Walking along the winding paths of the Adelaide Zoo shaded by bamboo and palms, with the whistles and chirps of birds overhead and the occasional soft hoot of a monkey in the background, it’s easy to forget that you are in the City of Adelaide.
The landscaping at the zoo includes plants carefully chosen from the world regions represented by the animals living in the different sections of the zoo. Features include a large central rotunda, the grassy and lightly shaded Central Lawn with picnic benches, several overhead monkey crossings, and a huge Morten Bay Fig Tree. The effect is an oasis just a short walk from the office buildings of the Adelaide CBD.
The Adelaide Zoo is tucked along the River Torrens in the Adelaide Park Lands between the Adelaide Botanic Garden and the University of Adelaide. At just 8 hectares, it is relatively small, making it easy to cover the entire zoo and see animals from all parts of the world in just a few hours. The paths through the zoo range in width and weave past the animal enclosures, sometimes forking and sometimes coming to a dead end. Even with the map and despite the zoo’s small size, the weaving paths make it easy to find yourself heading the wrong way. If you are directionally challenged, you may want to consider taking one of the free walking tours, which depart near the main entrance every hour from 10 am to 3 pm and are designed to help visitors discover the zoo and learn about its residents.
Alternatively, if you are planning to watch one of the many Meet the Keeper experiences at the zoo, make sure to give yourself time to find the enclosure on your own. Meet the Keeper presentations are a chance to learn more about the animals and often include a feed. Daily presentations currently include the Flying Colours Free Flight Experience on the Central Lawn, and those of the Sea Lion, Tiger, Penguin, Pelican and Giant Panda.
Adelaide Zoo is home to the only pair of Giant Pandas in Australasia. Wang Wang and Fu Ni were moved to the Adelaide Zoo in November 2009 from the Woolong Giant Panda Research Centre in China as part of an international research and breeding program. They’ve yet to successfully breed.
Other international species can be found throughout the zoo, including a variety of primates which are mostly located near each other in the centre of the zoo. On our visit, the White-cheeked Gibbons were some of the most active animals and were fascinating to watch. Their enclosure includes a few trees surrounded by a small moat and can be seen on the ground path or from the ramp up to an elevated platform. The other side of the platform looks out on to a 100-year-old fig tree in which four Dusky Leaf-monkeys live. They are hard to spot, but occasionally you can see their long tails hanging down past a branch.
A few of the primates have access to crossings – caged pathways that allow access above the visitors to other enclosures nearby. The tiny Emperor Tamarins cross overhead near the Nocturnal House while the Colobus Crossing allows the Black-and-white Colobuses, with their white capes of long fur, to cross from their main enclosure to another near the Central Lawn.
Ground-dwelling animals around the zoo include African Lions, a Pygmy Hippo, and meerkats, which can be found in two locations and are always enjoyable to watch. Near the entrance there is an energetic family of Asian Small-clawed Otters that spends the day zipping in and out of their small pond.
Native birds and animals can also be found throughout the zoo. Pelicans live in a pond near the Central Lawn while emus, kangaroos, wallabies, and koalas can all be found near the historic precinct where the giraffe lives.
There are more than 2,500 animals and 250 species living at Adelaide Zoo, many of them are part of breeding programs to ensure the long-term survival of their species. The Adelaide Zoo is run by Zoos SA, a conservation charity, and the signage at the animal enclosures all have information about the species’ endangered status. It is the only major metropolitan zoo in Australia to be owned and operated by a conservation charity. It is also the second oldest zoo in Australia. Its shady paths have been providing locals and visitors an oasis from the city and summer heat since 1883.
Adelaide Zoo is located between Frome Road, near the River Torrens, and Plane Tree Drive, which borders Botanic Park. The main entrance is on Plane Tree Drive. It can be accessed by walking on the designated path from Frome Road towards Botanic Park.
There is an Adelaide Metro bus stop on Frome Road in front of the pathway to the Plane Tree Drive entry.
Adelaide Zoo is kilometre from the free tram that runs up North Terrace. Alight at either University or the Botanic Gardens stop. The walk down Frome Road is slightly shorter or take a nice wander through the Botanic Gardens to reach the zoo. The tram is free within the city centre; there is also a tram stop in front of the Railway Station if you travel to the city by train.
There is paid parking available on Plane Tree Drive, War Memorial Drive, Frome Road, or Victoria Drive between the river and the university. The street parking has various ticket prices and time limits. Some of the parking north of the river and along War Memorial Drive is free on the weekend. Parking on Plane Tree Drive is free on Sundays.
There is a Wilson Parking garage at Lot 14, on Frome Road south of the zoo. Casual rates start at $3 on weekdays, there is a flat $7 all-day rate on weekends.
Opening Hours and Admission
Adelaide Zoo is open every day of the year from 9:30 am – 5 pm. Various exhibits and shops have shorter hours.
Day tickets $38 per adult and $20.50 per child. Various family passes are available for families with 2 adults and 2 or more children.
Zoos SA membership includes entry to the Adelaide Zoo and free entry is available for members of Zoos Victoria, Taronga Conservation Society or Perth Zoo.
Food & Beverage
There are two cafes at the zoo: Wisteria Restaurant and Fig Tree Café. Water bottles can be refilled at the SA Water Drink Bottle Refill station near the Reptile House.
Free Wi Fi is available throughout the Adelaide Zoo which will help you enjoy the Adelaide Zoo app. The app highlights points of interest, practical information about the animals, and acts as an interactive map.
Visiting the Adelaide Zoo was on my list of activities to do in Adelaide as South Australia’s COVID-19 restrictions began to ease. You can read about my list at 10 Things I Plan to Do in Adelaide After the Pandemic. Other activities include: