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There are a number of privately owned zoos and wildlife parks in the Hobart area. I was lucky enough to be able to visit Hobart in November 2013 for two days. On one of them I went with my daughter to Zoodoo. This is an account of our visit.


The Peacock is an extravagantly impressive bird. Even without its famous tail, the head and body are spectacular.

Presumably this bird is more likely to display when a female is present. At one time, a neighbour’s Peacock used to live with our poultry and would display to our ducks. This Peacock at Zoodoo was displaying to a white Peahen.

People are able to go into the area with the Peafowl and feed them with food purchased at Zoodoo. Many of the animals at

Zoodoo are in places open to visitors.

Golden Brushtail Possum

In Australia, including Tasmania and many of the smaller islands, there is a group of marsupials called Possums. The name can cause confusion to Americans who know about the Opossums. While both these groups are marsupial, they are quite different animals. The American Opossums are mostly carnivorous while the Australian Possums are herbivorous or omnivorous.

The Brushtail Possum, Trichosurus vulpecular, is probably the most widespread of all the marsupials of Australia, but not the most widespread mammal. The Short Beaked Echidna is the most widespread native Australian Mammal.

The Brushtail Possum is a major pest species in New Zealand where it was introduced. It is also the largest of the Possums. The normal colour is brown, but a golden form does exist in the wild. The rare Golden Brushtail Possums are easier for predators to see. At Zoodoo the Golden Brushtail Possum habitat is fully protected from predators and visitors. This picture was taken through rather dirty glass.

Albino Wallabies

Genetic variations that dies quickly in the wild are the albino forms of Kangaroos and Wallabies. In these animals the recessive albino gene causes other problems apart from making it easier for predators to see them. In particular albino Wallabies and Kangaroos have very poor eyesight, and can be almost blind. In the wild they generally die quickly. In the sheltered environment of Zoodoo they can survive.

Here is an albino Wallaby with an albino baby in its pouch. As you can see, both these animals have their eyes nearly closed. This is quite different from the eyes of normal coloured Wallabies and Kangaroos.

Here is a normal coloured Wallaby with the wide open eyes we usually see on these animals.


The Tasmanian Devil is the biggest surviving marsupial carnivore, assuming that the Thylacine really is extinct. Although they are called the Tasmanian Devil, they used to occur over the whole of Australia. They became extinct on the mainland about 400 years ago. We do not know why they died out although there are many theories.

Devils have a very powerful bite and we were warned to keep our hands out of their enclosure. The Devil is generally not a hunter, but a carrion eater. When they find a dead animal they will eat everything, including the bones.

One of the ways they look for food is to follow behind a hunting animal like a Quoll or a Cat and eat whatever the predator kills.

Quolls kill their prey very quickly and can eat much faster than cats. This means that a Quoll that kills an animal will usually be able to eat a reasonable amount before its kill is taken by Devils. A Cat will often not be able to eat much or even anything of a large prey animal, so although a Devil is much too slow to catch a Cat they controlled the feral cats in Tasmania effectively. Now that the Devils are being killed in large numbers by the Devil Facial Tumour Disease, Cat numbers are increasing.

If you watched Taz on Bugs Bunny you might have got the impression that Devils are fast. Instead they can only get up to about 13 kilometres an hour (8 miles an hour). This is about half the speed that a moderately fit adult human can run, and is much slower than most animals.

A number of types of Australian marsupials can sit on their tail. The Kangaroos and Wallabies are best known for doing this, but Devils and Quolls can as well, as this Devil at Zoodoo was.

Devils, like many Australian marsupials, are mostly nocturnal in the wild. At Zoodoo, one of the ways they are trained to be more active in the day time is to feed them while visitors are there. In the next picture we can see some of the very strong teeth of a Devil as it eats its meat.

The Devil is threatened in most of Tasmania by the Devil Facial Tumour Disease. This disease is spread by contact, especially by biting. The Devils in Zoodoo are free from the disease and with the good fences of Zoodoo they are quite well protected from catching it.

Devils have about 30 babies at a time. When they are born, the babies are about the size of a grain of rice. But the mother only has 4 nipples. The babies have to crawl to a nipple. Only the four fastest reach one and the others die.


Not all white animals are albinos. White Lions do exist in the wild, and despite what it might appear like to us they seem to be able to survive and compete with the normal coloured Lions. Or at least, they could before people came along with fire arms and deliberately shot the beautiful white Lions. White Lions became extinct, but the gene did not.

