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Taronga Zoo A Review of Taronga Zoo

Discussion in 'Australia' started by WhistlingKite24, 30 Dec 2019.

  1. WhistlingKite24

    WhistlingKite24 Well-Known Member Premium Member

    2 Jul 2018
    Brisbane, Australia
    PART 1- A Review of Taronga Zoo

    I recently had the opportunity to visit Taronga Zoo during a trip to Sydney. Prior to this visit, I had never visited Taronga Zoo but ever since I can remember, it has long been a goal of mine. My walkthrough of Taronga comes from the perspective of someone who isn’t very familiar with the zoo nor its layout, so at times I might divert from the normal route of zoo shown on the map (see here: ). I often revisited areas or retraced my steps through certain sections that had multiple pathways or methods to view the animals. It took me a while to become acquainted with Taronga’s labyrinth of pathways. Also where relevant, I will compare certain aspects of Taronga Zoo with Melbourne Zoo (the only other major zoo I have visited in Australia). For the sake of completeness, I will also include the species that were signed but not seen (especially in the bird aviaries) in my walkthrough of the zoo and the final species list. As always, I hope my reviews provide further insight and provoke additional interest.

    A final note: I will divide this review into three sections- Part 1 (the majority of the Australian Walkabout and Backyard to Bush), Part 2 (Great Southern Oceans, Rainforest Trail and enclosures in the middle of the zoo) and Part 3 (the future African Savannah area, chimps, Reptile World and the remaining exhibits near the front of the zoo).

    After arriving at Taronga Zoo’s impressive entrance and paying admission, I wanted to try and get to the nocturnal house as quickly as possible, so I headed straight towards the Australian Walkabout (as the map calls the area). Walking through a winding leafy path, the first animals I saw were free-ranging Helmeted Guineafowl foraging near the Rainforest Aviary entrance. Don’t worry the species get more interesting from here.

    The nearby Rainforest Aviary left a lovely first impression. This lush walk-through aviary was filled with nesting Blue-faced Parrot Finches raising their young. In the treetops and low-lying branches, I saw a solid range of pigeons and doves; Purple-crowned Fruit Dove, Rose-crowned Fruit Dove, Brown Cuckoo Dove, White-headed Pigeon and Topknot Pigeon. The aviary was quite a tall structure with many matures trees and opportunities for the birds to escape public view. King Parrots, Eclectus Parrots (signed as E. r. macgillivaryi- the Australian subspecies) and a brief glimpse of a male Regent Bowerbird all added a pop of colour amongst the dense foliage. Additional species that were signed but not seen included Double-eyed Fig Parrot, Metallic Starling, Musk Lorikeet and Black-breasted Button Quail.

    Up next was the most exciting area of the zoo in my opinion, Taronga’s nocturnal house, Australian Nightlife. According to a plaque, the building opened in August 1972 and was later renovated in 1991. I noted seventeen exhibits and couldn’t really fault any of them. They all were of an adequate (and in most cases spacious) size and were well-furnished. I was able to see all the species in one enclosure or another except for two; Squirrel Gliders and Greater Stick-nest Rats. The first two enclosures housed Bilbies, mixed with Ghost Bats in the first enclosure and the unseen Greater Stick-nest Rats in the second one. The following enclosure had a nice mix, with Red-tailed Phascogale and Brush-tailed Bettong. After many years of seeing Rufous Bettongs it was great to finally see a different bettong species.

    The next enclosure had a mix of Feathertail Glider (always a crowd pleaser- there was an audience watching them scurry around the branches) and Yellow-bellied Glider. A Barn Owl was seen in the next enclosure which was mixed with a pair of very active Short-beaked Echidnas. So far all of these enclosures featured large glass viewing windows and plenty of branches and browse for the arboreal species. The sixth enclosure housed an active group of Fat-tailed Dunnarts.

    Moving along, there was an enclosure for more hyperactive Short-beaked Echidnas, and Squirrel Gliders. Next to it, was an enclosure for a Common Brushtail Possum. The following exhibit was particularly spacious for its inhabitants. This enclosure housed a mix of Yellow-bellied Glider, more Short-beaked Echidna (you can never have too many echidnas) and Long-nosed Potoroo. On my visit the yellow-bellied glider was hanging upside down from its nest box and stretching its gliding membranes. The next enclosure housed more Feathertail Gliders. This was then followed by two smaller reptile tanks for Golden-tailed Gecko and a massive New Caledonian Giant Gecko. The subsequent two enclosures contained rodents; Plains Rat and Spinifex Hopping Micee. The final corridor of the nocturnal house featured two large main enclosures that ran opposite of each other. The first enclosure (which was the only enclosure that was meshed) aimed to replicate a suburban backyard with heavy theming complete with artificial grass, a washing line, a magazine table and even a bicycle! This enclosure housed Long-nosed Bandicoot, Common Ringtail Possum and Tawny Frogmouth. All three species were very active during my visit.

