We made some cute encounters of the furry kind on our latest Adventure Newcastle visit to Hunter Valley Zoo, where our contributor, Brittany, got to hang out with some monkeys and meerkats…
As I discovered on my last adventure, my love for all creatures, great and small, does not discriminate. Be it cute and cuddly, slimy or scaley, I’m the type of person whose day can be instantly brightened by the presence of an animal.
This time around, I got to spend some time with a few critters that definitely fall under the more popular ‘cute and cuddly’ category, while checking out Hunter Valley Zoo’s Meerkat and Marmoset Encounters.
Hunter Valley Zoo is located just under an hour’s drive from Newcastle CBD in Nulkaba, and though slightly smaller in size than your average zoo, it is home to quite a wide variety of species.
You can take an up-close look at everything from our much-loved natives, such as dingoes, wombats and koalas, to the incredible exotics, such as the vibrantly coloured South American macaws or the African wildcats Servals.
But, if there’s one thing you MUST do when visiting Hunter Valley Zoo, it’s booking a Meerkat or Marmoset Encounter, which gives you the chance to step inside the animals’ habitat for a totally interactive face-to-face experience.
Now, everybody knows and loves meerkats thanks to their multiple appearances in popular movies and TV shows such as The Lion King or Meerkat Manor. And it’s easy to see why they’re so popular, aside from adorable faces, they’re also full of personality, and it was an awesome experience to be able to get so close to feed and interact with them.
But, in all honesty, it was the bright and bubbly marmosets that really stole the show (and my heart… Just look at that little face!).
From the minute you step inside their enclosure, these little pocket-rockets are off! Jumping, darting and leaping from the tree, to your head, to the wall, to your arm, to your sunglasses… Everything is a landing pad for these guys – especially if you have some meal worms or mini-marshmallows (yep, they love a mini-marshmallow or two as a treat!) to feed them.
The marmosets are attracted to anything where they can see their reflection, so they loved jumping and grabbing onto our camera, phones and sunglasses. They move around so quickly, they look just like tiny little balls of fluff and energy. To give you some size perspective, their whole bodies sat neatly on our iPhone screens.
They also love to burrow and snuggle up in anything they can, including down inside your jumper and all up in your hair. Hot tip: Don’t even think about washing your hair before visiting the marmosets, because they will have made it their new home within the first five minutes.
I’m fairly sure I smelt like a marmoset upon leaving (and possibly had a few meal worms tangled up in my hair), but the whole experience was SO much fun that I didn’t care! The feint smell of marmoset pee that followed me home was 100% worth it to hang out with these great little guys.
My morning spent with the meerkats and marmosets certainly holds a place in my top 10 best days ever – I don’t think I stopped smiling or laughing the whole time, these mini monkeys have massive personalities, and could entertain you all day. If you’re an animal lover like me, then this is an experience you need to do!
Want to make friends with the meerkats and marmosets? You can book your encounter or find out more about Hunter Valley Zoo at http://www.huntervalleyzoo.com.au or call 02 4990 7714.
HUNTER VALLEY ZOO – Meerkat & Marmoset Encounters
Duration: Each encounter is approx 20 minutes
Adventure Level: Cuteness overload
Stay tuned for the next Adventure Newcastle feature, our new series where we test-run some of the best activities and experiences on offer in Newcastle and the Hunter.