Close Encounter & Guided Car Tour of Perth Zoo

Zoo’s most popular senior residents upstaged by a gangly new arrival

27th Apr 2018

When you think about the Perth Zoo, there are 2 specific residents that have been synonymous with the zoo for close to 50 years now. Their popularity with visitors, both young and old cannot be denied and as a recent Community Connections guided tour proved, are still 2 of the zoo’s most popular attractions, however there is a new arrival on the scene that visitors are also flocking to.

For over twelve decades now, Perth Zoo has grown from a place of recreation and fascination to one of education, conservation and inspiration. The Zoo has undergone a number of changes throughout its rich history, today visitors are presented with a very different set of experiences to those at it’s opening and is widely known as a unique events and functions destination and can offer a host of amazing experiences.

The large group of close to 30 clients, braved the early morning rain which was trying its best to dampen the group’s overall excitement at the chance of seeing up close a number of the Zoo’s attractions, in particular its two most popular & senior citizens – Trisha the Elephant & Puan the Orangutan.

The zoo’s special ‘Guided Car Tour’ provided our clients with the chance to sit back relax and enjoy the sights & and sounds with some up close encounters and special behind the scenes access of the Zoo’s wonderful animal exhibits, shows and education experiences. When the tour convoy set off to explore the evergreen zoo grounds, the sun broke through the clouds and the Zoo’s guide turned and asked some of the group, which animals they wanted to see first, there was no surprises that “Tricia and the elephants” was the most common reply.

The convoy headed to the elephant exhibit where the group was able to enjoy the sight of Tricia and a friend using their trucks to eat and also throw some of the dirt up onto their backs, which the zoo guide informed us was quite usual behavior. Tricia the Asian elephant arrived at the Zoo in 1963 from Vietnam via Singapore. She is the Zoo’s resident matriarch, its longest serving resident, and is one of its most senior citizens at 61 years young.

Although she has officially entered her twilight years, the group was assured she is remarkable health and has a great chance to see her become Australia’s most senior elephant ever, with the current record being 63 years’ of age. The tour cars then moved onto primate’s area for the group to enjoy another of the Zoo’s must see attractions and most popular senior citizens – Puan the Sumatran Orangutan. Puan has been delighting Zoo visitors for half a century now, ever since her arrival in 1968. One of the excited group asked the tour guide on arrival at her enclosure “So how old actually is she?”

Our guide replied that the Zoo believes she was born in 1956 and went onto explain “Puan was a gift to the Zoo from the Sultan of Jahore in Malaysia in exchange for some of our Australian animals. Due to the excellent health care offered at Perth Zoo, ‘Puan’ has exceeded the usual life expectancy of her species. In the wild if not succumbing to numerous threats, female Sumatran Orangutans would rarely live past 50 years of age.

After checking in on some of the other residents including the bears, big cats, penguins, otters and reptiles to name a few, the group was treated to a very special behind the scenes close up view of the one of the zoo’s youngest residents, Kamili the newborn female giraffe calf, who melted all hearts with her playful antics, trying to get mum’s attention for a feed.

Her name “Kamili” is the Swahili word for perfection and was chosen by zoo staff out of about 700 entries from a public competition that ran over three days on Perth Zoo’s Facebook page. Born at roughly 160cm tall, her days mainly consist a mix of spurts of energy and the occasional sprint together with plenty of naps and close attention, cleaning and nuzzling from her adoring and protective 4.5m-tall mum- Kitoto.

On the way back to the beginning of the tour, one of our clients, when asked about how she enjoyed the day at the zoo and who she enjoyed seeing the most today, replied “Was such an amazing day out, it was lovely to see both Tricia and Puan again of course, but the giraffe calf was the highlight for me, she was so sweet & beautiful, it was so special to see her up close interacting and playing with her loving mum”. It was the perfect way conclude another memorable experience and day out for the Community Connections program.

“Was such an amazing day out with some great people, it was lovely to see both Tricia and Puan again of course, but the giraffe calf was the highlight for me, she was so sweet & beautiful, it was so special to see her up close interacting and playing with her loving mum”

– Jen

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