One of the Best Perth Family Activities – Our Perth Zoo Review

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Last Updated on September 23, 2021 by Travels with Kids

Perth Zoo is the smallest of the Australian government-run zoos.  However, this means that you can get around and see quite a lot in a short amount of time.  Ok, we are biased, but we think that a visit to Perth Zoo is one of the best things to do in Perth with kids.

Before visiting, we Googled hard for a good Perth Zoo review and weren’t able to find one that covered everything we are going to share.  So this is new information from people who’ve reviewed the Perth Zoo a number of times!

This post may contain affiliate links, from which we would earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. More info in my disclaimer.

things to do in perth for families

How Long do I need to Spend at the Perth Zoo?

If you read many reviews of the zoo in Perth, you will see they say that it is an all-day activity!  The Perth Zoo opening times are from 9 am to 5 pm.  Yes, without a doubt, with kids of primary school age and good weather, you could absolutely spend the better part of a day at the Perth zoo?!

However, based on two recent visits (with children of different ages) I’d say that 4 hours is a good amount of time to plan at the zoo with a 2 or 3-year-old.  With older kids, you could more than adequately make it to ALL the exhibits in 6 hours.  You know your family – it really depends on the attention span of your kids.  For example, be honest – if you have an animal lover who is aged 6 plus, you could spend all day.  In our family, one of our kids is not AT ALL interested in animals and his attention can only be held for so long.  And no, seeing the animals at the zoo did not pique his interest at all.  That is why we recommend reading our full Perth Zoo review to get the most out of your visit.

 

Perth Zoo TIP – If you have two adults in your group –split into two mini groups.  Take the interested kids to the sections of their choice while the other takes the less interested (or younger) kids to the Zoo playground! 

One of the Best Perth Family Activities - Our Perth Zoo Review
Visiting the zoo on a winter’s day

What is the Best Time of Year to Visit Perth Zoo?

There are two excellent seasons to visit the Perth Zoo – they are spring and autumn!   Spring, which is from September through November, has lovely warm days without being too hot.  By the same token, March through May usually has truly gorgeous mild weather, not too hot, and hopefully with not too much rain.  We’ve never personally visited the zoo in the scorching Perth summer months but talking with our Docent (Zebra Car Driver) he said the animals can be pretty sluggish and families find the heat a challenge.   So we wouldn’t recommend visiting the zoo on a day when it is going to be 30 plus (that’s a lot of days in summer)!

Winter can be Ok for a visit, though we would recommend checking the forecast and going prepared for rain.  We went on a day during the July school holidays that was forecast to have little rain and it felt very busy.  Plus, it did rain quite a lot and we did spend time sheltering.  The paths in the Savannah were especially wet and muddy.  That said, we got to see a lot of animals and the kids had fun, so I wouldn’t rule out a winter visit to the zoo.

One of the Best Perth Family Activities - Our Perth Zoo Review

Perth Zoo Review Tips & Recommendations

Hire a Wagon!

Zoo wagons are $13 to hire for the full day at the Perth Zoo and are a GREAT investment if you are traveling with big toddlers or even pre-schoolers.  Keep in mind that they are rated to max 25 kg and no eskies are allowed.

Our toddler/walker was 2.5 years old at her last visit and does not like her pram.  That’s why we didn’t take it – she just won’t sit in it.  She did stay in her wagon for a while – though most of the time she just pulled it along herself.  This gave her something to do and kept her happy and occupied.

One of the Best Perth Family Activities - Our Perth Zoo Review

Zebra Car

For us, the Information about Zebra Cars was quite confusing online.  After we arrived we learned that they are driven by volunteers (docents) and so the number of Zebra Cars running during the Covid 19 times is limited.

Therefore, book on arrival at the information desk as they can sell out fast.  As far as we could tell, there was no timetable.  You just booked in for the best time you can get.

