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Published July 5th 2017
A list of new and free things to see and do at Taronga Zoo
Okay, I'll come clean. It's been around 10 years since we last took the kids to Taronga Zoo. Sure there have been other zoo trips and wildlife encounters during that time, but after 10 years it was definitely time for another visit to Sydney's oldest and favourite zoo.
Of course, a lot has changed at the zoo in 10 years and I was pleased to see so many new attractions and improvements since the last time we visited.
So if it has been a while since your last visit too, let me tempt you back with a list of new things to see and free things to do at Taronga Zoo:
On 26th May 2017 Taronga welcomed the birth of a new baby elephant. Named Jai Dee (meaning good heart in Thai), the male Asian elephant was born to mother, Pak Boon and father, Gung.
At just six weeks old the cute as a button Jai Dee was the star of the elephant exhibit, following the other elephants around and learning to use his trunk. As baby elephants increase in size by about 10kg every week you had better be quick if you want to catch him while he is still little.
I would highly recommend the Elephant keeper talk in the afternoon as it was informative and gives visitors a chance to learn more about the elephants and watch them as they feed from their straw bales.
Asian Elephants are endangered in the wild due to habitat destruction and human encroachment. Taronga's elephants play a crucial role in a regional breeding and conservation program for Asian Elephants. Taronga Zoo also raises funds to support wild elephant conservation projects in range countries.
New - Squirrel Monkey Jungle Walk
The Squirrel Monkey Jungle Walk is a new exhibit at the zoo and allows visitors to get up close to these inquisitive and energetic animals. Opening in December 2016 the exhibit allows you to walk through the jungle-like habitat of the Bolivian Squirrel Monkey.
Native to Bolivia, Brazil and Peru, these monkeys are small, quick and agile and usually live high in the tree canopy of their jungle environment. In the walk through exhibit groups of ten people are given access to stand along the boardwalk and observe the antics of these curious monkeys. There are no bags, food or loose items permitted in the exhibit and you are not allowed to touch the monkeys, however cameras and phones are allowed. Each group is given around 10 minutes to observe and take photos of the monkeys as they dart along the ropes and the juvenile monkeys wrestle with each other.
It is a unique experience and is the only monkey walkthrough exhibit in Australia. The exhibit is open from 9.30 - 1pm and from 2-3pm daily.
Free - Seal Show
The Seal Show is not new to the zoo but it was one of the highlights of our day. Featuring Californian and Australian Sea Lions and New Zealand Fur Seals demonstrating their natural swimming and diving abilities.
The Seal Show was one of the highlights of our day
The show includes some audience participation and has a strong emphasis on conservation of the marine environment. My kids and I loved this show and watching the antics of the seals. The show runs for around 30 minutes and is free with your zoo entry. The show usually runs twice a day.
New - Zoo Friends Annual Pass
The Zoo Friends have recently updated their annual membership program to include free annual passes for children with every adult annual pass purchased. This means you can benefit from unlimited entry for a year for one adult and two children for only $110 (or only $99 if you purchase online) I think that is great value. But wait there is more.
Zoo Friend members also enjoy discounted zoo parking, discounts on food, accommodation and retail, plus a subscription to Wild Life magazine. Members also receive exclusive pre-sale access & discounts to events including Vivid, Taronga's New Year's Eve party and Twilight concerts. Plus Zoo Friend members also receive free entry to Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide Zoos. For more information or to purchase an annual membership please click here.
Free - Sky Safari
A ride on the Sky Safari is a must when you visit Taronga
It is fantastic to see that the Sky Safari is now included in the zoo admission ticket. You can take the Sky Safari one way (from the bottom to the top of the zoo or vice versa) or do a round trip. The gondolas seat six people and can accommodate wheelchairs up to a width of 610mm. It is well worth the trip for the stunning views of Sydney Harbour and for a bird's-eye view of the zoo.
The Sky Safari operates from 9.30am – 4:30pm daily, however may be closed in adverse weather or for maintenance.
Free - Taronga Zoo App
To ensure you don't miss a thing on your visit to Taronga Zoo, before your visit download the free Taronga Zoo App. It includes an interactive map, the latest information about all of the talks and shows on offer and the Wild Squad Missions for kids. For more information click here.
If you can believe what you read on the internet, the name Taronga means "water view" and there are many vantage points within the zoo to glimpse the magnificent views of Sydney Harbour. Even if it is not true, there's no way you can argue with this view.
Capture a stunning Sydney Harbour view from the zoo
Of course, there are plenty of other animals to see at the zoo plus many other activities, tours and animal encounters, both free and ticketed. Other highlights for my kids and I were watching the Little Penguins and seals swimming past in their see-through enclosures. It is difficult to know who is enjoying the view more, us or them.
Another favourite of ours was the giraffe feeding.
For a full list of what's on each day, you can visit the website here or download the free App.
To avoid disappointment it is also worthwhile to check out the closures and works page before you visit. This tells you about any scheduled routine maintenance and any animals not currently on display.
So if like me it has been a while since your last visit, it may well be time to take another look at Taronga. For more information about visiting Taronga Zoo please visit the website here.