The Taronga Zoo

Two weekends ago, I went with a few of my fellow fellows to the Taronga Zoo.  I know, this was nearly two weeks ago and most blogs have a linear time progression, but I took heaps of pictures (check out that Aussie vernacular) and it took a while to edit all of them.  So, I apologize for any agony you’re experiences from the mental gymnastics of my blog’s timeline.

The Taronga Zoo is a quick 10 min ferry ride away from Circular Quay.  From the wharf, you can walk 5 mins to the entrance, or, amazingly, you can wait and take a bus up there (and they say Americans are lazy).  After waiting for the bus, (haha) I actually biked up the path as I had come directly from sampling in the intertidal.  It’s $30-$40 to get in depending if you are eligible for a student, military, or senior discount (I had to fight for 5 mins to get my student discount).

Immediately, this zoo won points with me by starting with marine exhibits.  Granted, it was only mammals and birds but still marine animals.  They actually have a decent sized penguin exhibit and seal and sea lion exhibit.  Both exhibits were fairly quiet as I went through, but we did catch the last 10 mins of the sea lion show (about as much as I can handle anyway).

From there, you follow a winding path through several exhibits including elephants, rainforest birds, otters, gorillas, lemurs, crocodiles, etc.  This zoo feels huge and has a lot of space not only in its exhibits, but there is also a ton of open park space.  It’s kept really nice and you really feel like you’re in a park that has a zoo.  It seems, in a lot of ways, that it was modeled largely around the design of the San Diego Zoo.  Although, I found Taronga slightly better designed than San Diego because you could follow one path and basically see all the main exhibits.  San Diego is so big that it’s almost impossible for most people to see every exhibit, but I appreciate not having to follow a map all the time to find all the exhibits you want to see.

The second show we caught was on spiders, and we got a chance to get up close with the Sydney Funnel-Web Spider, the most venomous spider in the world.  They also had a few examples of the large Huntsmen spiders (Hawaii friends, think Cane Spider).  Most of the presentation was spent debunking common myths of spiders and how they aren’t really scary.  Spiders are great!  They eat insects!  Don’t kill them!  They won’t hurt you.  Oh I almost forgot, we even had a close encounter with an Emu during the show.  They have one that is apparently very friendly.  The zookeeper had to chase him away to finish his spider show.

Right after the spider show was one of the highlights of the zoo for me, a saltwater croc. The croc was out of the water in its little display and was absolutely larger than life.  It was great to appreciate how enormous this thing is, had to be at least 10 feet long.  It also stood completely still, convincing some would be prey (children and some of the dumber parents) that it wasn’t real.  Awesome.

The zoo also has a great section on Australian fauna with an array of kangaroos, koalas, Quokkas, tasmanian devils, lizards, and platypuses.  However, the tasmanian devils were sleeping and the platypus was cryptically hiding.  Between two trips to the Sydney aquarium, a trip to the Wildlife World, and now here, I have not actually seen one platypus. So, don’t really expect to see one, and if you do, you are very lucky.

The last part of the zoo had lions, tigers, snow leopards, ostrich, bears, and a pigmy hippo! The pigmy hippo was cool to see and after having most of the animals shy and turn away from you, the male tiger was a nice change.  He came right up to the glass, checked us out, and then he actually posed.  Got one of my best pics of the day.

The zoo closes at sunset basically, so you also get a great view of the harbour as you leave and a twilight ferry ride back to the city.  Overall, I highly recommend the Taronga Zoo to anyone who visits Sydney and would put it on my must see list.  See all my pics on FB and check out the gallery of highlights below!

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Bonus: A video of a crazy Australian animal and some lemurs.

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