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John Cleese has some beastly fun Down Under

January 5, 2006
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John Cleese has done more than his fair share of monkeying around over the years but if his current trip to Sydney is anything to go by, his animal instincts are still stronger than ever. The 66-year-old, who is currently vacationing in Oz, got the chance to make some interesting new friends when he supported a fundraising drive at the city's Taronga Zoo. The veteran comic first rose to fame as a member of the Monty Python comedy troupe, but there were no silly walks when he came face to face with a real life serpent called Sebastian. And that wasn't his only close encounter, as John was also photographed making the acquaintance of a koala bear, a saltwater crocodile and a wombat called Abdul.

The performer briefly took a more serious tone when he spoke to reporters of his love for the animal kingdom. "It really is important to conserve these magnificent creatures," he said. "Every now and then if you can get close to an animal you have a little moment of contact."

He went on to explain that even the most fearsome of animals can turn out to quite likable once you get to know them. "I've never seen a black rhino before and they've got a reputation for being really, really mean," he said. "But this was the nicest rhino. And I finally met an echidna."

Taronga Zoo is just one the many attractions that place Sydney among the South Pacific's most popular destinations. Visitors to the Australian city are invariably awed by its spectacular harbour, which includes the world famous Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. And sun-worshippers are likewise spoiled for choice, with legendary Bondi Beach being just one of 20 sandy havens that make up the surrounding coastline.

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Photo: AFP
John hams it up with serpent Sebastian. "Every now and then if you can get close to an animal you have a little moment of contact," said the comic
Photo: AFP
The 66-year-old, who took part in the zoo's fundraiser during his Australian holiday, also got to know one of the country's most celebrated residents

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