Taronga Zoo

Taronga Zoo

Taronga Zoo
Taronga Zoo logo
Taronga Zoo entrance
Date opened 7 October 1916[1]
Location Bradleys Head Road, Mosman, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Land area 21 hectares (52 acres)[1]
Number of animals 4,000+
Number of species 340
Memberships ZAA[2]
Website .au.gov.nsw.zoowww
Taronga Zoo lower-level entrance

Taronga Zoo is the city zoo of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia and is located on the shores of Sydney Harbour in the suburb of Mosman. It was officially opened on 7 October 1916. Taronga Zoo is managed by the Zoological Parks Board of New South Wales, under the trading name Taronga Conservation Society, along with its sister Zoo Dubbo's Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Divided into eight zoogeographic regions, the 21-hectare (52-acre) Taronga Zoo is home to over 4,000 animals of 340 species. It has a zoo shop, a cafe, and information centre.


  • History 1
    • Rustic Bridge 1.1
    • Late 1900s 1.2
    • 2000 master plan 1.3
    • Zoo Friends 1.4
  • Notable events 2
    • Platypus birth 2.1
    • Australia's first elephant birth 2.2
    • Second elephant birth 2.3
  • Animals and exhibits 3
    • Wild Australia 3.1
    • Great Southern Oceans 3.2
    • Moore Park Aviary 3.3
    • Serpentaria 3.4
    • South American Aviaries 3.5
    • African Waterhole 3.6
    • Chimpanzee Park 3.7
    • Gorilla Forest 3.8
    • Lemur Forest Adventure 3.9
    • Orang-utan Walk 3.10
    • Wild Asia 3.11
    • Himalayan Mountains 3.12
    • Big Cats 3.13
    • "Dog Row" 3.14
    • Bear Canyon 3.15
    • Giant Tortoises 3.16
    • Alligators 3.17
  • Chimpanzee Community 4
    • Males 4.1
    • Females 4.2
  • Transport 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Giraffes in front of Sydney's skyline.
Trained seals put up a great show for visitors at Taronga. The show also focus on awareness of protecting our oceans and the effects over fishing and littering can have on marine life.
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.[3] 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.[4]

Rustic Bridge

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 1900s

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

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 Bangkok International Airport for their flight on 5 June 2006.[5] 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 is also under construction, hoping to split it into two sections, making it easier for introducing new individuals.[6]

Zoo Friends

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

Seal Cove Pool with a view to Great Southern Oceans

Platypus birth

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

Australia's first elephant birth

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.[7]

Second elephant birth

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 behaviour. 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.[8][9] On 10 March 2010 at 3:27 am the male calf was born.[10] It was subsequently named Pathi Harn, a Thai expression meaning "miracle".[11] 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.[12]

Animals and exhibits

Taronga Zoo has about 340 species and over 2,600 individual animals.[13][14] They are housed in a large variety of exhibits, including:

Chimpanzee Community

Taronga Zoo is currently home to a multi-male, multi-female troop of 19 chimpanzee of various ages, The group is currently led by alpha male, Lubutu.


Lubutu is the alpha male and was born in June 1993 to Lisa. Lubutu took on the role of alpha male, at the age of eight years, after the previous alpha male died suddenly. Lubutu is tolerant of the infants in the group and is his fair leadership and support from the females in the troop has attributed to his success and continuity as a leader. Lubutu is the father of Samaki, Lani, Furahi, Shikamoo, Sembe and Sule. He was vasectomised in 2009 as his genetics are well represented in the region.

Shabani is the beta male and was born in September 1994 to Shiba. Shabani is less tolerant of the infants in the group and will occasionally redirect aggression towards the females of the group. Shabani has attempted many times to oust Lubutu from his position as alpha male, but his lack of popularity means the females support Lubutu during any conflicts.

Samaki was born in November 2001 to Shiba. Shabani and Samaki are known as the "S boys" and if they were to team up, would stand an excellent chance of taking over the alpha role. It seems this is unlikely to happen as Samaki is very supportive of his father, Lubutu, playing the role of his right-hand man. The pair often spend time bonding together and Samaki receives benefits for his support, including access to food and females. Samaki is the father of Sudi.

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 offers support to his mother, particularly since the birth of his brother, Fumo, last year. Furahi enjoys displaying, like the adult males in the troop and will occasionally harass the females. Furahi is the father of Liwali.

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 and enjoys babysitting the infant. He is frequently seen carrying Fumo around, or returning him to his mother if he wanders away. He has likely learnt this behaivour 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.

Fumo was born in October 2013 to Kuma. He is the oldest of three infants in the community. Kuma has encouraged Fumo's development from an early age and he is advanced in his climibing skills for his age. Fumo has recently begun using the artificial termite mound.

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. Shiba has recently been encouraging Fumo to interact with Sudi.

Liwali was born in September 2014 to Lisa. Liwali is the youngest chimpanzee in the group and will doubt develop a close bond with the other two infants, Fumo and Sudi, as they grow up together.


Spitter was born in June 1960 and is the senior female of the troop. Spitter has had many offspring over the years including Sam in 1970, Scott in 1973, an unnamed female which died at birth in 1977, Simon in 1978, Sasha in 1980, an unnamed male which died at birth in 1984, Sally in 1985 and Gombe in 1988. Sam, Scott and Simon were sent to other zoos to contribute to their breeding programmes, while Sasha and Gombe remained at Taronga. After the death of the alpha male, Snowy, in 1999 and the export of the beta male, Monty, a month later, Gombe assumed the role of alpha male. As mother of the alpha male, this greatly increased Spitter's ranking in the hierarchy. Gombe died in 2001, aged 13, after a bacterial infection spread to his heart. Since then, Spitter has suffered as her grandson, Sandali, was seen as competition for the alpha role by Lubutu and until Sandali's export in 2009, Spitter was often caught up in conflicts between Sandali and Lubutu. Spitter is currently third in line in the female hierarchy and has a close bond to her daughter, Sasha, and grandsons Shikamoo and Sule.