    Suddenly out of the corner of my eye, I saw a dark rotund figure materialize from the enclosure opposite the backyard scenery. I heard members of the public call out that this strange creature was wombat or rather a small bear. However the mysterious creature in question was in fact their Barton’s Long-beaked Echidna! What a special animal. He shared his enclosure with Brush-tailed Bettong and Squirrel Glider. The final enclosure in the nocturnal house had another colony of Ghost Bats.

    After the wonders of the nocturnal house, I briefly came across a small pond for water birds. The majority of the species seemed to be wild birds (moorhens, black ducks etc.) with a few expections; Australian Shelduck and Wandering Whistling Duck. Looking at the map after my visit, it seems like I only saw one portion of the enclosure and therefore there must have been additional species of waterfowl. Past the water birds was a thickly-planted enclosure for Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo. I really liked all the tree ferns and ground covers. There was also a Southern Cassowary enclosure around this area. The enclosure was lushly-planted and well-landscaped.

    After retracing my steps past the nocturnal house, I reached the Platypus House. Before entering the dimly-lit building, there was an outdoor enclosure for a dozing Common Wombat. Inside there were a pair of tanks for Platypus (three species of monotreme in under half an hour!) This area had signage about Taronga’s success breeding the species, quirky facts and the main threats faced by platypus. All of it was presented very well. There was also a ‘platypus cam’ which live streamed the platypus’s burrow. Behind the two tanks was an enclosure for Fat-tailed Dunnart. After exiting the building, the next set of standard exhibits housed all the native crowd pleasers; Koalas, more Short-beaked Echidnas and a walk-through enclosure with Red Kangaroo, Swamp Wallaby, Red-necked Wallaby, Emu and Cape Barren Geese.

    Up next was the newly-built outdoor enclosure for more Platypus. The glass-fronted enclosure with a large body of water was divided in half (one half for the Platypus and the other half for Broad-shelled River Turtle and Macquarie Turtle). I really enjoyed watching the platypus swim out in the open and thought it was a very unique way of displaying the species. Once the new vegetation and trees settle and grow, this area will make for a very attractive exhibit. Attached to the platypus pond was the Wildlife Retreat (a newly-built hotel for paying guests to stay overnight).

    Past the nearby floral clock was the stunning Blue Mountains Bushwalk (Creatures of Wollemi) aviary which incorporates sandstone rock formations with mock rock, and featured a diverse range of vegetation and trees – notably the Wollemi Pine. There was also a body of water that ran through the aviary. This was easily one of the best walkthrough aviaries I have seen to date. The first group species that caught my attention were the parrots; Glossy Black Cockatoo, Gang-gang Cockatoo, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet and Superb Parrot. The pigeons were also well-represented with Peaceful Dove, Brown Cuckoo Dove, Rose-crowned Fruit Dove, Brush Bronzewing, Crested Pigeon and Emerald Dove all being noted. Zebra Finches were the commonest species found across the aviary and they were very well-established. Other bird species seen included Dollarbird, Noisy Pitta, Regent Honeyeater (a bird keeper later on told me that there are around thirty surplus honeyeaters living in the aviary), Wandering Whistling Duck, Striped Honeyeater and White-browed Woodswallow. I also caught a brief glimpse of a Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby, which reside in the aviary along with the birds.

    Whilst I was searching for the birds, I heard a kookaburra call coming from a corner of the aviary and thought to myself that a kookaburra would easily predate on some of these bird species. I then heard the call of noisy miners, followed by some unusual construction noises. I soon came to the realization that I was witnessing the full-display and mimicry of a male Superb Lyrebird!

    Unfortunately, he didn’t fully show himself however I did catch a glimpse of his magnificent tail feathers. Built into the sides of the mock rock were also some small terrariums for Southern Leaf-tailed Gecko and Cunningham’s Skink. Other species signed in this aviary included Sacred Kingfisher, Grey-crowned Babbler, Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, Little Lorikeet, Eastern Whipbird and Masked Lapwing.

