Iglu Students Sydney and Brisbane

Taronga Zoo

With almost 4,000 animals and breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour, Taronga Zoo is one of the largest zoos and one of the most picturesque!

Taronga Zoo sits on the harbour foreshore in the northern Sydney suburb of Mosman. The best way to get there is via a ferry from Circular Quay – and being just a quick 12 minute trip, you can sit back, relax and take in the beauty of Sydney Harbour. At the Circular Quay ferry terminal, you can buy a ZooPass – an all-in-one entry ticket that includes return ferry transfers – for just over $50.

Taronga Zoo saw its Heritage-listed Entrance plaza fully restored to celebrate its 95th anniversary last year, and the zoo’s commitment to wildlife, education and conservation breeding programs reflects its vision of securing a shared future for wildlife and people.

It's a great place to see all your favourite Australian animals: kangaroos, koalas, echidnas, goannas, emus and crocodiles. The zoo is also home to a number of iconic African animals: lions, elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, hippopotamus’ and giraffes. Highly recommended is the Tasmanian Devil Breeding Centre. Wild populations of this legendary animal have plummeted by more than 60% in the last decade due to an invariably fatal infectious cancer, Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD). Taronga is part of an Australian conservation program to establish a disease-free genetic insurance population while research continues into a cure.

Visitors to Taronga’s amazing walk-through exhibit can witness at close hand the growing joeys (infant offspring) from the zoo’s vital breeding program. The zoo is also home to a number of iconic exotic animals: lions, Asian elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, pygmy hippos and giraffes. Taronga Zoo boasts a ‘Wild Asia’ precinct where visitors can immerse themselves in an Asian rainforest environment. In 2006, five Asian elephants from Thailand were brought to Sydney for a conservation breeding program, and in 2009, one of them, Thong Dee, gave birth to a male calf called Luk Chai, the first elephant to be born in Australia.

The zoo has since welcomed two other calves, Pathi Harn and Tukta (both born in 2010) and a fourth calf is due in late 2013. At Taronga Zoo’s ‘Great Southern Oceans’ exhibit, you can view penguins from underwater viewing areas, and visit an underwater research vessel. It is the only place in the world – other than the wild – where you can see a leopard seal. The highlight of any visit to Taronga Zoo is the seal show, held twice a day at the 950-seat outdoor seal theatre. Discover the miraculous aquatic abilities of these highly intelligent creatures – including catching fish, climbing and diving – and learn all about the challenges and perils of the marine environment, and how you can help protect ocean wildlife and environments.

Also popular with visitors is the amazing Free Flight Bird Show. This inspiring and educational demonstration is held in an open amphitheatre overlooking a spectacular Sydney backdrop. A variety of iconic Australian birds and occasionally an awesome Andean Condor display a diverse range of natural behaviours and talents during the performance. The presentation also features some opportunities for audience participation and the chance to witness at close hand the beauty and fascinating behaviours of our feathered friends.

There are also a number of guest activities including sleepovers, various guided tours and animal encounters at the Zoo. For information on these, as well as zookeeper talks and other activities, visit http://www.taronga.org.au/taronga-zoo.

Image: Courtesy of Lorinda Taylor

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