Taronga Zoo

Taronga Zoo is one of the city's great treasures - a world class zoo and a Sydney icon.

The "Zoo with the View" is right up there among the top five things to experience when you visit Sydney. 

Surely Taronga Park Zoo has the best site in the world! It covers 21ha (52 acres) of prime Sydney Harbour real estate with wonderful views of the harbour, city skyline and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Pictured here is the main entrance.

Taronga Zoo's giraffes enjoy their million dollar view over Sydney Harbour.

There are 4000 animals from more than 350 species - many of them threatened. Among them are the giraffes - who of course get the best panoramas over magnificent Sydney Harbour.

Your admission price to the zoo includes at least 20 free daily shows and keeper talks. The Seal Show and Free-Flying Bird Show are two not to be missed.

Take your time and enjoy

This Sydney Zoo deserves much more than a fleeting visit of two or three hours. Give it at least five. A whole day if possible. It's also much more enjoyable in good weather.

Don't come on a public holiday if you can avoid it! Crowds are smaller on week days.

You can drive to the zoo, but it's at Mosman on the North Shore. You could waste time in traffic if coming from the CBD, so get a harbour ferry instead. Most visitors do.

The ferries take just 12 minutes from Circular Quay - one leaving every 30 minutes.

Ride the Gondola

Buy your zoo tickets online for good deals and to avoid the queues. (See link at bottom of this page). You can get them packaged to include zoo entry plus return ferry fare and cable car (Sky Safari gondola).

The Sky Safari (pictured below) transports you up from the ferry wharf to the zoo's main entrance where there are facilities, shops and snacks.

On the way up you look down on Taronga Zoo exhibits - like the elephants - and see wonderful views of Sydney Harbour, the bridge, Opera House and city skyline.

The zoo is terraced on quite a steep slope and there is plenty of walking. So do yourself a favour - start your trek from the top and walk down. It's much easier.

At Taronga Zoo you can get up close and personal with many Australian animals, including cuddly koalas, cute kangaroos, waddling wombats - and snakes.

There's always something special happening

Events include daily presentations, guided tours, animal encounters - and even sleepovers.

Why not meet the reptile keeper? You could also have your photo taken with a koala or an owl.

Say hello to the elephants. Tukta would love to meet you! She's the one below splashing about on a hot Sydney day.

Tukta was born at the zoo on November 2, 2012. She's very cute and lives up to her name - which means "doll" in Thai.

Tukta was the first female Asian elephant born at Taronga.

Photo by Taronga keeper, Bobby-Jo Clow.

Don't miss the free-flying bird stars

The Zoo's QBE Bird Show is an absolute must ... you'll love it! These trained birds bring big crowds to the amphi-theatre at noon and again at 3pm - every day.

Get there early for a seat. On sunny days make it a seat in the shade of the trees and just a few rows from the back.

From that vantage point you'll have feathered stars flying free right over your head! These can include impressive Leslie the Andean Condor who has a 3m wing span.

Several noisy Aussie red-tailed black cockatoos are real entertainers too and galahs show how cheeky - and clever - they are.

You might soon get to see George (pictured above and right) performing at the Taronga Zoo bird show. This beautiful wedge-tailed eagle has recently been taught to fly by zoo staff.

The raptor was found near death as a fledgling and was nursed to good health.

You might also see Dragon, the sooty owl pictured below with wings out coming in to land. After five months of training young Dragon debuted recently at the 3pm show.

The QBE Bird Show is free ... and a big hit with families.

  • Like to learn more about the free-flying show at Taronga Zoo? The ABC's Radio National has done a great feature on it. Here's the link: http://ab.co/1eeGVyB

Pictured (at right) is the very popular Kibabu (36) who has now retired as Taronga Zoo's great silverback. He's been gorilla family boss here for 17 years and gives way to impressive newcomer Kibali (below). French-born and still an adolescent here at 12 years, Kibali brings new genes to Taronga's gorilla family. He's an important part of the zoo's conservation breeding program for Western Lowland gorillas. (Kibabu has been retired to Mogo Zoo on the NSW South Coast).

It's a boy! - Here's the first baby of a second generation of Gorillas at Taronga Park Zoo. Mjukuu was born in October 2014, sired by the new silverback boss, Kibali. Being the perfect first time mother is Mbeli. (The name Mjukuu is Swahili for grandchild).

