ROCKHAMPTON ZOO, Australia --
The sounds of dingoes barking and birds chirping mixed with the laughter of about 50 Marines and Sailors with Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines and Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, as they walked through the Rockhampton Zoo, July 8, 2011.
The Marines were touring the zoo during a brief liberty period before the start of exercise Talisman Sabre 2011.
For almost all the Marines present, this deployment is their first deployment to Australia.
“This is my first time coming here,” said Cpl. Madral Tapual, a mortarman with Weapons Co. BLT 2/7, 31st MEU. “It’s cool to be able to experience stuff like this.”
During the tour the Marines viewed many foreign animals such as monitor lizards, kangaroos, koala bears, chimpanzees and much more exotic wildlife.
“The zoo was pretty cool; we got to see a lot of their critters in their environment which was a lot different from ours,” said Sgt. Todd J. Martin, an assistant section leader and machine gunner also with Weapons Co. “My favorite part was just being in Australia, just being able to experience this kind of thing. I’ve been a lot of other places so coming here is a new thing for me.”
As the tour ended, many Marines left the zoo happy to have had the chance to visit.
“This is the first time I have set foot on Australia,” said Martin. “So to be able to do stuff like this within the first few days after getting here makes this a time I will never forget.”
Marines and Sailors of the 31st MEU are here preparing for Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011, a bilateral exercise designed to increase interoperability, flexibility, and readiness between Australia and the U.S. This exercise and training helps to maintain peace and stability in the Pacific region.