Taronga Zoo

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Taronga Zoo
Taronga Zoo, New South Wales Australia.jpg
Taronga Zoo Sydney entrance
Date opened7 October 1916; 105 years ago (1916-10-07)[1]
LocationBradleys Head Road, Mosman, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Coordinates33°50′36″S 151°14′28″E / 33.84333°S 151.24111°E / -33.84333; 151.24111Coordinates: 33°50′36″S 151°14′28″E / 33.84333°S 151.24111°E / -33.84333; 151.24111
Land area28 hectares (69 acres)[1]
No. of animals2,000+
No. of species150+

Taronga Zoo is a zoo located in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, in the suburb of Mosman, on the shores of Sydney Harbour. The opening hours are between 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.[3]

It was officially opened on 7 October 1916. Taronga Zoo Sydney is managed by the Zoological Parks Board of New South Wales, under the trading name Taronga Conservation Society, along with its sister zoo, the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo.

Divided into various zoogeographic regions, the 28-hectare (69-acre) Taronga Zoo Sydney is home to more than 2,600 animals of approximately 250 different species. It has a zoo shop, a cafe, and an information centre.


Taronga Zoo lower-level entrance
The old entrance of Taronga Zoo
Giraffes in front of Sydney's skyline
Some of the zoos longest and oldest residents are the group of Aldabra giant tortoises
Rustic Bridge in 2009

The Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales opened the first public zoo in New South Wales in 1884 at Billy Goat Swamp in Moore Park, on a site now occupied by Sydney Boys High School and Sydney Girls High School. Inspired by a 1908 visit to the Hamburg Zoo, the secretary of the zoo, Albert Sherbourne Le Souef, envisioned a new zoo based on the bar-less concept.[4] After realising that the Moore Park site was too small, the NSW Government granted 43 acres (17 ha) of land north of Sydney Harbour. A further 9 acres (3.6 ha) were later granted in 1916.

Taronga is an Aboriginal word meaning beautiful view.[5]

Rustic Bridge[edit]

The "Rustic Bridge" was opened in 1915 and was one of Taronga Zoo's earliest landscape features. It was the main way in which visitors could cross the natural gully that it spans. Early photographs show it as a romantic pathway secluded by plantings. The rustic effect was created by embedding stones in the wall and like the aquarium, its design was reminiscent of Italian grottoes.

Late 20th century[edit]

A critical review in 1967 led to a new emphasis on scientific conservation, education and preservation. New exhibits were built starting with the Platypus and Nocturnal houses, waterfowl ponds and walkthrough Rainforest Aviary. A Veterinary Quarantine Centre was built as was an Education Centre (funded by the Department of Education). Previous attractions such as elephant rides, miniature trains, monkey circus and merry-go-round gave way to educational facilities such as Friendship Farm and Seal Theatre.

In the mid-1980s, a gondola lift was installed that allows visitors to view the zoo and Sydney Harbour. It runs from the bottom of the park close to the ferry wharf, and transports passengers to the top end of the zoo.

2000 master plan[edit]

In 2000, TCSA commenced a 12-year $250 million master plan, the majority of which is being spent at Taronga Zoo. The first major master plan item was the Backyard to Bush precinct. Under the plan, the zoo received five Asian elephants from the Thailand Zoological Park Organisation for breeding purposes, education, long-term research and involvement of conservation programs. The plan has met opposition from environmental activists in Thailand, who blockaded the trucks hauling the elephants to Bangkok International Airport for their flight on 5 June 2006.[6] The elephants along with other Asian rain forest specimens are housed in the "Wild Asia" precinct which opened in 2006 and aims to immerse visitors in an Asian rain forest environment.