Each Zebra car is small – the size of a golf buggy and takes about 6 passengers – maybe 7.  They will operate for family groups, so it was perfect for 2 adults and 3 kids.  Most of the zoo is able to be accessed from the Zebra Car, except the African Savannah.  In our case, we started at the crocodiles, and then went to the top of the hill and saw the red panda, which was a highlight (even though it was sleeping).

If you book a Zebra Car for early in your day you can get a good overview of the zoo quickly, therefore saving your energy and enthusiasm for later in the day.  For us, we couldn’t get into the car until later in the day and it was perfect when energy and interest were waning.  In fact, after our tour in the Zebra Car, we headed straight to the shop and home; everyone felt they had seen it all.

Perth Zoo Carousel

If all the wild and wonderful animals get to be a bit much, then we highly recommend heading to the Perth Zoo Carousel, apparently to be the only permanently installed merry-go-round structure in Western Australia.

For us, it’s the quiet location in the corner of the zoo, the typical carousel music and the

Delight the kids with a spin on Perth Zoo’s fully-restored, historic carousel, running from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm every day and 10:00 am – 4:00 pm during the school holidays ($4 per child/ride). Enjoy a coffee from shady comfort nearby or grab a couple of pictures as they whiz by

To Zoo or Not to Zoo?

I copied this beautiful phrase from the Perth Zoo website, “A childhood trip to the zoo used to be a beloved rite of passage, but increasingly some people are beginning to feel uncomfortable with zoos”.  Read more of that article here.

To be honest, I felt that way about the Perth Zoo.  Then I did some more research and found that they had regional accreditation for animal welfare.  They were also commended for their conservation and breeding programs.  In fact, the Perth Zoo orangutan breeding program has apparently released more orangutans back into their native habitat than any other breeding program.  In general, at the Perth Zoo, I found that the animals were healthy and well cared for and it was easy to view them without being intrusive.

Perth Zoo Opening Times

The Perth zoo opening times are 9 am – 5 pm every day of the year.  Sometimes they stay open later on special events days!

Perth for kids

Getting to the Perth Zoo

The Perth Zoo is well located in the heart of Perth –they are just across the Swan River from the Perth CBD.  In fact, if you are staying in the city then traveling to the zoo via ferry adds to the whole experience and we recommend it!

Perth Zoo – In Your Own Car

If you are driving to Perth Zoo most likely you will take the Mitchell/Kwinana Freeway that is Perth’s main driving artery.  To get to the zoo you will take the Mill Point Road freeway exit ramp coming from either north or south.

There is a wide range of paid, timed parking around Perth Zoo.  We have always bought an all-day ticket as we have not known how long we would like to stay.

Perth Zoo by Ferry

If you are staying in the Perth CBD or near Kings Park then taking the ferry to Perth Zoo is a wonderful use of public transport. The ferries depart the Elizabeth Quay Jetty (Perth CBD) every 15 minutes in summer, and every 30 in the winter months.  The crossing of the Swan River is just 10 minutes.  From the Mends Street Jetty where you arrive, the Perth Zoo is a 500m walk past shops and restaurants.

Don’t forget that the Elizabeth Quay area provides lots of fun things to do with kids, covered in our post Elizabeth Quay For Kids.

There are also some great playgrounds along the South Perth foreshore, including at Mends Street Jetty.  Make sure you allow a bit of time to play.  More information at Perth Playgrounds and Parks in Perth.

Perth for kids info

Perth Zoo Educational Activities

While I would describe any visit to the Perth Zoo as being educational and informative for children, there is a wide range of activities on offer that are designed for visitors to get a closer, in-depth look at the animals.

Close Encounters

This refers to a series of activities that operate once a day, or on specific days.  They visit animals such as Orangutans, Rhinoceros, dingo, lion, Otter, Lemurs, and red panda.  Each activity has a specific minimum age and range in price but is around the $50 per person mark.  Some activities are more, some less.