Guided tours are great value at Taronga Park Zoo. You can team up for very little extra cost and have an expert do a "show and tell" with the animals you really want to experience.

Unfenced delights . . .

With many tourists our unique Australian animals are the true stars. Overseas tourists delight in unfenced areas where they are right among female kangaroos and wallabies which hop around freely.

Cuddly koalas are some of the true stars of Taronga Zoo - even if they sometimes turn their back! Then again, you can become an unexpected star just by peeking out at the world as mum gets some shut-eye.

Visitors marvel at Tasmanian devils, emus, wombats and koalas.

A tiny Aussie animal that always amazes is the Feathertail Glider - seen here (below) on his way down a branch.

The Feathertail is the world's smallest gliding possum. It can fit easily into the palm of your hand and will only weigh 12 grams as an adult.

Feathertail Glider joeys are featured in the zoo's Australian Nightlife exhibition. There are 12 joeys and when we visited they were 80 days old (on Oct 9 2013), with each one weighing just 6 grams.

The gliders are rarely seen in the wild because they are so small.

To show just how small and beautiful Gliders are, here's tiny Fergus - a Yellow-bellied Glider joey in the hands of his keeper at the Sydney Zoo. He's named Fergus after Eucalyptus Fergusonii a species of ironbark tree that forms part of Gliders' native habitat. Taronga Park Zoo has the world's only successful breeding program for these marsupials. (Thirteen born there sofar!). Gliders are losing their bushland habitat because of development along Australia's eastern seaboard.

You'll need to look in the nocturnal house at Taronga Zoo to see many of Australian's unique animals. This is where you'll find the endangered Bilby. These marsupial bandicoots have a long hairy nose and big ears.

The Bilby is a great little Aussie digger! Females have a neat feature - a backwards opening pouch. This prevents the pouch filling up with dirt while they dig.

Amazingly they can produce young in just 14 days. When conditions are right the females can have four litters of up to three Bilbies in a season.

Of course there are many hundreds of interesting exotic animals. Pictured among the leafy branches is Pilar, the zoo's very pretty female Bolivian Squirrel Monkey.

And here enjoying his specially heated rocks at Taronga Zoo is 31-year-old Tuka, the Komodo dragon. A crowd favourite, Tuka measures 2.7m and weighs 78kg.

He's from the Indonesian island of Flores and is part of the Zoo's animal conservation program - the Komodo being an endangered species.

Heat is in demand at the zoo when winter comes to Sydney - even though our winter months are mild. So when Taronga's Fennec Foxes (pictured) are provided with a heat lamp the whole family cuddles up to stay warm. 

Meercats also feel the chill in Sydney. This fellow seems pretty happy to be doing his guard duty under the warmth of a heat lamp.

How's this for a very sweet photo of Fumo, who we mentioned at the top of this page. At the time (October 16, 2013) the baby chimpanzee had just been born and was being carefully inspected by Kuma, his mum. The daytime birth took just four minutes and was observed by primate keeper Katie Hooker. Chimp births normally happen at night. Fumo looks very much at ease here almost six months on as he enjoys the constant attention of members of his family.

Getting to know you ... little Fumo accepts the friendly arm of his Dad, Kuma.

Here's Fumo now aged one year - hitching a ride on his Mum's back.

And here's senior female chimp Lisa relaxing with her new baby boy in late September 2014. Taronga Zoo keepers are delighted to now have three boy babies born into their Chimpanzee Sanctuary in the past year.

Bring in your own food

You're allowed to! And just as well because food can be pricey here. So pre-plan your zoo adventure and pack lunches and snacks. You'll save big time with youngsters!

There are picnic areas throughout the zoo. Spots where you can sit down and take a rest. I've always found Taronga Park entrancing and highly entertaining - but also full-on and pretty tiring. I like to grab five minutes relaxation in the shade when possible, so those picnic areas are invaluable.

The Seal Theatre is special

It often attracts 2000 visitors a day. Shows are held at 11am and 2pm daily. (On weekends and school holidays they add a third show - at 1pm).

The new 950-seat theatre fills up quickly for the seal shows, so don't be late if you want a seat.

If you're fascinated by seals take in the Seal Keeper's Talk before the morning show. This starts at 10.45am.

