The Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is small but well worth the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of Australia and Tasmania’s most famous animals. Bonorong is the largest day long animal rescue service on the island, and are completely funded by the entry fees.
The goal is to get every animal back into the wild, but that’s not always possible. In that case, the animal has a safe forever home at the sanctuary. The Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is also a tourist attraction providing education about these animals and the importance of protecting them.
What to See at the Bonorong Sanctuary
We went to visit the Wildlife Sanctuary during our cruise to Australia and New Zealand when we stopped for the day in Tasmania The main attraction at the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is the animals of course! There are animals at Bonorong that are extinct everywhere else in the world, such as the Tasmanian devil, the Eastern quoll, the Tasmanian pademelon and the Tasmanian bettong.There are also plenty of stories of survival to tug on your heartstrings, like Thumper, the wombat whose mother was hit by a car but she somehow survived until she was found in the bushes a couple of days later.
Other animals include kangaroos, koalas, wombats, emus, lizards, penguins and more! During the public tour, guests will have the opportunity to pet a koala and a wombat, and the admission fee includes a bag of kangaroo food to feed the friendly roos! It’s not at every zoo in Australia where you can touch a kangaroo or koala, and they’re the perfect photo ops for you and your family.
If you have the time, definitely book a behind-the-scenes tour (if you book a behind-the-scenes tour, it includes complimentary free admission to the sanctuary)! These three special tours will get you up close and personal with the animals and you will see things that most guests do not. Kids might get a huge kick out of the Feeding Frenzy tour, which is two and a half hours and is customized like the Bonorong Night Tours.
It takes place during daylight hours and features the animal’s eating habits. To this day, our kids remember the crazy Tasmanian Devil that paced back and forth in its cage like some evil monster out of a sci-fi movie, as well as the kangaroo joey that was waving to the visitors out of his mom’s pouch.
If you can visit at night, the Bonorong Night Tour is a two and a half hour group feeding tour in which your group will get to help hand-feed some of the animals and learn more about the rehabilitation efforts of the sanctuary. This tour takes place after the zoo has closed, and a group of up to six people will have their own tour guide.
For a more customized experience, they have the Private Premium Night Tour, which is similar to the Bonorong Night Tour except that it is three hours long, exclusive to just the people you came with and included a glass of sparkling wine or juice.
Autism Travel Tips:
- Children who participate in the daily tour will have the opportunity to pet a koala and a wombat.
- It is advisable to come before 11:30, firstly to get there before the crowds and secondly to get there while the animals are most active.
- There is some food available in the gift shop, but there is not a fully stocked café on the site yet, which is important to remember if your kids are picky eaters or suffer from food allergies.
- The ground is uneven and steep in some places, so wear comfortable shoes and prepare accordingly.
- Because of the uneven ground, the zoo offers free admission for guests in a wheelchair plus one companion to facilitate the guest needing assistance.
- For safety reasons, Seeing Eye dogs are not allowed in the sanctuary.
- The kangaroos can be somewhat aggressive when you feed them and might scare your child. There are also free roaming kangaroos that can get aggressive if they think you have food, so it’s not advisable for little kids to feed the kangaroos unsupervised.
- Bring hand wipes as you and your child might be touching wild animals.
- Advise your child to ask staff before touching any animal.
- The smells might be a problem in some areas for kids who are smell sensitive.
- Teach your kids not to throw any foods or wraps into the animal cages, because this can hurt the animals.
- Prepare your children for the many different sounds of the animals since some of them might be loud and frightening.
- The average time to walk the entire zoo premises is about an hour, but allow an additional forty-five minutes if you decide to join one of the daily public tours.
The sanctuary is a fun and education experience for the entire family. There’s a lot of interactivity unique to this zoo and you can get up close and personal to the animals and their habitats. Our kids got a huge kick out of petting and feeding all the animals, and it gave them a new perspective on the land down under.