I’m not particularly knowledgeable about animals, but when there’s a chance to learn about something, I usually jump to it. Friends bought kel and I tickets to “roar and snore” at Taronga Zoo – all we had to do was choose a night to go.
There are two kinds of these tours: one has both adults and children, and the other has only the adults. We settled on the latter format, and after many months where we were busy, or the zoo was already booked, we settled on a date.
If you, like me, had never heard of this program, I’ll sketch it for you. Everyone arrives at the zoo after closing time (6:30pm) with their pillows and blankets. On arrival, you choose one of the tents that are already set up within the zoo’s educational centre. There are some refreshments on arrival, you meet a few animals, then have dinner, a 90-minute night tour of the zoo (around 30 people and 3 zoo-keepers), then dessert and bed. At 6:00am the next day (or thereabouts), you get up, empty the tent out, have breakfast where you meet another animal, and then have a daylight tour of the zoo before it opens to the public.
You can (under the supervision of the keeper) touch the animals that are brought out: I’ve never been so close to a wombat or a koala (they smell like eucalyptus). We hand-fed giraffes; we saw lions and tigers from behind glass without being crowded out by tourists, or yelling children.
To complete the contrast, the tickets include complimentary parking the next day, and you’re left to explore the zoo by yourself for the rest of the day (giving you a head start before the general public arrives).
The 30 people at the Road and Snore were told by the zookeepers that there had been 4,000 people in the zoo during the previous day.
If you ever get the chance to go to this, make sure you go: it was excellent.