The gene that makes the lions white is a recessive gene related to the albinism gene, but true albinos will generally have pink eyes, white Lions have normal coloured eyes.

Behind the white Lion cub is a teddy bear; the two white Lion cubs had been fighting the toy bear.

I saw two Lionesses at Zoodoo including one white Lioness.

Visitors were able to feed the lions with small amounts of meat when the animal decides to co-operate. Here the white Lioness is being fed by a nervous looking tourist while the tawny Lioness is waiting its turn.


I only saw one Bengal Tiger at Zoodoo. It was lying apparently contentedly in a room with a large glass window so we could go very close to the magnificent big cat.

It was a colder than average day for November in Hobart and the Tiger was probably muchmore comfortable out of the cold wind.

One of the possible problems of breeding an unusual animal like the white Lion in a zoo is the danger of inbreeding caused by only mating near relatives with each other. This can be avoided with these animals by including unrelated normal coloured Lions. This is done at Zoodoo where they have both colours of Lion. They also did the same thing with their albino Wallabies and had a mixture of albinos and normal coloured animals.

Boa Constrictor

The Wallabies were not the only albino animals at Zoodoo. There was also a young albino Boa Constrictor. It was being handled by a very informative keeper and we could get as close as we wanted.

Here is my daughter close to the snake.

Lace Monitor

The Lace Monitor is the second biggest lizard in Australia, after the related perentie. They are not native to Tasmania; the biggest lizard native to Tasmania is the Blue Tongue Skink. The Lace Monitor is an intelligent animal which can become quite tame, so despite its powerful and venomous bite the people round it were in little danger. The keeper holding it was very friendly and informative.


The Meerkat is a type of mongoose which has refined social living to a high level of sophistication. Usually only one female in the group, generally referred to as the alpha female, is allowed to give birth. If any other females have babies, the alpha female will kill them. At Zoodoo when we were there they had 6 baby Meerkats, but one had become injured and had to be separated and fed by the keepers until it had healed.

Here is one of the babies with two adults.

A keeper explained to the group of visitors that reintroducing the baby to the group is difficult. The Meerkats know the smell of every animal in their group and would reject the reintroduced baby as an outsider. The way round the problem is to catch all the Meerkats, including the separated baby, and put them in a box with perfume. After that they should all smell of the perfume and the injured baby should be accepted. Even using this method the reintroduction is dangerous.

Here is a keeper feeding the Meerkats on Mealworms.

Meerkats have a lookout which is changed about once an hour, although at Zoodoo they are less vigilant than they would be in the wild and sometimes there was no lookout. The length of the lookouts shift tended to be much shorter than the hour typical of wild Meerkats. In the Meerkat enclosure at Zoodoo there is a piece of a dead tree put in as a convenient place for the lookout.

At Zoodoo the Meerkats have learned

that the keepers and visitors are not dangerous to them, but if the lookout sees a Wedge Tail Eagle in the distance it will sound the alarm call that warns of danger from above and all the Meerkats will go inside. They also get frightened by one of the noises made by a certain bird at Zoodoo.


The animals in Zoodoo are all very well treated and most of them looked happy. The one type of animal I felt sorry for was the Wombats. Zoodoo has some Common Wombats. They looked well fed and healthy, but it seemed as if they were bored and there was an area worn bare by them pacing up and down.

The Wombat is an exceptionally intelligent animal, and it appeared as if there was not enough for them to do.


Koalas are native to Australia, but not to Tasmania. Zoodoo does have a Koala, but it is securely caged like most of the other animals not native to Tasmania. Zoodoo takes its responsibilities seriously about not releasing animals that could potentially damage the local ecosystem. I was not able to get close enough to get a good picture of the Koala in its cage.

Here is a picture of a Koala that I took at Cleland Wildlife Park.


Zoodoo Farmyard

One fenced field in Zoodoo had a number of farm type animals. This included Sheep which visitors could feed.

There were also Ducks, a nice looking Muscovy Drake and other poultry.


One humped Camels became extinct in the wild about 2000 years ago and only existed as a domestic animal. When the railway line was built from Adelaide to Alice Springs the workers were kept supplied by caravans of Camels led by Afghan Camel drivers. When the train was finished it was named the Ghan in recognition of the Afghans who had worked so hard. After it was finished, some of the Camels were released or escaped into the wild. These feral Camels are the healthiest Camels in the world and Australia sometimes exports them to Saudi Arabia. One humped Camels are called Dromedaries while the much rarer two humped ones are Bactrian Camels.

