Roo Walkabout at the Chaffee Zoo
Things are always moving and shaking (and hopping, and flapping) at the Chaffee Zoo.
I spent a lot of time at this zoo as a kid, back in the days of Nosey. I also volunteered here as a teenager, helping out with the summer zoo workshops for younger kids- the same ones I took when I was little. I have such fond memories of this place, and it’s such an intrinsic and wonderful part of Fresno. It’s a thrill to take my own son there with me, and it never fails to amaze me how captivated he is- and remind me how much more beautiful and interactive this zoo is than the one I remember from the 80’s and 90’s.
It’s been a busy summer here, with the recent birth of a new baby lion, and the initial opening of the new Walkabout experience. I was happy to have an excuse for yet another visit!
The Roo Walkabout is currently just an outpost in the Outback, so to speak, but is due to expand in variety in the future. It’s currently home to several red kangaroos and an elegant emu, and also boasts an enclosure for kookaburras.
As advertised, you actually do get to walk through. From the outside, it’s beautifully landscaped, and gives the impression of a natural habitat, bordered by huge eucalyptus trees, lush palms, and hardy grasses. There are larger fences on the outside of the enclosure, but the inner fence along the pathway is low and easily ignored by the larger animals in the exhibit, so they are essentially roaming free inside a paddock, and can choose how up close and personal they can get with visitors. While I was there, one of the ‘roos was happily lounging in a patch of sun in the middle of the walkway, and we were advised to just walk around it!
There are several keepers in the exhibit if you have questions, and to ensure the safety of the animals and the guests, and to make sure the entry and exit fences are properly latched. If you do have a little one with you when you go, the one caveat I had is that it’s very close to the Barnyard petting zoo, so before you go in, you may want to take a quick minute to explain that even through the animals in the Walkabout seem friendly and don’t run away from you, the rules in that area are different. (As you may have guessed, my 20 month old had some issues with this policy!)
As is usual at the Chaffee Zoo, everyone was very friendly and we had a great time strolling and checking out the animals.
There were several shady areas where we could just hang out and watch the emu, who was happily following one of the keepers about and posing for pictures. The kookaburras were bigger than I thought they would be, and hopefully on another trip, we will get to hear their trademark laughing calls. The kangaroos were happily eating and lazing about in the sun. I have never been that close to a kangaroo or an emu before, and I definitely chalk this latest Chaffee Zoo experience up as a “win”. Enjoy!
I was born in Fresno and grew up here, as did my husband and my parents. I'm thrilled to be raising my young son here too! I've gone away for school and spent brief periods in other parts of California, but have always ended up homesick for my hometown.
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