29 Nov 2018

You can meet some of Australia’s most iconic animals on the Gold Coast – as well as some of the Earth’s rarest, and most endangered. There are theme parks offering some of Australia’s most interactive animal experiences – which are also working towards saving our wildlife, with your help. We look at where you should go to meet the most memorable of them of all…


There’s a lot more to Sea World on the Gold Coast than somersaulting dolphins and scary roller coasters. Next time you see a whale caught in shark nets off a Gold Coast beach on the news, you can bet it’ll be Sea World’s Rescue Team cutting them out. They’re on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and have been involved in thousands of strandings or entanglements of whales, dolphins and other sea creatures. Through their Neptune Oceanic Foundation, Sea World has also supported over 180 marine science research projects. Portions of the money you spend at Sea World funds these programs and services, though you might want to also adopt one of their marine creatures.

These days Sea World offers far more than your standard kind of experiences. You can have interactive experiences with everything from sharks to penguins. You can come face to face with Australia’s only polar bears. And you can have a once-in-a-lifetime experience swimming with dolphins in deep water, or snorkelling in a tropical reef lagoon with rays, fish and reef sharks, or even enter the frozen world of the King and Gentoo penguin for a one-on-one encounter.


Dreamworld’s Tiger Island is one of the only interactive tiger exhibits on the planet. There’s less than 4000 tigers left in the wild, so this is likely your only way to come face-to-face with one of the Earth’s rarest creatures, while also helping to save them. Your money for these experiences goes towards the Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation (DWF), which collaborates with wildlife conservation groups all around the world to help save tigers left in the wild and is the largest zoological donor to tiger conservation in the world. Just by watching the two daily tiger presentations (at noon and 3.30pm) you are spreading awareness. By buying certain merchandise, booking up-close encounters, or adopting one of the Dreamworld tigers, you’re helping fund their survival.

Dreamworld is also actively engaged in the protection and conservation of our own native Australian endangered species. DWF supports research, habitat conservation and education for wildlife including; Koalas, Bilbies, Tree Kangaroos, Wombats, Tasmanian Devils, Frogs and Bristlebirds.


It’s much more than a zoo – Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has been saving injured and sick animals for 70 years now. While it’s most famous for its rainbow lorikeets, it’s also home to hundreds of native Australian animals – from salt-water crocs (you can watch a 4.8-metre crocodile being fed) to Tasmanian Devils and kangaroos. Plus, you can watch vets help sick and injured animals in the sanctuary’s animal hospital – one of the world’s busiest wildlife hospitals – which admits 10, 000 animals a year.

The Wildlife Sanctuary doesn’t just care for wildlife in the sanctuary, over 100, 000 native animal patients are brought in for help by the local community each year, free-of-charge. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary also operates an ‘Adopt A Wildlife Child’ program, organising guests to pay a yearly fee to foster native Australian animals.


Families can experience what life’s like on a working farm, albeit one that’s just 20 minutes drive from the heart of Surfers Paradise. Paradise Country offers kids real-life farm work responsibilities, like collecting eggs, bottle feeding baby animals and milking cows at sunrise.

Families can sleep-over in an Australian homestead and immerse themselves in real-life farm experiences like waking to the crow of a rooster and wandering to the paddock to greet the morning. Stay in a Farmstay eco tent, or in an on-site tent or caravan. You’ll also see sheep shearing and stockmen rounding up sheep using working dogs. Native Australian animals like dingoes, kangaroos, koalas and emus all call Paradise Country home. You can help to save endangered native Australian wildlife through Paradise Country’s Save A Mate foundation.

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Craig Tansley
Craig Tansley

Craig Tansley is one of Australia’s most travelled travel writers, spending at least a quarter of his year on the road. Raised near the Gold Coast, he’s lived around the world but has returned home, now residing at Currumbin. He writes for some of Australia’s best known newspapers and magazines, and has written for international titles such as The Sunday Times of London.


Destination Gold Coast acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region. 
We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout Southeast Queensland.