Which Adelaide Wildlife Park to Visit

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When it comes to wildlife parks Adelaide is very lucky to have more than its share. Most of them are just outside of the city, but can be reached in less than an hour from the city centre. But which Adelaide wildlife park should you visit?

Many of them can be included in a day trip to one of our popular tourist destinations, so there is no need to make a whole day trip to see them. Here are all of the Adelaide wildlife parks.

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Adelaide Zoo

Even young children can participate in feeding the giraffes

Adelaide Zoo is located on the banks of the River Torrens right in the centre of the city and is therefore the easiest Adelaide wildlife park to get to.

In terms of zoos, you won’t find too many of the bigger animals here, just a few to whet the appetite as the space is not big enough for a wide variety.

You will see giraffe and lions, but no elephants, bears, rhino or hippos. The zoo is a leafy and pleasant place to visit and it is my favourite zoo in Australia for how much nature has been incorporated.

One reason to visit Adelaide Zoo is to see Funi and Wang Wang, the only pandas in Australia.

They are on loan to the zoo from China, and there are hopes that there will one day be the pitter patter of tiny panda feet joining them in their dedicated enclosure.

Adelaide Zoo also offers a range of extra experiences such as feeding the giraffe, meeting the meerkats and pandas, or being a keeper for a day.

Pros: Right in the city centre, kids will love it, can be visited in half a day, you can’t see pandas elsewhere in Australia
Cons: it’s a zoo, so smaller cages and smaller range of large animals than many zoos

Monarto Safari Park

A unique experience – Lions 360, where the people are in the cage

Monarto Safari Park is a sister site to Adelaide Zoo. It is located around 70km from the centre of Adelaide and will take a little under an hour to get to along the South Eastern Freeway.

This park is huge, and when the new redevelopment opens late in 2022 or early 2023 then it will be the largest safari park outside of Africa.

I recommend you allocate a full day for Monarto including travel time to really take advantage of all it has to offer.

There are no small cages here at Monarto, the animals live in large open-range enclosures and there is a big focus on conservation.

While there are some designated walking trails, the way to see the animals here is which a bus loop through the park from the visitor information centre.

Here you will see lions, cheetahs, giraffe, zebras, ostrichs, black and white rhinos, bison, and many other endangered and rare animals, some that can no longer be found in the wild. T

here are chimpanzees, a walk-through lemur exhibit, meerkats and Tasmanian devils.

Monarto Safari Park offers a range of animal experiences that can really get you up close to the animals. One of the most popular is the Lions 360 Experience where you are the one in a cage in the lion enclosure.

Others include meeting the rhino, a giraffe safari and mingling with the meerkats.

The new Wild Africa area will include a hotel and glamping facilities so you can sleep amongst the animals, and there will be jeep tours to try to find the animals just like on a safari in Africa.

Pros: open range, so bigger animals live in a natural environment, can visit without too much walking, so good for kids and others with mobility issues, unique animal experiences
Cons: Further away from Adelaide

Cleland Wildlife Park

The wallabies are eager for food at Cleland Wildlife Park

Cleland Wildlife Park is around thirty minutes drive from the city centre, located in bushland not too far from the Mount Lofty summit. This is another spacious park, but this one is only home to Australian native animals.

It is the perfect place to come to experience those animals you have not seen before, or just to enjoy feeding and getting close to the ones that you have.

The favourites here are always the koalas. Included in your entry ticket is the opportunity to stand right next to a koala for photos, see them up close (those claws!) and give them a pat.

For an extra fee, you can also hold or feed them and spend time with their keepers. I recommend that you book online in advance as they only allow a limited number of holds and feeds each day.

It’s not all about the koalas though, there are plenty of kangaroos, wallabies and emus wandering around that you can pat and hand feed.

See three different walk-through aviaries of birds, visit the reptile house and the only butterfly house in South Australia.

This is a fun day out for anyone, and would be my pick if you are looking for a relaxed day at an Adelaide wildlife park with kids.

Pros: Not too far from the city, easy to combine with other Adelaide Hills activities, beautiful bush setting, get close to koalas
Cons: Only Australian animals if you were hoping to see more

Gorge Wildlife Park

Patting the koalas is included with your entry fee at Gorge Wildlife Park

Gorge Wildlife Park is located in Cudlee Creek to the northeast of Adelaide. It will take around 45 minutes to get here from the centre of Adelaide.

They are home to a variety of Australian and international animals, but they all tend to be on the smaller side. So think lemurs, meerkats and alligators, not elephants and lions.

The park consists of some big, open areas where visitors can feed kangaroos and wallabies as they roam freely. There are more albino kangaroos here (white in colour) than any of the other parks, so that’s something different to see.

The rest of the park is more zoo-like, with smaller cages and enclosures. That doesn’t mean that the enclosures are too small, they’re not, they’re just not big open paddocks.

There are a range of walk-through aviaries and small reptile and nocturnal houses.

One of the reasons to come to Gorge Wildlife Park is to hold a koala – and it is cheaper here than any of the other places.

Even if you don’t want to hold a koala, twice a day there is the opportunity to touch and have your photo standing right next to a koala if you would like – and that is included with your entry fee.

Pros: Can be combined with Barossa Valley or Adelaide Hills activities (but not both), cheaper entry and koala hold prices, some animals here that aren’t elsewhere
Cons: A little further away from the city, more like a zoo with smaller cages in some areas

Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary

Warrawong Sanctuary is a little different to the other places. It was started when the original owner, Dr John Wamsley put an electrified fence around his dairy property to keep out all the feral animals such as foxes, rabbits and cats.

He was quite a controversial figure, but has created  this incredible natural area where the native animals can live.

Warrawong is only open on the weekends and during the school holidays, so hours are more limited than the other parks, but this is the place to come if you would like to see platypus in a natural environment – it is the only place on mainland Australia to do that.

There is a good range of animal experiences available here too, from patting the koalas to feeding the reptiles. They also do behind the scenes tours and invite you to be keeper-for-a day.

Pros: See platypus in the wild, can be combined with Adelaide Hills activities, cheaper entry than many of the other places
Cons:  Not open during the week unless it’s school holidays

Urimbirra Wildlife Park

Love the colours of these rainbow lorikeets

Urimbirra Wildlife Park is the furthest park from Adelaide, located right near Victor Harbor on the Fleurieu Peninsula. It will take a little over an hour to get there from Adelaide.

It is perfect though if you are already planning to visit the area and can easily be combined with all the other things to do.

Urimbirra is home to mostly Australian native animals, but you will also find some common farm animals here too.

They have the option to hand feed some of the animals, like the kangaroos, as you explore the spacious park. It’s not huge though, so if you only had an hour to spare, you could easily see all the animals.

You will find the popular koalas here, and after each of the keeper talks you will be able to go into the enclosure to touch and see the koalas up close. The keeper talks are at 11am and 2pm each day.

At 3pm you also have the opportunity to hold one of the (non-venomous) snakes – if you dare! Both of these experiences are included in the very budget-friendly entry fee.

Pros: Small park so easy to visit, cheapest of the parks and has experiences included, lovely relaxed setting
Cons: Distance from Adelaide if you are not already visiting Victor Harbor

Where to Find the Adelaide Wildlife Parks

Here is a map showing where to find each of the wildlife parks around Adelaide.

For more South Australian wildlife, take a look at these posts
Seeing the Giant Cuttlefish at Whyalla
Visiting Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island
Where to See Koalas in South Australia

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About the author

Josie Kelsh is South Australian, born and bred, living here for her whole life. Travelling all over the world has shown her exactly how amazing South Australia is to live and travel in and she uses her passion to show it to you the way a local sees it.