Australian Wonders

The San Diego Zoo has quite a few botanical wonders from Down Under by the koalas and our other Australian and New Zealand animals: Queensland lacebark trees, New Zealand Christmas trees, flaxleaf paperbarks, Australian flame trees, and, of course plenty of eucalyptus, the gum trees made famous in the kookaburra song and other Australian ditties. Because our climates are so similar, many of the Australian plants and trees that were brought in as botanical novelties in the 1800s and early 1900s have since become common landscaping elements.

Tasmanian Devil

The Tasmanian devil is not just a cartoon! It is a most unusual mammal, found only on the island state of Tasmania, a part of Australia. Why the “fiery” name and reputation? When a group of devils feeds together at a carcass, harsh screeching and spine-chilling screams can be heard. Devils are also black in color and are said to have fierce tempers! The San Diego Zoo is currently one of only a few zoos in the US with Tasmanian devils. Wild devils face extinction due to devil facial tumor disease (DFTD), a rare, contagious cancer found only in devils. Our devils are free of this disease.

Laughing Kookaburra

It may look drab, but you won't think the laughing kookaburra is ordinary after it opens its beak! Known as the bushman’s alarm clock, a laughing kookaburra vocalizes in its family group at dawn and dusk. The loud call sounds like a variety of trills, chortles, belly laughs, and hoots. It starts and ends with a low chuckle and has a shrieking "laugh" in the middle. The song is a way the bird advertises its territory. The laughing kookaburra is the largest member of the kingfisher family and was called the giant kingfisher.


We never tire of talking about koalas at the San Diego Zoo, ever since we welcomed our first pair, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, back in 1925. Since then, we have become famous for having the largest koala colony as well as the most successful koala breeding program outside of Australia. Our koalas can be seen from walkways around a Queenslander-style “house” that serves as our koala care center, where you can see keepers preparing eucalyptus browse for the koalas.


Camels were domesticated more than 3,000 years ago, yet humans still depend on them for transport across arid environments. They can easily carry extra weight while walking miles a day in the desert. Camels can travel as fast as horses but can also endure legendary periods of time without food or water. Humans have used camels for their wool, milk, meat, leather, and dung, which can be used for fuel. Our camels have it easy! The Bactrian or two-humped camel lives along Center Street and enjoys shady trees and logs perfect for the occasional itch.

Sydney's Grill

Nestled in the Australian Outback, Sydney’s Grill offers a variety of hot entrees including the BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich and BBQ Rib Tips, as well as nachos, fresh salads, chicken sandwiches, and burgers from the barbie. The menu also includes our Kid’s Meals, ice cream, desserts, and a large selection of beverages. Stop in with your mates to enjoy the shaded dining area while watching the koalas, giraffes, and rhino.

Open at 10:30 a.m. Monday–Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday

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