Wild About Taronga Zoo Sydney's Centenary

10 August 2016

At approximately 100 years of age, Esmeralda the Aldabra giant tortoise is one of the oldest residents at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo. However the venerable reptile, who arrived at Taronga Zoo in 1947, is not the only icon celebrating a centenary in 2016, the zoo itself is also 100 years old this year.

 Girl meets giraffes at Taronga Zoo Sydney. (Image: Cassandra Laffey)

The official birthday bash is on Friday, October 7, and Taronga Zoo is offering 5,000 people the chance to attend the exclusive party and secure tickets in a Birthday Ballot. But the birthday theme doesn’t stop there. Visit Taronga Zoo on your birthday this year, and your entry ticket is just $1 plus a special Taronga birthday badge to wear.

However you don’t need a birthday invite or a special day to get along to Australia’s most famous zoo. Taronga Zoo is a great day out any day. I recently visited the Mosman site with four generations of my family in tow – my Baby Boomer mother, five-year-old daughter, 15-year-old cousin and me, the Gen-Xer – and our wildlife experience was a hit with all demographics.

 Who's got the best view in the zoo? (Image: Taronga Zoo)

From the ferry from Circular Quay across Sydney Harbour to Taronga Zoo, the day starts as an exciting adventure for little ones. Have a look online to plot your must-sees, or grab a map when you head through the main gates. My daughter’s number-one animal to see were the giraffes, who arguably have the best view in the zoo with a stunning harbourside vantage point. Watching these graceful animals amble along with the city behind them was one of our highlights, and catching the tail end of a keeper talk cleared up some hairy questions about some interesting behaviour that the five-year-old witnessed!


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 What's up? (Image: Taronga Zoo)

Tired feet sometimes slow down little ones, this was certainly not the case at Taronga Zoo with so much to look at. We ticked off the gorillas and chimpanzees and elephants; sun bears and Komodo dragon; the nimble Barbary sheep and Himalayan tahrs; and played spot the koala near the Reptile World section before breaking for lunch from The Fish Shop.

After a picnic lunch in the Concert Lawns area, we resumed our animal trail. The Australian Walkabout saw us lazily regarded by kangaroos, tree kangaroos, emus and wallabies in their open enclosure, while meerkats, Fennec foxes and the zebras are more crowd pleasers. The platypus was another favourite, as we watched the curious creature in its nocturnal habitat.

 How much can a koala bear? (Image: Taronga Zoo)

While we didn’t tackle the Wild Ropes attraction on this visit, this interesting new aboveground obstacle course in the Australian Walkabout section also captured our attention as we watched adults, teens and kids tackle the adventure course above our heads, offering a bird’s-eye view of the zoo and heaps of interactive fun.

Of course, for my daughter no visit to any attraction is complete without a souvenir, so a trip to the Top Plaza Shop was a mandatory stop. There’s a huge selection of stuffed animals that replicate the real ones seen in the zoo, even the more exotic and unusual ones. After much deliberation, my daughter picked a snowy white baby seal toy, and to her delight, she found a friend on the ferry back with her plush cub’s sibling – cue much squealing and excitement as the two little girls compared their big day out at the zoo. And that’s the joy you just can’t buy.

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Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.