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Taronga Zoo Sydney

Taronga Zoo Sydney is located in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It has been operating since 1879.

The zoo is operated by the Taronga Conservation Society Australia (TCSA) who also operate Taronga Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo.

They are the subject of the Channel 9 series ‘Taronga: Who’s who in the zoo’ and the ABC series ‘Wild life at the zoo’.

Attractions

Sky Safari

Take a ride across Taronga Zoo viewing the exhibits from above. You’ll enjoy brilliant views out across Sydney Harbour as well as the elephant exhibit.

Playground

A range of playgrounds are located around Taronga Zoo featuring traditional play elements along with water based play activities.

Red Energy Seals for the Wild Presentation

Watch the underwater antics of Taronga’s seal colony as they frolic in their daily shows. Three different species of seal are trained to perform in the show, the Californian sea lion, the Australian sea lion and the New Zealand fur seal. These rotate performance duties so they may not all be on display each day.

QBE Free Flight Bird Show

The daily free flight bird shows allow you to take in the graceful sight of Taronga Zoo’s bird stars as they soar overhead. You can watch species such as Andean condors, galahs and red tailed black cockatoos as they take to the skies.

Wild Ropes Challenge

Wild Ropes is an obstacle course with challenges such as a flying fox above the ground. This challenge has a separate entrance to the zoo so can be completed separately or as part of a zoo visit.

Location

Sydney,

New South Wales, Australia

Year Opened

1879

Land Size

21ha (52acres)

Number of Animals

4,000

Number of Species

350

— AD —

History


In March 1879, the Zoological Society of NSW was founded. This group went on to build the first public zoo in New South Wales (NSW) in 1884 at Billy Goat Swamp in Moore Park.


During 1908 the zoo’s direction changed when Albert Sherbourne Le Souef, the zoo’s secretary journeyed to Germany and saw the barless habitats at Hamburg Zoo. Billy Goat Swamp was too small for these plans though and he sought a new site.


During April 1912, the NSW government granted 17.4ha (43 acres) of land that were then part of Ashton Park where a zoo could be built. During 1913 the zoo’s management passed to a trust which was named the New Zoological Gardens Trust. This then became the Taronga Zoological Park Trust.


Taronga Zoo was named for the aboriginal word for ‘beautiful view.’


During April of 1916 a further 3.6ha (9 acres) were granted.


At the new site an elephant temple, monkey pits, seal ponds, the top entrance, aviaries, paths, roadways and refreshment rooms were built. Moving from Moore Park to Taronga Zoo meant 228 mammals, 64 reptiles and 552 birds crossed the harbour. Many were moved on flat top barges.


On the 7th October 1916 Taronga Zoo opened to the public.


Further construction continued with a giraffe house completed in 1923, an aquarium in 1927, a floral clock in 1928, a Thar mountain in 1932 and the tiger pits during 1939. From 1940-1960 the zoo opened koala, ape and large cat habitats under the directorship of Edward Hallstrom.


A critical review in 1967 spurred changes at the zoo. Taronga Zoo changed its focus to be on scientific research, conservation and education. As part of this the zoo completed the nocturnal and platypus houses, waterfowl ponds and a walk-in aviary. A vet centre and an education centre were also completed. The zoo lost their circus image by removing the elephant ride, monkey circus, carousel and train.


During June 1973, the Trust was replaced with the Zoological Parks Board of NSW. In 2008-2009 they renamed this board the Taronga Conservation Society to better reflect their global reach.


In 2000 a 12-year masterplan began which invested $250 million in Taronga Zoo Sydney. This led to the building of the Backyard to Bush Precinct, Wild Asia with its Asian Elephants, Great Southern Oceans a sea habitat, an updated chimpanzee habitat and a redeveloped front entrance.


The zoo opened the Wild Asia precinct with Asian elephants during 2006.


On July 4th 2009 the zoo celebrated the birth of Australia’s first elephant calf.


In April 2014, their Royal Highnesses’, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge along with their son George visited Taronga Zoo Sydney to open the Bilby enclosure for a bilby called George.


During 2017 the zoo opened the Tiger Trek habitat featuring Sumatran tigers.

In 2020 the zoo reopened its African savannah habitat following extensive renovations. It featured African lions which left the zoo when construction on Tiger Trek began.

taronga zoo sydney

The seal show theatre at Taronga Zoo Sydney

Star Animals

Luk Chai the Asian Elephant

Luk Chai was the first elephant to be born in Australia when his mother Thong Dee gave birth in 2009. He moved to Taronga Western Plains Zoo in 2015 with his mother and then to Melbourne Zoo in December 2020.

Mr. Munro

For many years Mr Munro was the only Fiordland crested penguin held permanently at any zoo in the world. He was found washed ashore in November 2006 and cared for by the zoo. He currently lives with a number of female penguins which have been rescued in recent years. Another pair has also been rescued and put on display at Melbourne Zoo.

taronga zoo sydney

The facade of the historic aquarium at Taronga Zoo Sydney

Main Exhibits


Rainforest Trail

Opened in 2006 the stars of this area are the Asian elephant family. Rescued from Asia they have flown here to form a family which has already experienced several births. Also on display are small-clawed otters, pygmy hippopotamus, gibbons and many birds.


African Savannah

This area reopened following extensive renovations. It maintains the giraffe herd with one of the best views across Sydney harbor. It also includes meerkats, fennec fox, zebras and allowed the return of lions. Nearby is the habitat for Taronga Zoo’s well known chimpanzee troop.


Reptile World

As you enter this exhibit you can see the world’s largest lizard, the Komodo dragon on display. Inside see a range of the world’s snakes, lizards, turtles and frogs on display.


Seal Walk

Venture to the sea side to watch pelicans, seals and penguins swim. Go beneath the waves and watch their antics behind glass windows.


Kids Trail

Venture from a backyard with pets such as guinea pigs and rabbits along with house guests such as spiders to the bush. In the bush you can venture underground to see wombats in their burrows. Above ground are koalas, quokkas, emus and kangaroos. A farm yard exhibit features sheep, chickens and pigs.


Australian Walkabout

Australia’s unique creatures are on show here. One of the star’s is the platypus featured in a nocturnal house helping you to see them. Koala’s, kangaroos, emus, echidnas and more are also on display.


In the Australian rainforest aviary, you can see a range of colorful birds as they fly around you.


Gorilla Forest

This habitat is the home of Taronga Zoo’s Western lowland gorilla group.

Tiger Trek

The Tiger Trek habitat takes visitors to a national park in Sumatra where you can discover the Sumatran tiger family in a number of enclosures. Just before the entrance to this enclosure is an enclosure for sun bears.

taronga zoo sydney

The lowland gorilla enclosure at Taronga Zoo Sydney

References

Taronga Zoo Website – https://taronga.org.au/sydney-zoo

Elephant Online Database – Koehl, Dan, (2020). Luk Chai, an Asian at Melbourne Zoo in Australia. Elephant Encyclopedia, available online retrieved 2 January 2021 at https://www.elephant.se/database2.php?

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