A marine section, Great Southern Oceans, opened in April 2008. Recently, the redevelopment and restoration of the historic entrance opened, further adding to the masterplan. The chimpanzee exhibit also underwent expansion work and re-opened as 'Chimpanzee Sanctuary' allowing its residents more space and also to assist making it easier for the introduction of new individuals by splitting the areas of the exhibit when necessary.[7]

Zoo Friends[edit]

Zoo Friends offers support in form of volunteers and fund raising for both Taronga and Western Plains Zoo. Members are offered behind-the-scenes experiences at the zoo and unlimited zoo entry. Members are also eligible to volunteer to help at the zoo.

Notable events[edit]

Platypus birth[edit]

In February 2003, it became the second zoo in Australia to breed the platypus.

Australia's first elephant birth[edit]

Luk Chai at five months old

At 3.04 am on 4 July 2009, Thong Dee, an Asian elephant, gave birth to a male calf named Luk Chai. He is the first calf ever born in Australia. Thong Dee, and his father Gung, were two of the eight elephants imported into Australia to participate in the Australasian Conservation Breeding Program.

A further two calves were expected to be born at Taronga in the following two years. The baby elephant is a major tourist attraction, with thousands of visitors attending the zoo just to see him.[8]

Second elephant birth[edit]

A baby Asian elephant was thought to have died during labour on 8 March 2010. The calf's 18-year-old mother Porntip was in and out of labour over the week beforehand, after a pregnancy lasting almost two years.

Zoo keepers and veterinarians were concerned about the progress of the labour, with Porntip showing unusual movements and behavior. An ultrasound revealed that the calf was unconscious in the birth canal, and the zoo announced on 8 March 2010 that the calf was believed to be dead.[9][10] On 10 March 2010 at 3:27 am, the live male calf was born.[11] He was subsequently named Pathi Harn, a Thai expression meaning "miracle".[12] Pathi Harn's father is Bong Su, of the Melbourne Zoo, and was artificially conceived.

In October 2012, Pathi Harn critically injured his keeper by crushing her against a pole.[13]

Royal tour[edit]

An Andean condor in large aviary at the zoo, Taronga has successfully bred and hatched these threatened birds for 40 years, some of which act as ambassadors for their species in the zoos Free Flight Bird Show

On 20 April 2014, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, along with their 8-month-old son, Prince George of Cambridge, visited Taronga Zoo Sydney to participate in an unveiling ceremony at the bilby exhibit. The bilby was eventually renamed "Bilby George" in honor of the little prince who performed his first official duty. Later, William and Kate visited the zoo again without George meeting the other animals for Easter.

Birth of bilby joeys[edit]

The Prince George Bilby exhibit announced the birth of a bilby joey duo parented from Bilby George and Mother Yajala.

Birth of Sumatran tiger cubs[edit]

On 17 January 2019, Kartika, one of the zoo's four Sumatran tigers, gave birth to three cubs.[14] Sumatran tigers are critically endangered, with fewer than 350 individuals alive in the wild. In total, 21 tiger cubs have been born at Taronga since 1980.[15]

Ongoing Conservation work news[edit]

Taronga has been involved in numerous conservation captive breeding programs for endangered and vulnerable species for more than fifty years when the zoos management changed Taronga's trajectory away from general visitor entertainment to focus on assisting species that are threatened in their wild habitats.

In November 2021 Taronga released 58 captive bred critically endangered Regent honeyeaters into the wild.

Pygmy hippopotamus Kambiri gave birth to a female calf on 22 November 2021.

Exhibits and wildlife collection[edit]

Taronga Zoo Sydney cares for approximately 2,000 animals from over 150 different species, many of which are threatened.[16][17] They are housed in a large variety of exhibits, including:

Wild Australia[edit]

Koala in the Koala Walkabout

Koala Walkabout

Platypus Pool

Backyard to Bush
Red-bellied black snake behind glass in Backyard to Bush area
Emu in walk-through exhibit in Backyard to Bush area

Blue Mountains Bush Walk
Brush-tailed rock wallaby in the zoos Blue Mountains Bushwalk

Australian Rainforest Aviary
Eastern water dragon in the Blue Mountains Bushwalk

Wildlife Retreat's Freshwater Aquariums
Rainbow lorikeet in the Australian Rainforest Aviary

