National Zoo & Aquarium Canberra review

National Zoo & Aquarium Canberra Family Tour

Brooke (9), Samantha (7) and I were lucky enough to be invited to do a Family Tour of the National Zoo & Aquarium Canberra. The zoo’s motto is “A touching experience”, and we were soon to find out why…

This quietly brilliant Canberra zoo, located just 10 minutes from Civic on Lady Denman Drive at Weston Creek, features animals from all around the world. There are some amazingly unique features on offer, including thrilling animal ‘hands-on’ tours. Well-worth a day trip from Sydney, the National Zoo & Aquarium is a gem of a school holidays activity to do with the kids.

You'll find Iguanas in the Aquarium

You’ll find iguanas, alligators and snakes galore in the Aquarium!

On the day of our Family Tour, we arrived with an hour up our sleeve before the tour commenced so we decided to check out the Aquarium. The great thing about this Aquarium is that it is big enough to fascinate the kids, but not overwhelm them. There are many beautiful marine life tanks to wonder over, and a fabulous “touch pool” where the kids can get their hands wet and feel starfish, shark eggs and anemones. There’s also a great reptile area that features iguanas, alligators, and some of the largest pythons we’ve ever seen (shudder!) – there’s even a Boa Constrictor!

The Touch Pool in the Aquarium allows kids to be hands-on

The Touch Pool in the Aquarium allows kids to be hands-on

After a good half hour of enjoying what the Aquarium had to offer, we emerged to visit the rather irresistible-looking zoo gift shop (Me: “I am totally, not ever, never buying you guys another zoo toy – no!”). Two zoo toys later, we were sat at one of the outdoor café tables, sipping happily on soft drinks and enjoying the hilarious monkey island antics that were going on directly opposite. Our Zoo Keeper tour leader appeared, and after a quick safety talk (don’t get eaten!) we were on our way!

National Zoo & Aquarium Canberra

A cheeky Capuchin Monkey resident at National Zoo & Aquarium Canberra

The Canberra National Zoo & Aquarium offers many different opportunities to get up close to the animals – Keeper activities, animal meet-and-greets, several different animal feeding tours and Animal Encounters. The Family Tour is designed for families with young children and is a behind-the-scenes animal hand-feeding bonanza! We had taken part in animal zoo feeding experiences at other zoos in the past, but this was far superior with so many exciting animals to feed, pet and view at close-quarters. Led by our very knowledgeable Zoo Keeper guide, we slowly made our way around the zoo, stopping along the way to interact with the different animals.

The National Zoo & Aquarium Canberra is beautiful to walk through

The National Zoo & Aquarium Canberra has acres of beautiful gardens to enjoy

One of the things I really loved about this zoo tour was that we were never rushed – an unusual luxury for a family activity! The atmosphere was a relaxed and engaging one – kids were allowed to pat many of the animals and ask questions to their hearts content. Some delightful delays ensued as we traversed the zoo, such as Hummer the giraffe who revelled in playing hard to get – that is, until we pretended to leave, which made him come rushing up in horror that he might miss out on his carrots!

Hummer the naughty giraffe played hard to get until we pretended to leave!

Hummer the naughty giraffe played hard to get until we pretended to leave!

The huge Bengal tiger was astoundingly beautiful and just a little scary close-up. Really he was the perfect gentleman, and obligingly and politely took meat from a pair of barbeque tongs (you don’t want little fingers anywhere near those enormous teeth!).

Brooke was thrilled to be feeding a tiger by-hand!

Brooke was thrilled to be feeding a tiger by-hand!

The Sun Bears looked like big teddy bears, but we soon learned that in the wild they could definitely hold their own with those frighteningly long claws! We were given tongs to feed him through a small hatch, and he ever so politely took his pieces of apple!

The Sun Bears were ready and waiting for their apple

The Sun Bears were ready and waiting for their apple – mind those claws!

The behind-the-scenes aspect of this tour was a lot of fun – creeping through Zoo Keeper’s gates into cages, petting and feeding animals within their very enclosures, such as dingos, emus and kangaroos – all very much hands-on in all aspects. Often the kids got two goes at feedings, and all the parents had a turn too – which was a lot of fun for all!

In the dingo's enclosure - they're just like big dogs

In the dingo’s enclosure – they’re just like big friendly dogs, Mum!

We ended the tour back at the Aquarium where everybody got to hold and pet a corn snake. My kids are old-hands at snake handling now, but this was the first time that I had ever felt brave enough to try it! The second the beautiful snake was placed into my hands I couldn’t help the excited “Ooh!” that slipped out of my mouth – and then I didn’t want to give her back at all – what a way to end the day!

Taking turns to hold the beautiful corn snake

Taking turns to hold the beautiful corn snake

Thanks to the National Zoo & Aquarium Canberra for allowing us to participate in what was truly an exciting, memorable and “touching experience” for my children and I. The National Zoo & Aquarium, and in particular the Family Tour is a must-do for families! You can find our more information and book your very-own Family Tour of the Canberra National Zoo and Aquarium at their website here:

We loved our day at the National Zoo & Aquarium

We loved our day at the National Zoo & Aquarium

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About LetsGoMum

Hi, I'm Barbara, mum of the Let's Go Mum blog. We'd love to hear from you! You can contact me anytime with ideas on where you think we should go or what you think we should try...just drop me a line at!