Blue Mountains Gazette

Jamala: The unforgettable wildlife adventure helping to save threatened animals

Jake the White Lion visits guests during their dinner in the uShaka Lodge Dining Room. Picture supplied
Jake the White Lion visits guests during their dinner in the uShaka Lodge Dining Room. Picture supplied

This is branded content for Jamala Wildlife Lodge.

Forget about the stress of buying the perfect gift this Christmas and then worrying the item will just end up in a cupboard and never used. How about dinner with a lion, sleeping next to a tiger, and patting a rhino as the best present ever?

Canberra's extraordinary Jamala Wildlife Lodge has introduced gift vouchers in time to make finding the perfect present for the person who has everything a walk in the (wildlife) park.

At the same time, you'll be helping to support breeding programs that can help save endangered animals from extinction.

Located at the edge of Lake Burley Griffin in the grounds of Canberra's National Zoo & Aquarium, the multi-award-winning attraction gives guests the opportunity to see some of the world's most magnificent and dangerous animals up very, very close.

It combines a luxury hotel stay with acclaimed wildlife encounters that are amongst the best in the world.

Comprising eighteen African-lodge inspired rooms sprawling across three distinct precincts, guests at Jamala dine and sleep surrounded by animals including lions and tigers (safely separated by glass) within arms reach.

Gaze into the eye of a tiger at Jamala Wildlife Lodge. Picture supplied
Gaze into the eye of a tiger at Jamala Wildlife Lodge. Picture supplied

The awe-inspiring Jamala adventure includes access to behind-the-scenes tours by expert guides who share their knowledge about the beloved residents.

Beyond the remarkable animal encounters, a stay at Jamala includes all that a luxury hotel stay should with great food and drink experiences, from pre-dinner cocktails served outdoors against a picturesque backdrop, to a gourmet African-inspired, four-course meal.

But unlike any regular hotel stay it's the frequent presence of the wild guests that lifts the experience to one that will stay etched in your memory forever.

Over dinner you're most likely to be joined by white lions Jake or Mischka, or maybe some hyenas.

When you head back to the sanctuary of your room there will be other animal surprises awaiting.

Jamala: The unforgettable wildlife adventure helping to save threatened animals
Jamala: The unforgettable wildlife adventure helping to save threatened animals

The Jungle Bungalows consist of five suites, each adjoining an enclosure within the zoo. A glass wall is all that separates you from a pride of lions, cheetah brothers, tigers or a pair of Malayan sun bears. Imagine lying in bed or taking a leisurely bath and gazing upon your amazing resident animal.

Staying in the Giraffe Treehouses mean you'll have some very tall neighbours peeking over your balcony rails inquiring after a tasty snack - the resident giraffe pair, Skye and Khamisi. The rooms overlook the Molonglo River towards Scrivener Dam. Head out to your front yard to mingle with deer and alpaca.

Or stay in the uShaka Lodge to immerse yourself in luxurious surroundings while enjoying the company of the curious and captivating Colobus Monkeys and the graceful inhabitants of the 200,000-litre shark tank.

Feeding a giraffe from your balcony is not the usual hotel experience. Picture supplied
Feeding a giraffe from your balcony is not the usual hotel experience. Picture supplied

Other priceless encounters include the chance to stroke Eco or Ubuntu, the zoo's white rhinoceroses, or pat a cheetah and hear him purr.

At the heart of the Jamala experience is a serious mission - harnessing the opportunity for its guests to see and find out more about these animals as a way to subtly impress on them the importance of ensuring they survive in the wild.

Added to the National Zoo & Aquarium in 2014, Jamala was a major step to bolster the programs run by the zoo. The funds it helps raise allow the zoo and Jamala to continue to grow and to subsidise their support for the conservation of animals in the wild through direct cash donations, national and international breeding programs, and educational programs.

Through tour and encounter revenue, during the last three years the zoo has donated more than $1,000,000 in cash and kind to various animal conservation and welfare groups, along with charities, in Australia and worldwide.

Get up close to the second largest land animal. Picture supplied
Get up close to the second largest land animal. Picture supplied

It's a proud achievement for the Tindale family who have owned and operated the National Zoo & Aquarium for 25 years. In 1998, Richard and Maureen Tindale purchased what was then an aquarium and small native wildlife park, after it had gone into liquidation for a second time.

They set about building a major zoo that housed animals in as comfortable surroundings as possible. As a result, most of the enclosure sizes at the zoo are far larger than found in other urban zoos and the husbandry and welfare are aimed at achieving world's best practices.

Today the zoo has grown in size and reputation to be a leading facility in Australia, helping to educate the next generation to take better care of our wildlife than previous generations have done.

To find out more about the Jimala Wildlife Lodge experience visit jamalawildlifelodge.com.au