online before your visit, or you can get in using a Zoos SA membership. Children under 4 are free to enter, and entry fees start from $19.50*. Check the website before you visit to find out exact entry fees for that time.

Memberships can be purchased as either an annual membership or life membership. Annual Memberships start from $49.95* for children and are good for a year’s worth of unlimited visits to to both Monarto and Adelaide Zoos. You will get 10% discount within the zoo shop and cafe, as well as discounted prices for the Animal Experiences.

As well as all the benefits you get as an annual member, a lifetime membership gets a few extra things. Costing only $2300* for a lifetime’s worth of unlimited zoo trips, you’ll also get a lifetime membership lanyard, certificate and an extra transferable membership card for free admission for one adult or 2 children**. If you plan on spending a lot of time at the zoo for the rest of your days, or would like to get something extra special that will last a lifetime for your next grandchild’s gift, then why not consider the lifetime membership?

These memberships can also be used at some interstate Zoos such as Taronga Zoo, Perth Zoo and Melbourne Zoo. Check the website for the full list that the memberships can be used for.

Information correct at time of posting, please check the Zoos SA website for up to date pricing and information.

Opening Times and Other Information

Monarto Zoo is open every day of the year from 9:30 to 5:00pm, and is only closed when the weather exceeds 40°c or there is a catastrophic danger fire risk. This is for the safety of both the animals and the attendees. Keep note though that while the zoo is open until 5:00pm that the last entry to get into the zoo is at 3:00pm to allow sufficient time to explore the zoo.

The zoo has made every effort to make exhibits wheelchair accessible where possible. Unfortunately guide dogs and service animals are not allowed within the zoo. This is due to strict quarantine regulations the zoo must adhere to, as well as the safety of both the zoo animals and the service animals.

When you first enter the zoo gates you’ll be stopped to purchase entry or show your pre-paid tickets/memberships. Once you drive past this area towards the car park you’ll need to keep a look out. There are lots of emus and kangaroos in the area. All animals have priority on the roads within Monarto Zoo.

Monarto Zoo is located at Monarto about 65 kilometres away for the Adelaide CBD. It is only a 60 minute drive and fairly easy as most of it is along the Princes Highway.

To Conclude

The next time you’re looking for somewhere spectacular and educational to take the kids, head to Monarto Zoo. The things you’ll learn and the animals you’ll see definitely make it well worth the trip. The whole family will enjoy it.

If you have another animal park you think we should visit, let us know. We love seeing animals, both native and exotic. So let us know in the comments below, a message us on Facebook or using our contact page. We can’t wait to hear from you!

*  This pricing was correct at the time of publication and may be subject to change.
** Extra transferable card can only be used at Monarto and Adelaide Zoos, and will not be honoured at interstate zoos like an annual membership or lifetime membership card would.
*** You must hold a current zoo membership of some sort to be able to volunteer within Monarto or Adelaide Zoo.

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