From kangaroos to koalas, Australia is renowned for its diverse native wildlife. As Australia’s largest city, Sydney is one of the best places to take part in a variety of animal encounters, meeting a whole host of Australian animals, from wallabies to crocodiles. If the native wildlife is one of the main reasons you’re visiting, check out these top animal encounters in Sydney and get close to some truly fascinating animals in Australia.

taronga zoo sydney animal encounter

Photo credit: Rick Stevens

Taronga Zoo Sydney

One of two zoos in Australia operated by the Taronga Conservation Society, Taronga Zoo Sydney lies on the northern shores of Sydney Harbour, and can be reached by ferry from Circular Quay. Established over a hundred years ago, Taronga Zoo is home to over 4000 animals, including kangaroos, Sumatran tigers, Asian elephants, chimpanzees, giraffes, koalas and meerkats. The zoo also offers over 20 talks and shows a day, ranging from the entertaining seal show to the fascinating Asian elephant keeper talk.

If you really want to get up close to these Sydney animals, try the zoo’s Keeper for a Day experience. You’ll have access to areas closed off to the general public, and the chance to meet and feed many of the animals.

Koala Park Sanctuary

In the north-western Sydney suburb of Pennant Hills lies the Koala Park Sanctuary, where koalas and a whole host of other Australian animals such as wombats and echidnas can be seen in a peaceful rainforest setting. Throughout the day, there are shows and experiences such as the dingo presentation, the sheep shearing show and the reptile presentation. You can also enjoy a koala encounter in the koala enclosure, where you have the opportunity to pat a cuddly koala and have your photo taken with one.

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

The largest aquarium in Australia, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium is found in the heart of Sydney, and is home to over 700 different species: 13,000 animals and fish in total. The Sydney Aquarium takes you on a journey through 14 different themed areas, such as the Ocean Tunnel Walk, Shark Walk and the Tropical Bay of Rays. You can also see here two of just five dugongs, an endangered species of marine mammal, on display in the entire world.

Sydney Aquarium’s animal encounter is not for the faint-hearted: snorkel with sharks with the Shark Dive Xtreme experience. Submerged in a transparent enclosure, you’ll be able to snorkel side by side with the sharks. Penguin lovers can also get involved in the Penguin Passport penguin encounter, where you’ll be taken into an icy wonderland to meet, feed and play with friendly King and Gentoo penguins.

featherdale wildlife park sydney

Featherdale Wildlife Park

Featherdale Wildlife Park is found in the western suburb of Doonside, and is home to some of the best Sydney animal encounters around. Over 1700 native animals across 250 different species call Featherdale home, such as koalas, kangaroos, birds such as emus and penguins, and a host of reptiles in the Reptile Pavillion, including the Inland Taipan, the world’s most venomous snake.

One of the highlights of visiting the Featherdale Wildlife Park is feeding the kangaroos and wallabies. After purchasing a cup of food, you can stroll around the three enclosures and feed many different species of kangaroo and wallaby, as well as the unique quokkas. Personal Koala Encounters are also available here, where you can learn about koalas from an expert keeper, hold a koala and get some great photos to take home.

Even more amazing animal encounters in Australia

Sydney is a great place to start when it comes to getting up close to wildlife, but the rest of Australia also offers some fantastic wildlife experiences where you can see a whole host of enchanting animals in their natural habitats. You’ll get to see many of these unforgettable sights on our Australian tours, from watching the penguin parade at Phillip Island to seeing kangaroos and more in the wild on Kangaroo Island. Take a look at our tour itineraries to find out more about the amazing experiences our tours offer.

Featured image credit: Rick Stevens