We hopped onto a ferry and streaked across the harbour into the lightning storm and away from the safety of Circular Quay. As we passed through the gates and entered the zoo grounds, an ominous darkness had overtaken the grays of the hidden descending sun.
“Welcome to Taronga Zoo” began a zookeeper in an excited and welcoming tone. Behind her, the landscape lit up with blue-hued terror once every few seconds. So began the first of many entertaining dichotomies of the night. We had arrived at the zoo and so had the storm.
We could not have slithered into our ponchos sooner; the rain began just as we were raising the hoods over our heads. With the light of only a flashlight and the occasional lightning bolt above us, we made our way down the cobblestone walkway toward our campsite. When we arrived, we saw it was not that at all. Our quarters—not the expected A-Framed tent—was more like a detached, stand-alone room than a traditional tent. Electricity, hardwood flooring, and electric blankets on full sized beds were the accommodations. I’m not complaining. After finding our quarters, we reconvened at the pavilion and classily munched on cheese and crackers over wine while learning about reptiles: typical of a night at roar and snore. Bearded dragon; bite of brie. Coastal python; can you pass the pinot grigio?
From there, we feasted on a delicious dinner. Then the real fun began. Meandering through the zoo in a group of twenty led only by a red flashlight no larger than a pinpoint, we gazed at the unsuspecting animals. Lethargic crocodiles, snuggling fennec foxes, snoring lions, and adorable tigers sleeping in an old boat-like yellow tub. [Author’s Note: Don’t use products with palm oil! Save the tigers, orangutans, and gibbons!]
As we tiredly stumbled back to our glamorous huts overlooking Sydney across the harbour, we set ourselves up to brave the colds of the night with our heated blankets and oversized comforters. Quietly, we slumbered to the sound of squawking insomniac crows, gibbons, and peacocks. Suddenly it was morning and the kookaburra sang its song—there is no sleeping through that. What a lovely night at the zoo.