Newest Review: ... our tour by visiting the Australian animal enclosure. This is a walk through area and contained kangaroos, wallerbies, emus, possums and ... more
A day at the zoo.
Taronga Zoo (Australia)
Member Name: anwar7
Taronga Zoo (Australia)
Advantages: informative and well managed
Disadvantages: its a zoo!
Last summer I took my children to Australia on a very special holiday. The trip included a few days in Sydney, staying in the rocks area of the city. With so much to do and see it this wonderful city, choosing was difficult! However we all agreed that we wanted to spend a day visiting Taronga as we had read good things about this conservation zoo. Let me start by saying I am not normally a fan of zoos, as I think animals should be left in the wild. However I was prepared to give this one the benefit of the doubt!
We were staying in the rocks area of the city, just a few minutes walk from circular quay. From the quay it is easy to take a ferry directly to the zoo. We decided to purchase a combined ticket that included the ferry, zoo entry and a ride on the sky safari. The cost of the ticket is 51.50 AUS dollars for an adult with children from 4-15 getting half price. The ferry trip takes about 15 minutes giving you spectacular views of the bridge and opera house. I think this is the best way to travel!
However it is also possible to take a bus from the city to the zoo which is situated at Bradley head road in the Mosman district. If you prefer you can drive to the zoo, although you will have to pay a 16 dollar car parking fee.
What is there to see?
As you arrive via the ferry, you will see the sky safari in front of you. The ride only takes a few minutes to reach the zoo, but it is fun soaring above the animal enclosures on your way in. When we visited in August the sky safari stopped running just before the zoo closed at 4.30. It was disappointing not to have had a second ride!
Once inside the zoo I suggest you pick up a free map and spend a few minutes deciding what you want to see. The zoo is quite large and there are several free keeper talks throughout the day. There are also animal encounters as well as shows on offer.
We started our tour by visiting the Australian animal enclosure. This is a walk through area and contained kangaroos, wallerbies, emus, possums and other indigenous animals. We had seen many of these animals on out travels and it was interesting to see them up close and have the opportunity to ask the resident keeper questions about them.
The Koala house is accessed via steps and you can walk around the enclosure to see these delightful animals close up. It is fun to time your visit to coincide with feeding time! There is a koala encounter available for an extra cost that includes having your photo taken with a Koala (you are not allowed to hold Koalas in New South Wales as it is illegal). The cost of the encounter was really expensive so we gave this a miss.
I have always wanted to see a Tasmanian devil and their enclosure was large with lots of interesting information about their struggle for survival. The zoo are making great efforts to save these amazing creatures and you can join the conservation programme by contributing financially. I was a also keen to see the elusive platypus as we had sat for hours by a river hoping for a sighting with no luck! They really are very odd looking animals!
My children were both keen to see the Gorillas and we were not disappointed! The enclosure was quite large and well planned. The animals looked well cared for and there were several baby Gorillas to see. We spent some time watching these intelligent animals interacting with each other. Again there is an active conservation programme in place to help these animals survive.
I was not impressed with the bear enclosure as it seemed quite small. I love bears and found it upsetting to see them in cramped surroundings. This s also applied to the white tiger on display. It was pacing and didn't seem to have much space to move around. I accept they are endangered ,but still believe this is not a good environment for such a large animal.
The zoo also has Asian elephants and they did have a lot of space. We also liked watching the otters frolic as you can view them under water as they swim.
If I had to pick out my favourite area of the zoo it would have to be the reptile house. This contained many Australian snakes (and there are a lot!) I have a fascination with snakes, although am not keep to encounter them in the wild! Australia has most of the worlds most deadly snakes including the Brown snake and Taipan. We had been told by a local that the both these species will actually chase after you if disturbed and the keeper confirmed this! There were also lots of lizards and insects. Each reptile had an information plaque on its tank and we spent over an hour walking though.
As I have mentioned there are several really good keeper talks throughout the day. Unfortunately some times clash so you will need to decide the ones you are most interested in. We opted to go to the spider talk and were not disappointed! It was really interesting to learn about Australian spiders, dispelling some of the myths! We also got the chance to get close and personal to some enormous hairy spiders! The talk is held outside sitting on stone seats overlooking Sydney harbour.
The zoo is famous for its amazing bird and seal shows, held a few times each day. The shows are included in your entry price and not to be missed! We first went to the seal show. This takes place in an open air pool with tiered seating. It is a very popular show so try to arrive in plenty of time to get a decent seat. Several of the seals have been rescued and nursed back to health by the zoo; one still had the scars from a shark attack. The seals perform amazing *tricks*, such as diving into the pool and balancing a ball on command. They are rewarded with fish after they have performed. Although the show is very clever, I really do not believe animals should be used in this way.
The free flight bird show was even more amazing! It featured several birds of prey demonstrating how agile they are. There were black kites, an eagle and peregrine falcon. The show also featured a coin stealing Galah bird. A woman in the audience was asked to holds a coin in her hand and the bird then flew over and took the coin from her! At one point the keeper told the story of how the zoo had once been overrun with rats; cue for dozens of rats to run along the hand rails! Luckily they all went into there enclosure whilst an eagle eyed hunting bird was kept away!
This is a great place to bring a picnic and the concert lawn has great views over Sydney harbour. Even in August (winter in oz) it was warm enough to sit outside and enjoy the view! If you prefer there are several cafes and food stall throughout the park selling all manor of food choices including fish and chips, rolls, cakes and full meals. As we bought our own food I can't comment on the standard of the food on offer.
There are plenty of clean, well maintained toilets throughout the park. The ones I used had bay changing facilities.
The zoo is accessible for anyone with mobility problems and there are wheelchairs for hire at the main entrance. Most of the enclosures are wheel chair friendly with ramps giving easy access. There are also pushchairs for hire.
The zoo has a large, well stocked shop. The merchandise looked of good quality and there were some very cute animal glove puppets that I was tempted to buy. However a look at the price tickets persuaded me otherwise!
Overall whatever you feel about zoos, this one is better than most! It is in a stunning location and the ferry trip across the harbour is magic. My children both enjoyed the day and learnt a lot . The zoo has animals from all around the world, but it was the Australia critters we really went to see!
Summary: Taronga zoo, Sydney
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