The best school holiday programs, animal experiences for kids

School holidays and weekends are great times to enjoy the best animal activities for kids in your local area.

We’ve compiled a growing list of places across Australia that are sure to keep your little one (and you) entertained.


Child feeding kangaroo at Symbio Wildlife Park during school holidays

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Animal-based activities offer kids more than just a fun day out.

They provide interactive experiences that can shape a child’s understanding and appreciation of animals, wildlife, and nature.

Now the Christmas school holidays are here, we share a list of some of the best animal sanctuaries, wildlife parks, and interactive animal activities for the family to enjoy.

From watching the penguins on Phillip Island to swimming with whale sharks in WA or being a mini zookeeper for the day, keep reading to find the perfect school holiday program for your little animal lover.

Why choose animal-based activities for kids

Caring for animals has many benefits for children.

It encourages responsibility, can build confidence, and teaches kids about empathy, the environment, nature, and conservation.

While there’s a lot of animal-loving kids out there, parents might not know the school holiday animal activities for kids near them.

In fact, there are many places and events across the country that give kids the chance to interact with, learn about, or help raise money for animals.

So, now the school holidays are here, we’ve put together a list of the best and most popular animal events for kids to keep them entertained these holidays.

Future Vet Kids Camp (QLD, NSW, VIC)

Future Vet Kids Camp is a veterinary-inspired summer school holiday program in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.

Dedicated to providing a unique camp experience that educates, inspires, and entertains the aspiring veterinarian kids.

The program caters to kids aged nine to 16 and teaches kids about the profession of veterinary medicine.

Kids will also learn responsible pet ownership and a love and appreciation of all animals and their habitats.

Visit the Future Vet Kids Camp website for more details or to make a booking.

Taronga Zoo Junior Keepers for a Day – NSW

Every Saturday, Junior Keepers aged nine to 11 can spend a hands-on day at Taronga to learn the daily routines and responsibilities of a Taronga Keeper.

Through a range of interactive activities and special behind-the-scenes visits, participants will have up close encounters with some of Taronga’s Australian native animals and learn how to care for and protect them into the future. 

For more information about becoming a Taronga Zookeeper for the Day, visit their website.

Cairns Aquarium – Qld

At the well-known Cairns Aquarium in Far North Queensland, Kids can learn about, and see, a variety of marine life that’s found in the Great Barrier Reef.
The aquarium offers daily presentations, animal feeding shows, and touch tank experiences.
It’s a great educational and interactive school holiday experience for marine-loving kids. So get in touch with them now for more information or to arrange a visit with your marine-loving little one!

Featherdale Wildlife Zookeeper for a Day – NSW

Featherdale Wildlife Park’s Zookeeper for a Day program in Sydney gives kids aged eight to 13 the chance to learn about and care for a variety of animals.
The little keepers will spend the day with Featherdale zookeepers as well as an educational officer to take park in a range of activities.
The kids get to make friends with a range of animals, while learning about their specific diets and care needs.
Importantly, the program includes information about the zoo’s enrichment programs to educate and engage the animals across a variety of key species.
Visit Featherdale’s website for more information on the program, including how to book.

Phillip Island penguin experience

Phillip Island Nature Parks, Phillip Island: Kids can witness the famous Penguin Parade at sunset, where little penguins return to their burrows after a day at sea.
They can also explore the “Antarctic Journey” exhibit, which provides an immersive experience of the Southern Ocean and its inhabitants.

RSPCA NSW School Holiday Program

We all know the great work the RSPCA does in protecting animals and helping them find homes (read our story on rescued puppy farm dog, Lily, here)
But many people don’t realise the RSPCA has a large education department targeted at school kids.
During the school holidays, RSPCA NSW gives kids aged eight to 17 the opportunity to spend a half or full day at various RSPCA NSW shelters or Care Centres across the state.
They will get up close and personal with cats, dogs, ducks, pocket pets and other animals.
The kids will be taught all about responsible pet ownership, as well as how to care for and respect all creatures, great and small.

