The Santa Barbara Zoo is pleased to welcome three male western grey kangaroos, who will soon call the new Australian Walkabout exhibit their home.
The kangaroos, named Max, Aspen and Coolibah, will join four Bennett’s wallabies and two emus, who have all recently moved into the exhibit and are adjusting to their new surroundings.
The new Australian Walkabout is scheduled to open on January 8, 2022. The exhibit is designed to transport guests “Down Under” where they can walk among iconic Australian animals and plants.
“We’re happy to share that all the animals are now cohabitating in the exhibit, and getting acclimated with each other and their new surroundings … So far the animals all seem to be adjusting really well, and we’re really looking forward to introducing these unique and iconic animals to our guests very soon,” said Dr. Julie Barnes, the Zoo’s Vice President of Animal Care & Health, in a press release.
Max was born in May 2020, and came to the Santa Barbara Zoo from the San Diego Zoo. Aspen and Coolibah are brothers and arrived together from the LA Zoo. Aspen was born in August 2019 and Coolibah was born in August 2020. Max is sponsored by Jess & Aaron Goldberg, Coolibah is sponsored by Charlotte & Ken Richardson and Aspen is sponsored by Alaia.
One of the unique things about the Australian Walkabout is that it is a walkthrough exhibit, allowing the guests to be immersed in the experience with the animals.
“Walkthrough exhibits have existed for a long time. Australian species are very safe and docile, and fit well with walkthrough opportunities. Guests are asked to stay on path, no barrier or railing along pathways, Animals can choose to be wherever they are comfortable,” Julie Barnes, the Santa Barbara Zoo’s VP of Animal Care & Health told the News-Press.
The emus, which are also a part of the Australian exhibit, are much more comfortable with people, whereas kangaroos tend to be more shy, allowing people to get within a certain proximity while still maintaining a safe distance. However, they may become more comfortable over time.
“We hope people have a really nice and fun experience going through the exhibit. We hope that they can connect with the animals, as they walk through the exhibit. We really want to use the opportunity to get our guests to understand why conservation is important. We want them to connect with and care about the animals, if they care about the animals they will care about what happens to the animals in the wild,” Ms. Barnes told the News-Press.
The exhibit is designed to simulate an authentic Australian experience, allowing them to interact with the animals on open pathways, in the midst of an authentic Australian habitat, amidst beautiful landscape and unique and iconic Australian wildlife.
“We just want people to come and enjoy the experience. This is an opportunity to experience very unique Australian animals and landscape, without having to travel all the way to Australia,” said Ms. Barnes.