Other Wild Australia
An endangered Tasmanian devil at food tray in the shape of a roadkilled marsupial in the zoos 2010 opened Tasmanian Devil Conservation Centre
Red kangaroos resting in their exhibit
Southern cassowary in exhibit

Nocturnal House (currently closed, re-opening in 2023)

Great Southern Oceans[edit]

Fiordland penguin seen through underwater viewing in the Great Southern Oceans
Trained seals put on a show for visitors at Taronga. The show also focuses on awareness of protecting oceans and the effects overfishing and littering can have on marine life

Seals For The Wild (Seal Show and Talk)[edit]

Moore Park Aviary[edit]

Freshwater crocodile in zoos Reptile World

Reptile World[edit]

African Savannah[edit]

Meerkats in their Savannah exhibit
Plains zebras in their Savannah exhibit
Chimps' in their Chimpanzee Sanctuary home
Gorilla mum and baby in their Gorilla Forest home
Female Asian elephant playing by water her exhibit

Chimpanzee Sanctuary[edit]

Gorilla Forest[edit]

Wild Asia's Elephants[edit]

Rainforest Trail[edit]

Pygmy hippopotamus asleep in exhibit in the Rainforest Trail precinct
Binturong looking out of tree shelter in exhibit in the Rainforest Trail precinct
Fishing cat drinking or fishing in exhibit in the Rainforest Trail precinct

Tiger Trek[edit]

A critically endangered Sumatran tiger in one of their Tiger Trek exhibits
Cotton-top tamarin seen in Moreton Bay fig tree on one of the Primate Islands
Sun bear at the zoo

Primate Islands[edit]

Other Species[edit]

Red panda in current exhibit: a former Bear canyon located at bottom of the zoo
Ring-tailed lemur in exhibit at zoo
A Goodfellow's tree kangaroo and keeper at the zoo



  • Komodo dragon
  • Okapi
  • Dingo
  • Philippine crocodile
  • Grey parrot
  • New Herptile building: the Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Centre (ARCC) under construction (opening late 2023)
  • New Australian precinct Iyora Australia under construction
  • New Wildlife Hospital under construction soon

Conservation Recovery Programs[edit]

A number of species are managed off display in efforts for breed and release programs.

Chimpanzee community[edit]

Chimpanzee family in the zoos Chimpanzee Sanctuary

Taronga Zoo is currently home to a multi-male, multi-female troop of 21 chimpanzees of various ages.


Samaki was born in November 2001 to Shiba. He is the alpha male of the group since 2021 with Sule acting as his right-hand chimp'. Samaki and his brother Shabani were known for years by keepers as the "S boys" when Samaki acted as a supporter for older brother Shabani during various alpha challenges against previous alpha Lubutu. Samaki has now successfully taken the alpha role for himself with support in particular from Sule. Samaki is the father of Cebele.

Shabani was born in September 1994 to Shiba. Shabani is not very tolerant of the infants in the group and will occasionally redirect aggression towards the females of the group. Shabani had attempted many times to oust previous alpha male Lubutu from his position, but his lack of popularity meant the females supported Lubutu during any conflicts, now his younger brother Samaki has taken the alpha male role.

Furahi was born in February 2003 to Kuma. He is one of two adolescent males in the troop and has a close relationship with his mother, Kuma. Furahi had offered support to his mother, particularly when his baby brother Fumo was born in 2013. Furahi enjoys displaying, like the adult males in the troop and will occasionally harass the females.

Shikamoo was born in July 2003 to Sasha. Shikamoo has a close friendship with Furahi and is often seen bonding with him. Shikamoo is protective of his brother, Sule, and is popular amongst the females of the troop, particularly Kuma and Kamili. Shikamoo is the father of Fumo.