Koko was born in May 1974, and came to Taronga Zoo in 1990. She has had several offspring over the years, including an unnamed son that died at birth in 1992, an unnamed daughter that died at birth in 1993, a daughter, Kamili, born in 1995, an unnamed daughter that died at birth in 1998, an unnamed son that died at birth in 1999, an unnamed son that died at birth in 2001, an unnamed son that died at birth in 2003 and an unnamed daughter that died at birth in 2004. After this last birth, Koko was placed on a contraceptive implant, as the zoo focussed on breeding her only surviving offspring, Kamili. This was also been unsuccessful and Kamili was placed on a contraceptive until the chimpanzee moved into their renovated enclosure in 2011. In May 2014, Koko was announced as expecting a baby, and was removed from the troop to enhance her chances of success. It is thought Koko's inability to care for her offspring is due to her handraising, which denied her the opportunity to witness female chimpanzee raising young. This, combined with Koko's low ranking in the troop hierarchy did not bode well for the pregnancy and the male infant died due to mismothering.

Lisa was born in August 1979 to Lulu and is the mother of the dominant male, Lubutu, born in 1993, an unnamed male who died at birth in 1999, an unnamed female who died at birth in 2000, a daughter Lani, born in 2002, and a son, Liwali, born in 2014. As Lubutu's mother, Lisa is the highest ranking female chimpanzee and is well respected by the troop. Lisa is confident in her abilities and will defend herself and her offspring when needed. Lisa will not have more offspring, but her family line will continue through her daughter Lani.

Sasha was born in June 1980 to Spitter. She has had five offspring, a daughter, Kike, born in 1991, and sons, Sandali, born in 1996, an unnamed son who died at birth in 2001, Shikamoo in 2003 and Sule in 2008. Sasha is oten nervous and fearful of the males in the group, especially Lubutu. If harassed by any of the males, she will often scream hysterically until calmed down by her mother, Spitter, or her sons, Shikamoo and Sule, who are quick to support her in any conflict. It is likely Lubutu's actions towards Sasha are as result of the conflict between the two family lines, as Sasha's brother was the previous alpha male, and her eldest son Sandali, a contender. Despite her dislike for Lubutu, Sasha will support him if he is challenged by Shabani, realsing the more aggressive beta male would be an undesirable to have as an alpha male. Sasha is fourth in line in the female hierarchy and has developed a closer relationship with Shiba since the birth of their offspring, Sule and Sembe, in 2008. Sasha is not a highly protective mother, this has allowed Shikamoo and Sule the freedom to explore and interact with the troop more and they have overtaken their peers in reaching several milestones.

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 the second highest ranked 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 is still very restricted.

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 younger males, especially Samaki and Furahi.

Kuma was born in December 1991 to Ficha and has produced two offspring, a son, Furahi, in 2003, and a son, Fumo, in 2013. Kuma's mother was exported to another zoo in 1999, which was a great disadvantage to Kuma as she lost critical maternal support, which would have greatly assisted her in the raising of her son, Furahi. Supported only by her aged grandmother, Fimi, who died in 2007, Kuma successfully raised her eldest son, who now supports her in the upbringing of her second offspring, Fumo. Kuma's success and secure place in the troop hierarchy is much attributed to her confidence and powerful build. Kuma is a large, well built female who can easily defend herself and her offspring when required. She has good maternal instincts and is currently Taronga Zoo's best chimpanzee. It is common to see Kuma followed around by Sule, who she allows to carry Fumo, acting as a babysitter on a regular basis for Kuma.

Kamili was born in September 1995 to Koko, and has had three offspring. Her first offspring, was an unnamed daughter, born in 2005. She was attacked and killed shortly after birth by Shiba. Kamili gave birth again in 2013, to an unnamed son, which again was attacked and killed by Shiba shortly 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. It is thought Shiba's infanticide of Kamili's offspring was a result of Koko and Kamili's attack on Samaki. Interestingly, the father of Kamili's baby in 2013 was Shiba's eldest son, Shabani. Kamili is close to Shikamoo and the pair often spend time grooming each other.

Lani was born in May 2002 to Lisa. With her brother being the alpha male, and her mother Lisa, the highest ranking female, Lani has enjoyed a high social status since birth. Lani is confident and well respected in the troop. She has shown a great interest in Fumo and was one of the first Kuma allowed to hold him. Lani enjoys interacting with Sule who often engages her in chasing and climbing games on the high ropes. Lani is being considered for breeding in the immediate future.

Sembe was born in February 2008 to Shiba. Sembe has always been very close to her mother, Shiba, and has 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 will often walk, one arm draped over her mother. Sembe is a feisty young female who is struggling to adjust to life within the community now her mother is 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 the smaller Sule, but as they enter adolescence, these roles are quickly reversing.


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.[15][16] Passengers disembarking at the ferry wharf, located on Bradleys Head Road, can enter the zoo via a gondola lift or connect with local State Transit Authority bus services. Sydney Ferries offers combined "ZooLink" tickets covering ferry fares, park entry, and gondola ride.

Taronga Zoo 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.

See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ The Book of Sydney Suburbs, Compiled by Frances Pollen, Angus & Robertson Publishers, 1990, Published in Australia ISBN 0-207-14495-8, page 181
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Taronga's New Elephant Calf Takes First Steps Outside Barn, Taronga Conservation Society Australia.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ 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.

External links

  • Official website