One of the most frequent Close Encounters is that with the Giraffe.  It runs several times a day and costs $12 per person, and lasts for 15 minutes.  You get to go behind the scenes of the zoo to a special area where only the zookeepers go.  There you climb the Savannah Tower where you can be eye to eye with a Giraffe!  You will learn more about these gorgeous creatures.  If you are lucky, the giraffes might come over and grab a snack.  You might be able to feed them one of their favorite treats.

Note:

Children under 2 years of age (including infants) are not allowed.  All children over 2 years must have a Giraffe Encounter ticket.  They also must be accompanied by an adult (16+) with a Giraffe Encounter ticket.

For more information about the Close Encounters Program.

A to Zoo Kids Activity Programs

Designed for little children, aged from 2-5 years (eg, pre-school age).  This is an 8-week long-term activity that takes the children around the zoo and encourages them to learn about their favorite animals.

thing to do in Perth with Kids

Keeper Kids & Zoo Crew

Designed for kids a bit older than the “A to Zoo Program”.  The Keeper Kids is for children aged pre-primary to year 3 to spend time with a keeper.  They learn in more depth about the wonderful animals at the Perth Zoo.  In the same view, the Zoo Crew is for children aged from Year 4 to Year 8.  In this program, they begin to delve deeper and learn more.

These are really unique opportunities to take part in the Zoo activity programs.  They let the kids get hands-on with the animals, and do something special during their school holidays.

Keeper Careers

Once children hit their teenage years their natural thirst for knowledge and curiosity is matched by more practical concerns.  Like what career are they going to study for?  By doing the Keeper Careers school holiday program, they can learn if they have got what it takes to be a Zoo Keeper!

thing to do in Perth with Kids

Perth Zoo Entry Fees

If you compare the Perth Zoo Entry fees with the price of other attractions around Perth, it really is excellent value for money.  The entry covers a whole day of being in the zoo.  Which, on a pleasant spring or autumn day, can be from opening time to closing time.

It’s strongly recommended that you purchase ahead of time in order to avoid the queues.  That said, we have not had long wait times on the days we have visited.

Child under 4 – Free

Child 4 – 15 – $17, accompanied by an adult

Adult $34 / Concession $27

Perth Zoo Family Pass / Mini Group – 2 adults and 2 children $89.20

Places to see Animals in Perth

Zoo Friends Memberships

On our first visit to the Perth Zoo, way back when the kids were small.  We were so enthusiastic we purchased a membership.

Did you know that if you purchase a Zoo Membership in the 7 days after your visit?  You can discount the membership by the cost of your entry tickets.  This makes it much better value for money!

By getting a Zoo Friends & Family Membership you can get unlimited entry to the Perth Zoo for 12 months, a 10% discount at the Zoo Shop – and my favorite,  FREE entry to the associated zoos around Australia, which includes Taronga Zoo, Adelaide Zoo, and Werribee Open Plains Zoo.  Note, this has changed recently, so be sure to check the information when you buy your tickets!

We loved our zoo membership because we could make lots of short visits with our little ones and not have the pressure of staying all day and trying to make the best out of the visit.  In fact, we even made short visits to see the birth of some new babies or for my daughter, just say hello to the giraffes.

 

 

Other Places to see Animals in Perth

One of our favorite places to see animals in Perth is the beautiful Caversham Wildlife Park Perth.

If sea creatures are more your thing, then why not head to AQWA.  For more information check out our A Guide To The Aquarium Of Western Australia – AQWA Perth Aquarium.

 

The Verdict – Our Perth Zoo Review 

For Perth families, then a visit to the Perth Zoo is a must thing to do in Perth with Kids.  For families traveling from other parts of Australia which have great zoos, then you might prefer to spend some of your Perth holidays doing more unique Perth things.  Try the Aquarium or even Caversham Wildlife Park.

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One of the Best Perth Family Activities – Our Perth Zoo Review

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