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There’s something special about getting up close and personal with wildlife – and we recently hosted 17 kids and their families for some animal magic and an action-packed experience at Australia Zoo.

It was a day to remember for our Australia Zoo “VIPs” and their families, with the jaw-snapping action of the Wildlife Warriors Show, a hands-on family portrait with a snake or koala and hundreds of animals to tick off the visit list.

Past the animal excitement, it was also an opportunity for families to spend time together, meet and connect with others outside of the hospital walls and create lifelong memories.

For kids like seven-year-old Mahalia, who has chromosome 22 microduplication (a condition caused by a duplication of chromosome 22 that may lead to physical or psychiatric difficulties) and has been in-and-out of hospital most of her life, an excursion to Australia Zoo doesn’t come around very often.

Her Mum, Kristie said: “We don’t go anywhere major during the school holidays or with too many people, so something like this is a real treat for us.”

It was also a first for six-year-old Patrick, who has multiple joint deformities and has spent most of last year in a chair, bed or halo gravity traction.

Patrick’s Dad, Patrick added: “For the whole of last year, he was just in a chair or bed in traction, so it was wonderful to get out and touch animals, be with people and experience it.”

Organised by our Patient and Family Support team, the Australia Zoo visit is just one way that the Foundation helps improve the hospital experience for sick kids and their families, during an emotional and at times uncertain journey.

To find out more about our patient and family support services, head here