Sule was born in April 2008 to Sasha. Sule was the youngest member of the troop for five years until the birth of Fumo. Sule had often babysitting Fumo when he was smaller. He has likely learnt this behaviour from his elder brother, Shikamoo, who used to interact with Sule in a similar way. Sule has shown advanced social skills from a young age and often acts as a peacemaker during altercations. He is popular amongst the troop and enjoys showing off to the visitors. He occasionally has tantrums and flicks his hands in the air.

Fumo was born in October 2013 to Kuma. He is the oldest of the four infants in the community. Kuma has encouraged Fumo's development from an early age and he is advanced in his climbing skills. Fumo had recently begun using the artificial termite mound at a very early age. Fumo has created a good relationship with the youngest infant, Cebele.

Sudi was born in August 2014 to Shiba. Sudi has been kept under close protection from his mother, and has not been allowed the freedom to explore, Kuma has allowed Fumo.

Liwali was born in September 2014 to Lisa. Liwali was the youngest chimpanzee in the group for three years until Cebele was born in 2017. Liwali has developed a close bond with the other two infants, Fumo and Sudi, as they have grown up together.

Niambi was born in October 2020 to Naomi. He is the currently the youngest chimpanzee in the community.


Chimpanzee climbing in the Chimpanzee Sanctuary

Spitter was born at Taronga Zoo Sydney in June 1960 to Biddy and is the most senior female in the community. Spitter has had seven offspring including an unnamed son who was born and died in January 1972, an unnamed son who was born and died in July 1973, a daughter Speedy who was born in May 1975 and died in July 1975, a daughter Sheba who was born in June 1978 and died in September 1978, a daughter Sacha who was born in June 1980, a daughter Sally who was born in January 1985 and a son Gombe who was born in December 1988 and died in May 2001. Sally was exported to Wellington Zoo in April 1992. Spitter is now post reproductive.

Koko was born in January 1972 in the wild, and came to Taronga Zoo Sydney in February 1993. She had five offspring including an unnamed daughter who was born and died in August 1994, a daughter Kamili who was born in September 1995, an unnamed daughter who was born and died in June 1999, an unnamed daughter who was born and died in February 2003 and an unnamed son who was born and died in September 2014.

Lisa was born at Taronga Zoo in August 1979 to Lulu and is the highest ranking female. Lisa has had four offspring including a son Lobo who was born in June 1989 and died in November 1996, a son Lubutu who was born in June 1993, a daughter Lani who was born in May 2002 and a son Liwali who was born in September 2014. Lani has since moved zoos.

Sasha was born at Taronga Zoo in June 1980 to Spitter. Sacha has had six offspring including a son Sokwe who was born in August 1989 and died in October 1989, a daughter Kike who was born in April 1991, a son Sandali who was born in February 1996, an unnamed daughter who was born and died in September 2002, a son Shikamoo was born in July 2003 and a son Sule who was born in April 2008. Kike was exported to Perth Zoo in June 1998 and Sandali was exported to Adelaide Zoo in December 2008.

Shiba was born in May 1981 to Susie and has produced five offspring. A son, Shabani in 1994, an unnamed male who died at birth in 1999, a son, Samaki in 2001, a daughter Sembe, in 2008 and a son, Sudi in 2014. Shiba is a high ranking female in the troop and is independent and tough. Her mother, Susie, died in 1995, leaving Shiba without the maternal support Lisa and Sasha had from their mothers. Today, Shiba has support in conflicts from her two adult sons, Shabani and Samaki. She did not initially accept Lubutu's take over as alpha male in 2001 as he was only eight years old, and she likely realised his threat to her son Shabani's chances of becoming the alpha male. Shiba is fiercely protective of her offspring and access to her newborn son, Sudi, by the troop was very restricted while he was small.

Shona was born in October 1987 and is the lowest ranking adult. Shona was sterilised during the 1990s and has never produced any offspring. Shona has a good relationship with the alpha male, Lubutu, but receive little support from the other chimpanzee, including her aunt, Shiba. Shona is a small chimpanzee and is often harassed by the males. Shona has a good relationship with Kamili.