Australia Zoo Junior Zookeeper-for-a-day

The Khaki Explorer, Discovery and Extreme programs at Australia Zoo are fun-filled zoo keeping adventure programs that cater to different age groups from four to 15.
Kids can help zookeepers with feeding and cleaning in the interactive enclosures and make toys for the animals.
There’s also the chance to be close to furry mammals, cuddly farm animals, feathery bird friends, and smooth, scaly reptiles.
They’ll also get to go behind-the-scenes to special wildlife enclosures to experience real zookeeper life.
Every season is different and so is their Zookeeper for a Day Khaki programs.
For details, visit www.australiazoo.com.au/education

Symbio Wildlife Park Junior Keeper Camp

Symbio Wildlife Park’s Junior Keeper Camp Program is for kids aged 7 to 12, held each school holiday period and with multiple days to choose from.
They get to spend the day walking in the footsteps of a zoo keeper as they learn about Symbio’s wildlife, get up close and personal animal experiences and make a lot of new friends along the way.
Some of the activities include feeding and preparing enrichments for the animals, helping the keepers with their daily duties, and more.
For more information, visit https://symbiozoo.com.au/junior-keeper-camp/

Tasmania’s Seahorse World

Seahorse World in Tasmania offers a Kids Discovery Program during the school holidays for ages four to 10.
Kids get to feed sharks and seahorses, and even touch a seahorse, hermit crab or starfish!
At least one parent or guardian needs to accompany children.
For more information, visit https://seahorseworld.com.au/shop/kids-discovery-program/

Swim with the Ningaloo whale sharks

Do you have a child who would love the thrill of swimming with the largest fish in the world?
Swimming with a whale shark is an extraordinary experience for people of all ages, kids included.
Kids aged six and up are permitted to swim if they have experience swimming.
Whale sharks are gentle filter-feeding sharks the largest fish in the world.
Whale shark dive tours are offered in Exmouth on the Ningaloo Reef.
For more information, visit www.visitningaloo.com.au/things-to-see-and-do/whale-sharks

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium Shark Dive

Diving with sharks at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium is one of the most exhilarating animal activities for kids.
They’ll meet Grey Nurse Sharks and massive stingrays, Port Jackson Sharks, Wobbegong Sharks and hundreds of amazing sea creatures.
No previous diving experience is required – the dive includes tuition and safety training. 
Permissible for kids aged 14; however, children under 16 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.
Click here to buy your tickets to Sea Life’s Shark dive.

Sydney Zoo Mini Zookeeper for a Day

Sydney Zoo’s Mini Zookeeper for a Day program teaches children aged eight to 12 what it takes to become a zookeeper.
It also provides an opportunity to get hands-on experience feeding and caring for a range of different animals.
Mini zookeepers will learn cool facts and important information about animal conservation.
They’ll also learn about animal training and what they can do to protect rare and endangered animals.
They’ll even get the chance to get creative and make something that will enrich the lives of our beautiful animals!
Click here for more details about Sydney Zoo’s Mini Zookeeper for a day activity and to book.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary ‘Wild Island Adventure’

This sanctuary offers a range of activities, including the “Wild Island Adventure” program.
Kids can explore the island, feed lorikeets, and learn about the sanctuary’s conservation efforts.
They can also cuddle a koala and hand-feed kangaroos.

There you have it – some of the best animal activities for your little one to enjoy these Christmas school holidays.

We know this is only a small list, but we will continue to add to it.

So get in touch to tell us your favourite wildlife, marine, or zoo school holiday programs or animal experiences for kids!

READ MORE FROM ANIMAL FRIENDLY LIFE

Caroline Zambrano

Pet Journo was founded by Caroline Zambrano, a lifelong pet parent whose 20 years’ combined experience in journalism and public relations and deep knowledge of the Australian pet industry make her a valuable and unique storyteller in the pet care marketplace.