Don't get me wrong - nothing beats encountering an animal in the wild, in it's own environment. If you are quiet and still enough, you can just observe them going about their day.
Sometimes though, you have to accept that it is highly unlikely that you will see a cheetah wandering around the nature reserves of Canberra, and realise it is worth going to the zoo instead.
The National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra has a great range of animals to see - native as well as international species. I visited a little while back to see what I could find.
It's always exciting seeing big cats, and Canberra's zoo is well known for it's cheetahs. You can 'Meet a Cheetah' if you are game - get up real close and personal!
There are a couple of species of tiger too, as well as snow leopards (I wasn't lucky enough to spot them unfortunately).
The meerkats were on alert of course :)
There is even a giraffe there!
The oriental small-clawed otters were very playful and heaps of fun to watch.
And you can't really call it a zoo without some kind of monkey or primate! This black capped capuchin was very inquisitive.
There are plenty of native animals too. It's nap time for these nocturnal Tasmanian devils.
This sleepy looking chap is a Goodfellow's tree kangaroo.
There were quite a few of these gentle little northern swamp wallabies just relaxing... although I think this one got more than it bargained for while trying to sneak a nibble at the Cape Barren goose's lunch!
This cheeky emu was very friendly, and followed me around for a while - no doubt hoping for a feed...
Bush stone-curlews lie very still in the undergrowth, hoping predators will pass them by.
OK, so a black swan is not exactly exotic, but they are very graceful and I couldn't resist!
These little double-barred finches were just visiting, but I couldn't believe how tiny they are! Check out how small he is compared to the grass around him!
The Aquarium and reptile area is quite fascinating too. This iguana eyed me off the whole time!
Another native - a long-necked turtle saying hello.
I didn't catch what species this fish was, but it was huge and covered in brilliant markings.
And finally, I thought I'd finish off with a smile, thanks to this baby American alligator :)
I hope you enjoyed these shots from my zoo trip. If you are in Canberra, definitely stop by the zoo - there are loads more animals to see!