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This is a story about taking a Jaguar to Australia Zoo!

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Just to set you straight from the start it’s the Jaguar I-Pace EV, not the Jaguar cat!! I'm not sure they would allow entry! Lucky for us Australia Zoo is a local attraction. Having grown up in the UK, Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter was iconic viewing and for most friends and family the fact that it is ‘down the road’ for us, blows their mind!

As a child, our family days out were to stuffy Stately homes that smelled of mothballs and almost always were surrounded by grey skies and rain hammering at the windows. Our daughter gets Australia Zoo and the Irwin family; it hardly competes! Maybe by the time our daughter has children of her own the Irwin's house will be a National Trust attraction and we’ll be visiting there and it will have gone full circle!!

The Jaguar I-Pace is our trusted steed this week and a BEAUTIFUL car both inside and out. It has an enormous sunroof that is just magical with the big blue winter sky above it.

I think I am actually a little bit in love! We are thoroughly enjoying using it with our family, the Jaguar I-Pace has a fantastic amount of luxury as well as being practical, incredibly smooth and quiet and a pleasure to drive. I wasn't anywhere near as besotted with the Jaguar E-Pace and quite disappointed by the Jaguar F-Pace but the Jaguar I-Pace is a breath of fresh air, definitely competing with the Range Rover Velar for luxury and the Tesla Model S for EV technology and if I'm allowed to say it… I prefer the Jaguar I-Pace because it combines the best of both in a refined and timeless manner (I am yet to test the Tesla Model X).

We drive to the zoo singing along to a compilation of our daughter's favourite tracks coming from the Jaguar's ridiculously good stereo, Tulsi is fixated on the fact she can see it on both media screens and we change the words to the zoo song “we're going to the zoo, zoo, zoo, the Jag can come too, too, too”.

The Jaguar E-Pace and F-Pace both have the little Jaguar stickers in the windows and our daughter noticed that the I-Pace doesn’t, so she rather missed this little detail!

I have noticed this week the Jaguar I-Pace does seem to get through its charge faster than I expect based on other electric cars I have previously tested, such as the Hyundai Kona and Tesla Model S. I definitely notice a significant drop in charge when I put the air-con or stereo on, so I am banking on being able to charge it up at the zoo or we might not make it home!

The Australia Zoo charger is a favourite of ours, how wonderful to be able to recharge ourselves in the beautiful surroundings of the zoo and charge our car at the same time. It beats a supermarket or shopping mall charger for us every time!

I’m always a little worried when I head to a charger that there will be someone else parked there and I’ll be stuck with a toddler and not enough charge to get us home! This day the EV Gods were smiling on us as we pulled into Australia Zoo and our daughter named every animal on the signage and asked who everyone in the Irwin family was on the large signs… Once this ritual was over I was relieved to see there was space for our Jaguar.

Tulsi LOVES plugging in electric cars! I think because the petrol station experience is so boring for kids, they sit in the car while the adults do everything, they’re not allowed to touch anything and it stinks of fumes too. When Tulsi gets the chance to get her hands on an EV plug it’s super exciting for her and there are no fumes!

Tulsi knows the drill now, straight out and opening the charging flap, she was a little disgruntled it wasn’t in the same spot in the front grille like the Kona EV but she soon scanned the exterior of the Jaguar and sussed out its location!

Now she is well versed in EV car lingo and asks, “is it the Tesla plug Mamma or the other one?” Trust me this sounds hilarious out of the mouth of a three-year-old!!

Plugging in is simple, but while we are still getting our pram out of the boot and loading it up, we notice that the green light has gone off next to the plug and we think it had stopped charging. So we mess around unplugging it and plugging it in again and finally work out it is charging but the light just goes off.

On the screen in front of the steering wheel, it says it is going to take ten hours to fully charge which we definitely don’t have time for after it took us ten hours to leave the house this morning and our estimated time of arrival had somehow gone from 10am to 11.30am… #mumlife!

