If you're an animal lover, you'll love touring around the Gold Coast. Hire a car from East Coast Car Rentals and get up close and personal with some of Australia's fluffiest inhabitants.
1) Kai the baby tiger
Rent a car from the Gold Coast and meet Kai, Dreamworld's Tiger Island's newest resident. Kai, the first tiger to be born at Dreamworld in seven years, is three months old. He has been fully vaccinated and has already firmly cemented his position amongst the other tigers as part of the family.
If you'd like a chance to play with this ball of fuzz (and let's be honest, who wouldn't?), all you have to do is book a VIP Tiger Cub Experience. You'll get to play with Kai for a solid 20 minutes, cuddling him and taking photos that will make your Instagram followers burn with jealousy. At the end of the experience you'll take home a Conservation Show bag, which will tell you more about the park's attempts to protect tigers in the wild.
This is especially important, as tigers in the wild are suffering. Facing threats like poachers and habitat loss, only 3200 tigers remain in the wild, according to National Geographic. To put this into perspective, just a century ago there were 100,000. By doing the Tiger Cub Experience, you'll be contributing towards anti-poaching efforts in Siberia, India and Sumatra. So you get to hang out with a tiger cub and help protect them in the wild at the same time – it's a win-win situation!
2) Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Get a hug from Australia's dopiest marsupial when you do the Koala Experience at Currumbin Wildlife sanctuary. Just a short drive from Dreamworld, you'll find a huge range of animals at this sanctuary, including barn owls, echidnas and platypuses.
Having already seen the Tasmanian tiger go extinct in the early 19th century, we don't want to lose the Tasmanian devil too.
Heavily involved in conservation, this sanctuary works hard to ensure that some of Australia's most endangered animals live for future generations to see. The Tasmanian devil, for example, is hugely endangered, partially thanks to Devil Facial Tumour Disease, a cancer that only affects these animals.
Having already seen the Tasmanian tiger go extinct in the early 19th century, we don't want to lose the Tasmanian devil too. In addition to the devil, the sanctuary also does work to preserve the brush tailed wallaby, tinker frogs and several bird species.
Getting your picture taken with a koala (or a possum, echidna, dingo or even a baby saltwater crocodile) supports the amazing work that this sanctuary does. The sanctuary helps protect this species by housing an unaffected 'insurance population' of these animals. If numbers drop too much in the wild, then the sanctuary devils can be reintroduced into wild areas in an attempt to remedy their population decimation.
3) Thunderbird Park
An hour's drive from the Gold Coast, at this park you'll quite literally be covered in animals. Every day at 2pm, you can feed the park's affable rainbow lorikeets. These colourful little birds will clamber all over your head and shoulders and even eat straight out of your hand. You'll also see the rare Albert's Lyrebird, butcher birds and even wedge tailed eagles.
Thunderbird Park also offers an interactive reptile show, called Jo's Ark. Joanna Malicki, a passionate reptile conservationist, is dedicated to educating and debunking some of of the myths about reptiles. During this show, you'll get to meet a host of charming little turtles, snakes, lizards and frogs. With plenty of opportunities for photos, you're sure to make for some memorable pictures.
There are a lot of other things to do at this park, including horse riding, mini golf and even laser skirmish, so it's best to set a whole day aside. You could hire a car from Brisbane and take a day trip, since the park is less than an hour away from there.