Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo

** Warning: This post might take a while to load, there are a few photos.After driving so far from Adelaide it was nice to get out and see something more exciting than pavement. My day off at the zoo was followed by another 2 long days driving so I tried to enjoy every minute of it.The Targona Western Plains Zoo is run by the same people as the zoo in Sydney but with a different group of animals. It seemed to be the only thing to do it in Dubbo at the time. It sounds like the place where most people drive through and stay a night but never stay long. The park was just down the road from where I was staying and it didn't take long to find. The entry fee was a bit steep but I got a 9 dollar discount with my YHA member card. That discount made up for a third of the cost of the card!There is a road that goes all the way around the zoo. The road ends up being about 6 km and has parking all the way through to see a few animals and then hop in the car and move on to see the next few. After driving so much, I decided to park the car and walk all the way around. It was a decent day and did not look like it was going to rain.IMG_1409Right next to the entrance there is the standard cafe, restaurant and giftshop. I skipped past these and headed to a large pond with a few islands in the middle. For some of the animals they put them on little islands and boat across to feed and clean the areas. The lemur's and spider monkeys were near the entrance but I couldn't see much of the latter. The Ring-Tailed Lemurs were out getting food from the keeper's though and wandering around their island. I'll forever think of the movie Madagascar and the king of the Lemur's when I see one. They have a such a fantastic personality. After they ate they sat around and seemed to contemplate life and what their next move would be; eat, sleep or play?IMG_1421Next I headed around the lake to a small area with a few displays in it for Slender-tailed Meerkats, a Wombat and a Mallefowl. Like the lemurs, meerkats where hanging out thinking about life. One looked a bit disturbed though and was pacing back and forth in front of the glass. I'm not sure if he'd just lost a contact or was actually going crazy. I guess the zoo isn't for everyone. The wombat was asleep his little hole so I only got a teasing glimpse but they are sort of non-descript furry blobs. I'll see more at the zoo in Sydney. The Mallefowl is a large quail-like bird that builds a massive nest in the ground. I believe they are now endangered and the zoos are trying to help them get their numbers up to a healthy level.IMG_1438Next up was the African Wild Dogs, Black Rhinos, Arabian Camels and Barbary Sheep. It was really cool to finally see a rhino and they are spectacular. I can't imagine with they would look like in the wild. The Barbary Sheep were in the same pen as the camels and hung out up on the rocks. They look very similar to mountain goats.IMG_1449There were a bunch of animals in the zoo that I've never heard of before. One of them was the Scimitar Oryx. They were a goat-looking creature with large, slightly surved horns off the top of their head. They have to be careful not to break their horns as they don't grow back. One at the zoo had already lost one of his. Giraffe were next to the Oryx. I know exactly what a giraffe looks like but had never seem them in person. It was cool to see them up close, but would be even better in the wild. The Addax was next. It looked like a cross between a goat and a horse and had 2 long curly horns.Another on my list of previous unknowns was the Common Eland. It's basically another horned grazer. The zoo has a bunch of them in a large pen. They come from the middle of Africa. On to more Lemurs, the Black and White Ruffed variety. They didn't have the personality like the Ring-tailed ones but were still cute. I'm not sure if they would be friendly to cuddle with but they sure looked like it. They were pretty slow moving, almost sloth-like.In a much larger pen than the Black Rhino's had, the White Rhino's were running around with tons of energy. A few of them were playing a good game of tag and chasing each other about and others were eating in various places. I remember watching a tv show of some guy from Australia trying to get some close up photos of the rhino's in the wild. I can't remember whether they were Black or White but they're both big and scary. The guy ended up getting some crazy photos but had to bolt up a tree at one point after being chased by an unhappy male.IMG_1489And now for the deadliest creature on earth, the Hippo!! One of the keepers was doing a bit of a talk on them and mentioned how many people are killed by these crazy animals. They recently had to move one of the males because it broke through a big fence and almost killed another one. Nothing is routine with these guys, you always have to be careful. Sounds like they absolutely love a good mouth wash though. Just be careful when you stop!The lone Cheetah was sitting very nicely for photos in the next enclosure. I was excited to see it but also very sad that it was sitting alone in a zoo when it's supposed to be out tearing around on the open plains. It's meals come fresh and dead though which isn't a bad trade off.IMG_1517Next to the Cheetah was a massive enclosure with a whole ton of animals in it. Giraffes, Zebras, hippos and some other animals were all roaming around in here. It's nice to see they have some space. Apparently most of the enclosures open to more space behind the zoo where they are allowed to wander in the off times. The Elephants are taken for walks every morning as long as they want to go. They have Asian and African Elephants at this zoo. The Asian Elephants have an arched back and smaller ears whereas the Africans back is dipped and it's ears are massive for cooling in the heat. They were fed while I was watching and they make quick work of the leafy branches they get first. Next they get blocks of wood to munch on and they go through those like hydraulic splitters. Those big tusks are no match for any kind of wood and they split them in seconds.The Bongo, Banteng and Sambar were next, more horned grazers, then the Persion Onager which looks almost identical to a donkey. I found my favorite animal of the day after that. They are called Siamings and are a type of primate that can swing and climb ropes and poles no problem. They make the most incredible noise with a large pouch of skin near their throat. You could hear it all over the zoo. I will upload a video as soon as I can so you can hear their crazy calls.The Water Buffalo were pretty cool but didn't do much. They were all laying down in a corner when I walked through. I finally got to see zebra's and lions as well. It was pretty cool. None of them were doing much but now I can see I've seen them. After that was some different types of deer, a rare type of horse and the Oriential Small-clawed Otters. After these little guys, the American Bison seemed huge. It was strange to see them after seeing so many pictures and videos.The rest of the animals were fairly Australian. Dingos, Koalas, Kangaroos, and Wallabies were all here in good numbers. The Maned Wolf looked pretty cool but was not moving about much. I had never heard of the Brazilian Tapir before but they look like a pig with longer legs. They've got a tiny trunk, upper-lip kinda thing going on. On the way to the cafe I glanced at the Giant Tortoises. They were definitely Giant, not very exciting though. Because of the cooler weather they were huddled in their heated indoor room and refused to move much.I had hoped to get a bite to eat at the little shop about half way into the road around the zoo but it was closed so I was stuck with my bottle of water for the whole day. I hungrily tucked into a hamburger from the restaurant near the entrance when I had seen all the animals. I got a voucher for a free coffee when I entered so I took them up on that and relaxed watching the lemurs and spider monkeys who were now out in force patrolling their island.As much as I don't like to see animals couped up in captivity, the zoo is working hard to reintroduce animals into the wild when they can and protect the species whose numbers are dwindling. I was also very happy to enjoy a cup of joe and laugh at the lemurs as they curiously wandered their little island.[gmap]