Taronga Zoo is one Australia’s most famous zoos, and one of the major tourist attractions in Sydney. Just 12 minutes from the city by ferry, the zoo offers visitors the best day out in Sydney with free keeper talks and shows throughout the day.
The land for Taronga Zoo was allocated by the New South Wales government in 1912 after the original Sydney Zoo outgrew its site. Taronga Zoo was opened in 1916 on the current site, and many exhibits and facilities have been added over time.
There is a wide array of activities and things to see at Taronga, and this article only highlights a few of them. Some of the animal attractions at Taronga include African Lion, Asian Elephant, Australian birds, Bats, Chimpanzee, Crocodile, Fennec Fox, Giraffe, Gorilla, Kangaroo, Leopard Seal, Meerkat, Orangutan, Otter, Pygmy Hippopotamus, Platypus, Red Panda, Reptiles and Frogs, Spider Monkey, Gibbon, Snow Leopard, Tasmanian Devil, Tiger, Tree Kangaroo, Wombat, Zebra.
One of the top shows to see is the Free Flight Bird Show. This show gives visitors a close up look at some fascinating Australian including the rare Rufous Owl, a Wedge-tailed Eagle, a Barking Owl, a White Bellied Sea Eagle, a Black Kite, and the amazing Black Breasted Buzzard that cracks open emu eggs with a stone.
The popular Seal Show highlights the natural abilities of seals including catching fish, climbing and diving. Visitors view the show from a 950 seat theatre. Seals on display include Californian Sea-lions, Australian Sea-lions and New Zealand Fur-Seals.
Even when it is raining, there is plenty to see at Taronga Zoo. Under cover attractions include Australia’s Nightlife, the Platypus House, Reptile World and Backyard to Bush. If you brave the rain, you might see the elephants swimming in the rain. You can buy umbrellas, ponchos, hats and sunscreen at the zooshops on site.
During the day there are numerous talks and shows including Seal Show, Gorilla talk, Tasmanian Devil talk, Reptile Keeper Presentation, Free Flight Bird Show, Chimpanzee talk, Elephant talk, Giraffe talk, Big Cats talk, Penguin talk, Spider talk and Koala talk.
There also opportunities to get closer to the animals with an Animal Encounter. These encounters include reptiles, koalas, giraffes and seals. The encounter will give you information about each animal, and also includes a photograph of your experience taken by a professional photographer.
You can discover Australia’s unique wildlife at Taronga with a self-guided Walk Map that describes tours for duration of 40 minutes, 60 minutes and 90 minutes. However, an even better way to learn more about Australian wildlife at Taronga is to take the Wild Australia Experience. This option takes a group of up to 8 people on a two hour behind the scenes experience led by a zookeeper. Visitors are given an introduction to Australia’s unusual wildlife including photo opportunities with koalas, kangaroos and echidnas. You are also taken to see the endangered Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat, and visit the nocturnal animals. The keeper gives an informative commentary on Australia animals and how they have adapted to the Australian environment. A highlight of the trip is a visit to the animal kitchen to see where the animal food is prepared. This is a real eye opener!
Taronga is well served with public transport. It is about 12 minutes by ferry from Circular Quay and the central business district. Ferries depart from Circular Quay every half hour. You can catch a train to Circular Quay or Wynyard Station, and then catch the ferry to Taronga Zoo wharf.