Kuma was born in December 1991 to Ficha and has given birth to three offspring, a son Furahi who was born in February 2003, an unnamed daughter who was born and died in October 2012 and a son Fumo who was born in October 2013. Kuma, then an adolescent, had a difficult time raising her first son, Furahi, due to a lack of family support. Furahi, now fully grown, and supported Kuma in raising her second son, Fumo. Kuma has made significant advances in the hierarchy. This success is due to her large size, the support of an adult son, and her ferocity. It is not uncommon to see Kuma take on the alpha or beta male and win, especially if she is defending Furahi in conflicts.

Kamili was born in September 1995 to Koko, and has had three offspring. Her first offspring, was an unnamed daughter, born in 2005, who died in 2005. Kamili gave birth again in 2013, to an unnamed son, which died after birth. Kamili gave birth to her third offspring in 2014, which died shortly after birth due to mismothering. Kamili had been separated, along with her pregnant mother, Koko, to allow the two low ranked females to raise their young in safety during the critical first weeks, but this was unsuccessful. Koko, and Kamili are often involved with conflicts within the group and receive little support from the others. In 2004, Koko and Kamili attacked Shiba's juvenile son, Samaki, who probably would have been killed, had Shiba not intervened. Kamili is close to Shona and the pair often spend time grooming each other.

Sembe was born in February 2008 to Shiba. Sembe has always been very close to her mother, Shiba, and had struggled to adjust to the birth of her new sibling, Sudi. Sembe was still riding on her mother's back at the age of six but as Shiba's pregnancy advanced, she grew less tolerant of this. Sembe often walked, one arm draped over her mother. Sembe is a feisty young female who had struggled to adjust to life within the community when her mother was fully absorbed with Sudi. Sembe lacks the social skills displayed by Sule and will have to work hard if she is to make any connections outside of her family. She remains close to her adult brothers, Shabani and Samaki and often interacts with Sule, who is two months younger. For many years, Sembe was dominant to Sule, but as they entered adolescence, the roles quickly began to reverse.

Naomi was born at Givskud zoo in Denmark. She has adjusted well to her move, however she is often involved in fights with members within her group.

Ceres was born at Givskud zoo in Denmark. She has had one offspring. A daughter on 14 November 2017 named Cebele. Ceres is very protective of Cebele and always makes sure that she knows of her whereabouts. Cebele can't get very far. Ceres is quite selective when it comes to who she lets play with Cebele.

Cebele was born at Taronga Zoo Sydney on 14 November 2017. She is the youngest member of the group. Cebele is still clinging to her mothers stomach and is often seen cuddling with Fumo and her mother.

Safiri was born to Shiba in May 2019.


Lubutu (5 June 1993 - 4 December 2019) was born to Lisa and was the long term alpha male of the chimpanzee troop at Taronga Zoo up until his sudden death from lung failure. Lubutu took on the role of alpha male at the age of nine years after the previous alpha male, Snowy (his father) died suddenly. Lubutu was tolerant of the infants in the group and was often seen playing with them. Through his fair leadership and support from the females in the troop, Lubutu attributed to his success and lengthy tenure as a leader. At one point during Lubutu's leadership, Samaki and Shabani stood an excellent chance of taking over the alpha role. Lubutu was the father of Samaki, Furahi, Shikamoo, Sembe and Sule. He was vasectomised in 2009 as his genetics are now well represented in the region. (Due to his significant role in the troop, he is still acknowledged here despite having passed away).


The Taronga Zoo ferry services are, for many tourists, the preferred mode of travel to the zoo, providing a 12-minute ride from the city to the zoo.[19][20] Passengers disembarking at the ferry wharf, located on Bradleys Head Road, can enter the zoo via a gondola lift or connect with local Keolis Downer Northern Beaches bus services. Sydney Ferries offers combined "ZooLink" tickets covering ferry fares, park entry, and gondola ride.

Taronga Zoo Sydney also works heavily with various other Sydney Harbour transport operators, such as Captain Cook Cruises and Yellow Water Taxis. Both of these operators offer combined tickets/packages which include tickets covering transport fares, park entry, and gondola ride.