Finally into the zoo, we head and excited about all the animals ahead of us! Being annual pass holders and Australia Zoo regulars we know we have missed the animals that you can touch and have your photograph taken with at the entrance. This is a must usually and we have a fabulous collection of the proofs from when Tulsi was tiny and we first started coming here, which she loves filling up her little photo album with. Also as annual pass holders, you can have those put onto a USB stick for $1 each instead of having to buy the print outs every time you go. Also handy to know is that if like us you have a backdated collection of proofs you can take them to the zoo, leave them with the photo lab and they will put your backdated pictures on the USB stick too. This is SUCH a great option because we really can’t buy all the photos every time we go but it is so nice to have the memories to keep and stick all over our fridge!

We head instead to the farm animal petting zoo next to the Crocoseum, I love this for my little one because she can stroke and feed the goats, the baby goats and sheep are cute and there is always a different number of piglets there each time we go, which again sparks a few questions from our daughter?!! Do we tell her she probably had them for dinner last night!?

You do have to watch the cheeky sheep, they do like to pinch the paper bags of food out of your hand and then the staff have to wrestle it back, I get the impression it is probably for the hundredth time that morning!!

It’s not long before we hear the start of the mid-day Croc Show coming from the Crocoseum so we say goodbye to the baby goats and bag-munching sheep to watch some animals that you would definitely not want to rip a bag out of your hand!!

Through the Crikey Cafe for obligatory hot chips (although I do notice they have some healthier option this time too which is great to see) and a babycino and coffee on the way we find our seats in the Crocoseum just in time for an aerial display of yellow-tailed cockatoos, macaws, lorikeets and galahs and even the local ibis took a break from raiding rubbish bins to join in too!

Tulsi LOVES the Croc Show, as the staff bring out all different birds and animals, a jabiru with its super long legs and the SPOILER ALERT… fake snake bite which she finds hilarious!

Then it’s time to bring out the Croc! Anticipation rises in the Crocoseum as everyone waits to see how big today's croc is going to be! Charlie, today's croc is definitely a biggie. Charlie is the name of our neighbour, who Tulsi LOVES, and calls Cheeky Charlie so of course the enormous croc is renamed instantly to Cheeky Charlie!

Cheeky Charlie is obviously hungry and keen to perform. He is led along a rolling buffet, behinning with a fish snapped in his rather large and sharp jaws on one side of the Crocoseum.

He’s keen to protect his habitat in the water and quickly goes through the water after one of the keepers who bravely, rather him than me, feeds him or should I say throws him a fish.

Then Cheeky Charlie makes his way along the channel of water to an overhanging platform where he demonstrates his rather powerful and impressive ‘tail walk’ to snatch the sausages the brave or rather silly keeper is dangling for him.

Having had his starters, Cheeky Charlie makes his way to the centre stage grass area for his main course of whole chicken!

Pleased with his moving smorgasbord, Cheeky Charlie heads back to the water and the keepers encourage him back along the tunnel into the enclosures behind. This area is a really good vantage point to get a great view of all the big crocs.

We were here a few weeks earlier during the winter school holidays and the Irwin family presented the mid-day Croc Show, which Tulsi LOVED because she got to see the people in real life from all the photos and pictures all over the zoo. Part way through the show they play a video tribute to Steve and his conservation work and at three years old Tulsi asks me about Steve and is he their Daddy and do they miss him. For this reason alone I have had to explain to our daughter about death, to which she asks “why do old people hang on so long?!” Toddler logic!

We stay until the end of the show there is a FANTASTIC Youtube, or “Loo-toob” as Tulsi puts it, video which has become a bit of an anthem in our household and “I’m on top of the world! I’m gonna push it, push it to the limits” is a regular outburst!!

Show over and eager to see some more animals we head downstairs to find the enormous crocodile and it is now climbing time.

I have watched kids of all ages climb on this fella for the last few years. From little babies to school kids, even when they are at the age when they starting to be worried about whether things are ‘cool’ or not, kids throw caution to the wind and forget their ‘cred’ as they clamber and climb to the tip of its nose. The brave ones jump off and the more cautious slide down its side. But even the little tiny ones find so much joy in this HUGE beast, Tulsi has loved it since before she was one, we’d sit her on it and in its mouth and over the last thirty-six months she has slowly grown more and more capable and confident and now scales the beast as she climbs right to the tip of its nose. Where she then cries “Mummy!!! Get me down!!!” Not so brave yet!! She has it to herself for a few minutes today much to her delight!

