Safari Park prepares to open 'Walkabout Australia'

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Dozens of workers are racing to finish construction of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park's newest exhibit, "Walkabout Australia".

It is scheduled to open to the public Friday, May 25. Monday, 10News was the first station invited for a behind-the-scenes tour. The various habitats are meant to reflect the deserts, plains, and rainforests of Australia.

But the heart of the exhibit is a large open area in which 20 kangaroos and wallaby will be able to roam free with Safari Park guests.

"I think that the public will feel like there's virtually no barriers almost on the walkway going up and when they get inside. They're just going to have so much fun," said San Diego Zoo architect Robyn Badger.

Zookeepers have been working with the animals before the exhibit opens, getting them comfortable with their new habitat and with being around humans.

The kangaroos and wallaby are likely to approach guests on the path. If it happens, guests are asked to stay calm and avoid harassing the animals.

While people are not encouraged to reach out to touch the animals first, if the animals make contact, it is okay to gently pet them.

"If you're calm and you're respectful of those animals, they're absolutely going to want to come and see what you're up to," said Animal Care Manager Steve Metzler.

Other animals at Walkabout Australia include tree kangaroos, magpie geese, and cassowary.

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