The Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia has a long and glorious history. Set on over 50 acres since the turn of the 20th century, the Zoo looks out over the magnificent harbor. Views of the old bridge and the new Opera House dazzle the eye, along with the green hills and blue sky.
The spectacular view begins even before reaching the zoo, with a delightful ferry ride from Circular Quay followed by a short cable-car ride up to the zoo entrance. Visitors making their way up winding paths among the enclosures can enjoy the view of both the harbor and the animals.
And what interesting animals they have! Kookaburras, wombats, Tasmanian Devils, and all manner of native species are found here, along with the more traditional chimpanzees and giraffes. The giraffes are particularly interesting since you get such a close-up view of these gentle, large-eyed animals.
A new elephant enclosure is just one of the many interesting sights, just part of the Zoo’s 12-year redevelopment effort, and a part of the Asian Rainforest project.
Housing over 200 animals and 27,000 plants, this artificial jungle is home to Malayan tapirs, small-clawed otters, silvery gibbons, and many more. Set along a forest river with high waterfalls, you can sometimes catch sight of the Fishing Cats hunting in the nearby pools.
In addition to the animals, there’s an entire Asian Village with statues, stone carvings, and the Taronga Food Market. The Zoo has plans to house five Asian Elephants within the large area as part of the breeding and conservation program.
But don’t wait. Come see the koalas chew on eucalyptus and you just might get kissed by one. Normally shy and sometimes cranky, one has been known to interact with visitors. But, beware of the claws!
The Zoo has a number of innovative viewing programs, including private tours and even night tours.
Since so many of the animals are naturally shy or nocturnal, it’s often difficult to get a good look. Arranging for a private tour can give visitors the opportunity to take a closer look, sometimes even holding the inhabitants. A nocturnal tour, the so-called ‘snore and roar’ option, allows visitors to get a good view of cats and others that are frequently more active at night.
Kangaroos may be the animal most closely associated with Australia in the popular imagination, but the Zoo has many other indigenous species.
The duck-billed platypus is one of the strangers looking creatures – very shy and gentle, a hold-over from pre-historic times. These evolutionary marvels can swim well and also move lightning-fast through vegetation.
There are dingos, native yellow dogs that have roamed the Outback for 3,000 years. Not far away there are Tasmanian Devils, the world’s largest carnivorous marsupials. Not least, there is echidna – a round bristled ball of fur with a tiny face and long snout.
But even the more common animals that are found in other zoos are fascinating. There are Fjordland penguins galore, Red pandas, Francoise langurs, and hundreds more.
Travel is easy with several options: car, bus, or ferry. Visit http://www.zoo.nsw.gov.au/ for details.