Zoos in Australia are nearly all centres of excellence for wildlife conservation and usually double as research hubs seeming ways of improving conditions for exhibits.
Sydney's own 'city zoo' is Taronga, spectacularly perched on the harbour-side at Mosman Ã¢ÂÂ with its own jetty so you can even arrive by boat. Taronga believes in Ã¢ÂÂa shared future for wildlife and peopleÃ¢ÂÂ and every effort is made to present the animals in as near natural habitat as possible.
That said, there are numerous interactive areas where the public can actually 'mingle' with animals such as the lovely gorillas and 'play' with them Ã¢ÂÂ although always safe behind a screen.
The trick with Taronga is to start at the top and stroll down through exhibits (there are several routes) because it's on a steep hillside. No worries, though Ã¢ÂÂ there's a chairlift that takes you back to the top each time so you can wander down again!
For a small extra charge, you can enter the areas of some of the more cuddly animals and get your photo taken by a professional photographer, although this does not apply to the delightful koalas as it is illegal to touch these endangered creatures in New South Wales.
For sealife, visit Taronga's Great Southern Oceans exhibit filled with sea lions, fur seals, penguins, pelicans and leopard Seals.
But if you really want to see more about life underwater, you'll need to pop down to the Sydney Aquarium at Darling Harbour.
There you can immerse yourself in a tour of Australia's coastal and riverine environment, with exhibits depicting a wide variety of native habitats including swamps. See more than 600 fish species in a unique undersea set with nearly 70 metres of tunnels so the fish appear to swim around and above you. Are you looking at them, or are they looking at you?
If you have time to get out of the city, a couple of hours away is the Featherdale Wildlife Park. This unobtrusive sanctuary started life as a poultry farm but is now home to a huge collection of Australian native wildlife including kangaroos and wallabies, wombats and Tasmanian Devils, echidnas, koalas and many of the vast variety of snakes, frogs and other reptiles. A large aviary houses eagles, owls, cockatoos and other native birds. There is even a kids' petting park where young people can get up close and personal with some suitably docile farm animals.