Here are two of the Dromedaries at Zoodoo; they had started life as feral animals.

The Bus Ride

Included in the admission fee to Zoodoo is a short bus ride which allows visitors to get much closer to some of the animals. The ‘bus’ has no glass windows, but instead has almost completely open sides. The frequent bus rides are clearly eagerly awaited by the animals because of the cups and buckets of food that are distributed by the visitors. As we went into the first area, Emus and Ostriches would eat out of the cups we were holding.

The Emus put their beaks into the cups of food.

The Ostriches had worked out a different technique and instead of putting their beaks into the cup they would grab the side of the cup and pull it out of our hands so they had the whole cup. Of course the other birds would get a lot of the food so the Ostrich technique may not be any better than that of the Emus.

After the Ostrich and Emu area our bus went into the Camel enclosure. A Camel’s head is too big to easily eat out of a cup, so they were fed from buckets.

Camels have long necks so they were able to reach all the way into the central isle of the bus. We were able to get very close to the Camels; in fact we had no choice.

Alpacas, Llamas and Lamas

In South America there are several relatives of the Camel. Alpacas and Llamas only exist as domestic animals although the two different wild species they appear to be descended from still exist. The next enclosure the bus went into allowed us the feed the Alpacas and Llamas.

Llamas are bigger animals than Alpacas. Llama is spelt with two l’s when we are talking about the animal. When you spell it with one ‘l’ the word refers to the Tibetan religious leaders; the head Lama is his Holiness the Dalia Lama. His Holiness was not at Zoodoo when I was there, but I'm sure he would have enjoyed it if he had come.

The bus ride was very good fun for both adults and children, but the one baby on our trip was frightened.

The bus driver had a young assistant who did things like distribute the food so we could feed the animals, collect the cups the Ostriches had taken out of our hands and open and close the gates. I thought he was lucky to have a job working with animals. I don’t know if he works full time or if he is still at school or university and just works on the weekends.



There were several types of Monkey at Zoodoo. As with other animals not native to Tasmania these were kept in very secure cages. Although we could see them, it was difficult to take any good photographs. My favourites were the Marmosets. These tiny monkeys come from South America.

Their faces look surprisingly human.



There is an inside section of Zoodoo where most of the animals were animals of types often kept as pets. In most of the cages, visitors were allowed to go into pet the animals although not to pick them up. I know from the owners of other places with animals that Guinea Pigs are often injured by people picking them up roughly. The Guinea Pigs at Zoodoo were quite happy for me to photograph them from outside their cage.

Guinea Pigs are like Camels, Llamas and Alpacas in the sense that there are no wild Guinea Pigs of the species kept in captivity. Guinea Pigs have been bred by people for about 7,000 years. A Guinea Pig generation can be as short as just over 3 months, so there have been a lot of generations of Guinea Pig bred in captivity. They must have changed a lot in that time, but still have some of their wild instincts, as well as things they have learned from experience. As soon as I went into their cage they ran for home.

There were Rabbits as well as Guinea Pigs.

In a different cage we saw the Silkie Bantams.

All Silkie Bantams used to be white, but different colours have been bred.

Ned Kelly

Ned Kelly was a nineteenth century Australian criminal. One of the things he is famous for is his armour. In Zoodoo there is a Little Corella which was born in 1927. A long time ago this bird developed the odd habit of putting a tin can over its own head. He still has the original tin can and still puts it on his own head.

Ned also talks to the visitors.


There were a number of Puppies at Zoodoo, including some cross bred puppies that were for sale. People were allowed to go in with the Puppies.


Kathy and I had a good time at Zoodoo, and I can certainly recommend a visit if you are ever in the Hobart area, and are interested in animals. Zoodoo is definitely a zoo in the modern sense and the very knowledgeable staff members not only entertain people, but seem to have a genuine affinity for their animals, and are doing their bit to conserve rare species and varieties.


I have no financial interest in Zoodoo and was only a visitor. This little article only shows some of the animals on display at Zoodoo; there were quite a few others.

This is being written without the knowledge or approval of the Zoodoo staff and management.

By Steve Challis and Katherine Challis

Copyright 2013 Steve Challis and Katherine Challis


All the photographs are by Steve Challis or Katherine Challis and are protected by copyright.The picture of the Dalia Lama was taken in New York.