I think for lots of local mums, kids and parents with their annual pass and young kids this crocodile has been a fixture in their family memories and many happy times will be remembered.

As we take the obligatory photo of child in crocodile mouth, I mentally search through three and half years of the exact same photo just with different age and size of Tulsi in it.

Into Roo Haven armed with our bag of roo food, which you can buy at kiosks throughout the zoo, we search the trees and lawns for some hungry looking kangaroos or wallabies. The thing that is lovely and different about Australia Zoo is the open space and landscaping, which makes it a beautiful place to spend time as an adult or a child, on weekdays when it is quiet I have put a blanket on the ground in the Roo Haven and laid with my daughter when she was little under all the trees.

There are wide open space where you have to seek out the kangaroos where they want to be, and if they don’t want to be fed or stroked they can simply hop off or ignore you like most of the roos did today!! Obviously, they had eaten their fill in the morning before the croc-show so respecting their ability to stick to portion control we gave them a stroke and moved on! Saving our roo food for later.

We walked through to the wetlands, for Tulsi to play on the dinosaur statues.

A little further and I got to watch a brolga performing its dance and song which was magical to witness, such graceful birds and I realise I always experience something different when I come here and although it is a zoo it feels like you are still witnessing animals' natural behaviours that you would feel honoured to see in the wild. 

We head towards Africa, home to Tulsi's favourite animal the rhino and mine the zebra. On the way passing by Daddy's favourite the red panda and all our second-favourites… the tigers.

It is a lovely walk with various tropical plants and flowers lining the way with a big blue sky to Asia where the red panda was looking healthy and its fur shiny as it ran up and down its logs and branches for everyone to see. Daddy’s cup full we continued on toward Africa and passed through Asia just as the Tiger show was starting… and believe it you won’t we bumped into our lovely neighbour Cheeky Charlie! Tulsi was stoked and even more so when he said he had watched his same-named crocodile in the crocodile show too!

Perfect timing, we all enjoyed watching the tiger show together and we decided the reason why Woolworths Online never deliver us the cream/milk we order each week is because the tigers at the zoo are drinking too much of it!!! In the summer the tigers jump in and out of the water during the show but we all agree it is understandable they don’t today as although it is sunny it’s still pretty cold!

Tiger show over we all walk on and part company with our neighbours as they head to Bindi's Island to see the limas and her treehouse while we walk up to Africa. Greeted as we arrive by Giraffes being fed and the zebras looking barcode stripy! Apparently, like our fingerprints, no two zebras stripes are the same or no two giraffes patterns are the same.

Stunning creatures in a setting that you could easily forget that you aren't looking at an African plain. As we make our way along we watch the baby rhino having some ‘bouup’ (that’s Tulsi for breast milk!)

She loves to ask all about how the different baby animals get fed and looked after by their mummy and daddy; that’s being three I guess!

When we reach the meerkats, it’s great seeing them take turns being watchman. As the day starts to draw to a close and the sun starts to drop, the view through the meerkat enclosure and out across Africa from the little yellow blossomed nook is special.

Time for a triceratops climb before we take the zoo train back to the start of the zoo and head home.

We kept it short for today as the beauty of our annual pass is we can come back any day and see all the other animals and experience the other fun things to do there, like the new water park, jumping pillow and animal cup rides.

We walk back to the Jaguar wondering if it has filled its battery as much as we have filled our cups at the zoo today. Pleasantly surprised and relieved to find it has charged up nicely Tulsi helps me unplug the lead before we put everything in back the car. As we drive out of the zoo Tulsi asks again all about the animals in the signs and members of the Irwin family too.

We are all thrilled to be back in the Jaguar I-Pace and before Tulsi falls asleep instantly because we are in an EV, at 4 pm, otherwise known in parenting world as “dangerous o-clock” we all conclude the Jaguar is a pretty cool car to take to the zoo!

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Tace Clifford
About Tace Clifford
Tace Clifford founded BabyDrive in 2017 after discovering a huge information gap in mainstream car reviews that left new parents and expanding families in the dark when it came to one of the biggest purchasing decisions of their lives.

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