Taronga Zoo engages in a number of conservation efforts aimed at minimising human impact and ensuring ecological sustainability, working both in Australia and internationally. In 2016, the legacy commitment was launched, focused on the conservation of ten critical species.[21] These species included five native to Australia, namely the Regent Honeyeater, Southern Corroboree Frog, Marine Turtle, Platypus, and Greater Bilby, as well as five Sumatran species; the Sumatran Rhinoceros, Sumatran Tiger, Asian Elephant, Sun Bear, and Sunda Pangolin.

The zoo also focuses on minimising waste, diverting 84% of waste away from landfill and towards 20 different recycling streams.[22] One main focus is on single use plastics, encouraging reusable bags, water bottles, and coffee cups on site, and distributing biodegradable bags and food packaging. As part of the Seal talk and demonstration, the zoo encourages sustainable seafood choice through the MSC label.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Taronga Zoo Sydney". zoo.nsw.gov.au. Taronga Conservation Society. Retrieved 27 October 2010.
  2. ^ "Zoo and Aquarium Association Institutional Members' Directory". zooaquarium.org.au. Zoo and Aquarium Association. Archived from the original on 31 October 2010. Retrieved 27 October 2010.
  3. ^ "Taronga Zoo Sydney". Taronga Zoo Sydney | Taronga Conservation Society Australia. Retrieved 16 November 2021.
  4. ^ Butcher, Dunbavin. "Le Souef, Albert Sherbourne (1877–1951)". adb.anu.edu.au/biography. Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  5. ^ The Book of Sydney Suburbs, Compiled by Frances Pollen, Angus & Robertson Publishers, 1990, Published in Australia ISBN 0-207-14495-8, page 181
  6. ^ "JUMBO BATTLE". www.nationmultimedia.com/. The Nation. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  7. ^ Daily Telegraph staff (25 July 2008). "Taronga Zoo's new seal and sea lion show has a messages". The Daily Telegraph.
  8. ^ Taronga's New Elephant Calf Takes First Steps Outside Barn, Taronga Conservation Society Australia.
  9. ^ "Baby elephant dies during birth at Taronga Zoo". mosman-dailywhereilive.com.au. Mosman Daily. 8 March 2010. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  10. ^ "A mother's heavy burden as baby elephant dies". brisbanetimes.com.au. Brisbane Times. 9 March 2010. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  11. ^ "Sydney's baby elephant 'miracle': he's alive". theage.com.au. Fairfax Media. 10 March 2010. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  12. ^ "Miracle baby elephant gets miracle name". The Sydney Morning Herald. 25 March 2010. 25 March 2010. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  13. ^ Gardiner, Stephanie (19 October 2012). "Woman critically hurt by Taronga elephant". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  14. ^ "Endangered Sumatran Tiger Gives Birth to Trio of Cubs at Taronga Zoo". uk.news.yahoo.com. 6 February 2019. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  15. ^ "Taronga Announces the Birth of Three Rare Tiger Cubs". Taronga Announces the Birth of Three Rare Tiger Cubs | Taronga Conservation Society Australia. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  16. ^ "Animal Search". Taronga Conservation Society Australia. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  17. ^ "List of Animals at Taronga Zoo, Sydney". OzAnimals Travel. 2009. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  18. ^ "Import of Okapi for zoo display". Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.
  19. ^ "Taronga Zoo - Mosman". Sydney.com. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  20. ^ Frede, David, A tale of two zoos : A study in watching people watching animals, University of Sydney, Department of Museum Studies, Sydney, August 2007, pp. 144–145.
  21. ^ "Our Legacy Commitment". Our Legacy Commitment | Taronga Conservation Society Australia.
  22. ^ "Waste Management". Waste Management | Taronga Conservation Society Australia.
  23. ^ "Fish For Good". Fish For Good | Taronga Conservation Society Australia.

External links[edit]