LATEST: TERRI Irwin has said the plan to build on-site accommodation at Australia Zoo is "the next natural step" in the zoo's evolution.
The plan to expand the 29.21ha site adjoining the zoo at Beerwah, with eight cabins, 32 recreational vehicle sites and 68 bush camp sites, a reception area and amenities, was approved by Sunshine Coast Council in July.
Mrs Irwin told The Courier-Mail she hopes the change would bring more groups to the zoo.
"Wouldn't it be great to hear the animals and experience what it is like at the zoo after dark?" she said.
The accommodation plan was the next phase in Australia Zoo's expansion, Mrs Irwin said, following the opening of new exhibits in recent years, like Bindi's Island and Africa.
You will soon be able to sleep over at Australia Zoo
INITIAL REPORT, July 22, 2016: ANIMAL lovers from far and wide will be able to enjoy an overnight encounter at Australia Zoo following Sunshine Coast Council's approval of the world-famous wildlife conservation facility and tourist attraction's expansion plans.
Australia Zoo will expand onto its adjoining 29.21 ha Beerwah site, providing a dedicated 'live in' experience for zoo patrons.
The nature based tourism project will consist of eight cabins, 32 recreational vehicle sites and 68 bush camp sites, a reception area and amenities.
Planning and development portfolio councillor Christian Dickson said the project had been architecturally designed to blend with the site's natural attributes.
"The project will be constructed and operated by Australia Zoo as another major addition to the existing internationally recognised conservation based tourist attraction," Cr Dickson said.
"All buildings are single storey and include existing and restored natural bush land buffers to provide the ultimate camping experience in the most authentic and natural surroundings.
"Visitors staying at the camping site will be able to walk directly to the zoo via a pedestrian link across Irwin Road.
"It will be a huge economic boost to the local economy and will continue to boost the profile of the incredible Sunshine Coast worldwide.''
Division 1 Councillor Rick Baberowski said overnight stays at zoos were becoming increasingly popular around the world and would become a real asset for our tourism.
"Wild animal overnight encounters are offered at Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra zoos, so it is very exciting to see our very own Sunshine Coast attraction is set to do the same," Cr Baberowski said.
"There is a growing demand for more immersive and experiential activities in zoos which are continuing to reinvent themselves to offer varying experiences to connect visitors with nature and wildlife.
"The approved short-term accommodation in a natural setting will be an additional attraction for tourists or travellers in its own right; a way to get away from it all and reconnect with the natural world.
"Offering a range of accommodation from camping and self-contained accommodation will give people a once-in-a-lifetime experience which not only increases the visitors' knowledge and passion for wildlife, but also supports and increases Australia Zoo's conservation visions.
"This carefully considered and 'custom designed' project at Beerwah will support the continued expansion of Australia Zoo as an international tourist destination, providing an exceptional range of animal and nature based attractions, experiences and facilities."
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