Taronga Zoo has officially opened the new state-of-the-art African Savannah precinct, connecting guests with a beautiful waterhole where Giraffe and Zebra will drink together, Fennec Foxes and Meerkats enjoy world-class facilities and the kings of the big cats, the Lions, return to Taronga for the first time in five years.The African Savannah precinct, which is radically different to any other Australian zoo experience, takes guests on a journey to Africa while also educating them on the conservation challenges facing these iconic species and some of the solutions that are supporting communities and wildlife in Northern Kenya.
Awaiting guests in the heart of African Savannah are Lwazi and Ato, two male Lions whose arrival marks the first time since 2015 that these big cats have been on display at Taronga Zoo. Importantly, this Lion habitat will also enable crucial breeding programs to support insurance populations for Lions, which are sadly now extinct in 27 African countries.“It’s my absolute pleasure to welcome guests to Taronga’s African Savannah today,” says Cameron Kerr, CEO of Taronga. “Visitors will no doubt be surprised and delighted by the scale and authenticity of this new precinct, where African species interact as they would in the wild.”
“I am especially excited to see these big, beautiful cats back at Taronga Zoo Sydney. Our new Lion habitat utilises diverse topography to replicate the escarpments and rocky outcrops of the ‘kopje’ or high country, while also providing different areas for the Lions to socialise or withdraw depending on their choice of activity. This ensures positive animal welfare for the animals. The two viewing areas offer the chance to see the Lions in all parts of the exhibit, while the large glass windows and mesh panels allow for some amazing close encounters with the animals,” says Kerr.Joining the Lions in the African Savannah is Taronga’s tower of Giraffe, which includes Giraffes Jimiyu and Zarafa and adorable new arrivals Kito and Ebo, a mother and calf who recently arrived from Taronga Western Plains Zoo. They can be found living alongside Zebras Kaya and Bwana in a multi-species exhibit known as The Waterhole. Nearby, guests can get up close to Taronga’s pair of Fennec Fox and mob of Meerkats who have moved into brand new exhibits.
Central to the African Savannah is the story of Taronga’s conservation partnerships in Kenya with the Northern Rangeland Trust. The precinct has been authentically designed to connect guests to communities in this country by introducing them to Taronga’s ‘Creators of Hope’ – extraordinary people at the heart of wildlife conservation in Africa.Inspired by wildlife and these conservation crusaders, guests too can become Creators of Hope, by supporting community-driven solutions like Beads for Wildlife and purchasing beautiful, handcrafted bead products at Taronga’s retail outlets. This initiative is helping to empower women and diversify family income, which transforms lives and reduces reliance on livestock and natural resources in Northern Kenya.
NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean said he was pleased to see Taronga open what will be another major attraction.“The new state-of-the-art precinct will be a treat for the community which will showcase one of the best views in Australia while promoting vital conservation messages about the future of some iconic African species.”“The Zoo has always had an ability to lift our community’s spirits and I encourage everyone to plan a visit to the new African Savannah precinct,” Mr Kean said.
Taronga’s top priority is to ensure guests are safe, and this means some changes to the usual guest experience. Following advice provided by the NSW Government, daily visitor numbers are currently limited to lower than normal capacity, and guests, including Zoo Friends, will need to register their visit online before attending the Zoo. Hygiene measures including extra sanitizing stations, signage encouraging social distancing and increased cleaning have also been put in place throughout the Zoo.
For more information about African Savannah, ticket sales and the safety measures in place, visit Taronga.org.au/africansavannah
Source: Taronga Zoo