The seals' performances are full of fun stuff. They'll keep you amused with their antics as they catch fish, climb and dive.

They feature Californian and Australian Sea-lions. The males of these species are very big boys - when fully-grown they can be 300kg.

Pictured here showing her aerial skill is Nala, proudly a Taronga Zoo third generation Australian Sea-lion.

The seal team's smallest star is Tathra, a 16-year-old New Zealand Fur Seal who specializes in graceful diving.

The Roar and Snore Sleepover

It's your own "scary" special night camped in a tent at the zoo! (But be warned - if you want to do the highly recommended Roar and Snore you may have to book many weeks in advance).

The night's not cheap, but you're well looked after by friendly staff and the food's good. The tent accommodation is tops.

And don't worry, the tents have power and wooden floors and wonderful views out over Sydney Harbour (see above).

Showers and toilets are clean and the beds have electric blankets - just as well, it can get pretty cold overnight!

There's a show and tell with some of the animals early on, then after dinner you explore the zoo (with guides at all times). The lions, tigers and sun bears are amazing at night and the staff are happy to share so much knowledge about all the animals.

Bring warm clothes and comfy shoes

There's lots of walking on your "night safari". The sleepover begins at 6pm and finishes when Taronga Zoo opens next morning.

Here's your chance to get up early to feed the animals and to experience the zoo without the usual crowds.

You get to "see behind the scenes" like no other visitors - and you're free to stay on all day catching up with animals you didn't see in the night.

A note about buying Taronga Zoo tickets on-line

These tickets will be emailed to you on purchase. Remember to print them out!

If for some reason you can't go to the Zoo when you planned to you need not worry. The tickets are valid for about six months.

For great Family Discounts get your Zoo tickets here.

When you arrive at Taronga Zoo get your tickets scanned and pick up a Zoo Map. Then head off down the trails to visit the animals that interest you the most.

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Inside this page ...

Look for Tukta who loves splashing about on a hot day.

A special moment for Taronga's chimpanzee family as mum Kuma checks out her new baby, Fumo - a male. (Photo by Tracey Dierikx).

More on Fumo below

Who's this cutie?

She's Sydney, Taronga's latest home-bred Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat joey. Sydney is eight months old here and just venturing out from mum Korra's pouch. See her at Taronga Zoo's very popular Backyard to Bush precinct.

Sydney is the second joey in three years produced by Korra and Noojee. Amazing because they have only a 12-hour chance of baby-making success.

Taronga's success brings new hope for Northern Hairy-nosed wombats which are critically endangered.

New meerkat pup ...

This is Junkins the latest addition to Taronga's Meerkats. Junkins is a female pup who has just ventured outside her den at Taronga's Western Plains Zoo. This zoo is also run by Taronga Conservation Society, but it is located near Dubbo - an hour's flight away from Sydney. (You can also get there by rail or bus, but it takes 6-7 hours). Just thought I'd add the Meerkats here because the troop at Western Plains now number 12 and they are such a great attraction. Taronga also has Meerkats at its Sydney Zoo - you'll see one pictured below ... keeping warm in winter's chill.

Tree 'Roo joey thrives

Nupela's her name ... the beautiful Goodfellows Tree Kangaroo joey from Papua New Guinea who's become quite an attraction. At 38 weeks old she's close to leaving mum Kwikila's pouch for good. Taronga Park Zoo keepers are very proud of her - their first tree 'roo joey in 20 years. Born in September 2013, Nupela took till March to venture out of the pouch. When an adult she'll weigh about 9kg and be able to jump 10m from a tree to the ground.

Like to see Nupela when she first looked out at the world? Here's a wonderful video of her by the Taronga Conservation Society.

A warning about the trip home. Check what time the zoo closes (4.30pm in winter and 5pm in summer - except New Year's Eve 4pm).

If you come by ferry know when the last ferryboat for the day heads back to Circular Quay - and be down there at the ferry wharf for it.

It takes time to get to the ferry from high up among the Zoo exhibits. If you miss the last cable car ride down to the ferry you may also have trouble getting a bus.

You wouldn't be the first visitor stranded!

Plan your day using Taronga Zoo's free maps. Start from the top of the Zoo - reached by the gondola or by bus. That way it's all downhill and you'll get the ferry home without trouble.

Just keep an eye on the time!