New event a ‘massive step forward’ for Rocky Zoo
Central Queensland zoo-goers can now get up and close with a cute little mob of meerkats as part of a new activity on offer.
Rockhampton Regional councillor for sports, parks, and public spaces Cherie Rutherford announced on March 29 the Rockhampton Zoo would be launching its first ever animal encounters in April, although the exact starting date remains unknown.
These events are a staple in Australian zoos, where visitors can hop inside the enclosure and interact with the animals, and this experience will now be available in Rockhampton.
“They’ve been so popular within the community and everyone is going to be so excited about the opportunity to go in there and feed them and get to meet them and learn a bit about them too,” Cr Rutherford said.
This activity will be part of a trial for the council to learn how to run animal encounters with other creatures at the zoo.
The meerkats have been prepared by having councillors and staff in the enclosure so they can get used to seeing unfamiliar faces.
“The meerkats have just been so fabulous with the way they’ve accepted the new environment,” Cr Rutherford said.
They got used to animal encounters at the zoo they lived at previously.
Cr Rutherford thinks the new activity will help boost tourism numbers dramatically.
“Now to be able to have those encounters, it just adds that extra dimension to the zoo,” she said.
She has a lot of hope the trial will go well, with the schedule for future encounters to be revealed at a later date.
“We all know people have different tastes and they love different animals so we want to make sure everyone can get that experience that’s special to them,” Cr Rutherford said.
The zoo’s curator and director Liz Bellward said this was a massive step forward and would give the public a chance to connect with the animals.
“The big drawcard for meerkats is that they’re very sociable animals,” she said.
“We don’t even need to encourage them with food, they’ll just jump over people.”
Ms Bellward said there would be extra sanitisation with the new activities and it would be available for anyone more than eight years old.
Tickets are expected to be $100 and bookings will be required.
Fifteen per cent of money from the sales will go towards animal conservation.