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Monkeying Around

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Monkeying Around

Tiny mealworms are tickling my hand, yet I’m distracted by a marmoset that has jumped onto my shoulder. Marmosets are everywhere! These small overactive creatures are scampering over branches, climbing high in their enclosure, inquisitively reaching out for mobile phones and admiring necklaces. I’m participating in the marmoset encounter at the Darling Downs Zoo.

Zoo marmoset

 

After a two hour drive from Brisbane, winding through countryside and farmland, I arrived at this small, privately owned zoo. Upon entry, owners, Steve and Stephanie Robinson and a rescued joey, greeted me. This zoo has made headlines recently after the birth of rare triplet white lion cubs and I was quick to sign up for this new encounter.

Zoo kangaroo

These triplets are the second litter for parents Shaka and Shenzi, imported in 2010 from South Africa. Shenzi was pacing noisily just meters behind me in her indoor pen. With two zoo keepers and three lion cubs, there was plenty of time for interaction – patting, playing and just admiring these adorable cats. While they were too big to be held – the two males weighed 14 kg and their sister close behind at 11kg, I was astounded by their strength during a tug-of-war game with a pink towel. Chew toys, a picnic blanket, hat and even a Nemo stuffed toy were scattered around, providing excitement among the playful the cubs.

Zoo lions

Zoo lions2

Zoo lions3

I went from the cubs to the Big Cats to watch the 11.30am feeding. The zoo houses a large selection of animals – Ostrich, Brazilian Tapir and Rhea, Blackbuck Antelope, Red Deer, Baboons and Wallabies. The Robinson’s are working hard maintain a representative collection of the mammal, bird and reptile life from Australia, South East Asia, Africa and South America. With regular talks, animal feedings and the opportunity to get up close and personal with a baby crocodile or a python, there is plenty to keep you entertained.

Zoo wombat

Steve fires up the barbecue for a sausage sizzle at 12pm and food is very reasonably priced (only $2.50 for a sausage in bread). Mingle with other guests, and enjoy a relaxing lunch under the large trees. At 1pm participants for the marmoset encounter are called.

 

We were given a handful of mealworms and these long tailed South American monkeys were jumping on us in seconds. At approximately 20 cm long, the marmosets weigh less than a can of spaghetti. They were trilling, whistling, and feasting. These monkeys are endearing with their silky marbled brown and white fur, striped tail and unique white ear tufts.

Zoo marmoset

Zoo marmoset2

Zoo marmoset3

While the White Lion cub encounter has now finished, due to the cubs weighing more than 20kg, the marmoset encounter is offered four times a day. Take a trip to the Darling Downs to experience a day of monkeying around!

 

 

Marmoset

Darling Downs Zoo

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