    The Blue Mountains Bushwalk aviary is attached to another walk-through bird aviary. This aviary looks very new and hasn’t been stocked with birds yet. Continuing on, there was also a Red Kangaroo walk-through enclosure, however like the new aviary, it was also unoccupied. Guests staying in the wildlife retreat would be able to view the kangaroos via their hotel windows. There was also a lovely platypus statue in this area. Up next was a building for Tasmanian Devils, which had a pair of glass-fronted enclosures with additional signage and an interesting display about the devil’s plight in the wild. I liked the style of this area.

    The Backyard to Bush precinct (called Kids Trail on the map) aims to showcase the creatures that live in and around our increasingly urban world. This area can loosely be divided into four parts; the house, the garden, the farmyard and the bush. The zoo literally tries and replicates all four areas with heavy theming found throughout the entire area.

    The Backyard to Bush House is divided into several rooms and had individual animal enclosures within each room. The first room contained standard tanks for Central Bearded Dragon, Golden Orb Weaver and Eastern Long-necked Turtle. There were also a pair of smaller tanks for Green Tree Frog and Green and Golden Bell Frog. Personally, I felt like they could have done a better job arranging some of these exhibits, it didn’t really have any flow. Another criticism was the lack of signage across the entire house. The majority of the signage didn’t have any scientific names and some of the animals were generically labelled (eg. ‘bearded dragon’ or ‘scorpion’).

    The other room that had animal exhibits within the house- the kitchen, began with a set of eight tanks (four on either side of a stand) for invertebrates. The first four tanks were nicely-done with leaf litter and had other appropriate substrates. These tanks contained Rainforest Snail, Scorpion (unlabeled species, most likely either Flinders Ranges or Desert Scorpion), Golden Huntsman Spider and Redback Spider. The next four exhibits had household items within the tanks. The four tanks featured a light bulb, a powerpoint with a cable, a window pane and a small picket fence. They housed a Daddy Long-legs Spider, a White-tailed Spider, a Black House Spider and a Net-casting Spider respectively. I wasn’t a big fan of these tanks. I thought they were tacky and that the spiders were better of having more natural coverings. Also in the kitchen were a pair of large vertical tanks for Spiny Leaf Insect and Goliath Stick Insect. I may have missed some additional enclosures within the house, some of the tanks could have been well-hidden

    Outside of the house, there was a well-planted ornamental garden designed to attract flower-loving insects. I saw a few wild orchard swallowtail butterflies. The garden had a Phasmid Greenhouse which was a small building with four enclosures for Rainforest Katydid, Goliath Stick Insect, Spiny Leaf Insect and an additional unsigned species of stick insect. There was also a small tank for a Red-bellied Black Snake wedged in a wood pile nearby. Continuing through garden, there was a standard petting area for Domestic Rabbits. A volunteer was telling me that Queenslanders were their most popular customers to pat a rabbit (for those who don’t know it is illegal to keep rabbits as pets in the state of Queensland). Adjacent to the rabbits was an aviary for Bush Budgerigars and a pair of King Quail.

    The next section was the farmyard area with standard paddocks for Alpaca, Domestic Pig, Domestic Goat and a chicken coop. There was also a wooden building that replicated a shearing shed. It contained a series of small enclosures for Communal Huntsman Spider, House Mouse, Shingleback, Cunningham’s Skink and what looked like locust (there was no signage on their enclosure). There was also a display for European Honeybee with a bee hive behind glass.

    The bush area began with a standard walk-through enclosure with more Red Kangaroo, Emu and Quokka (unseen). This area also contained a cave-like structure called the Wombat Burrow which featured at least two Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats. There was also a tank for Spinifex Hopping Mice. Throughout the burrow there were smaller tanks built into the mock rock. The species seen in these tanks included Bird-eating Spider, Sydney Funnel Web Spider, Flinders Ranges Scorpion and Giant Burrowing Cockroach. Kudos to Taronga for exhibiting a nice range of invertebrates across the entire precinct. They rarely receive the attention they deserve. The final enclosure in this area was a glass-fronted exhibit for a very active Short-beaked Echidna.

    Part two will discuss the magnificent Great Southern Oceans, the Rainforest Trail and the other enclosures situated in the middle of the zoo.
    Last edited: 31 Dec 2019
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  2. Dassie rat

    Dassie rat Well-Known Member

    18 Jun 2011
    London, UK
    When I went round the world in 1991, one of the places I most wanted to see was the nocturnal house. At least I saw a platypus, which was something else on my list.

    I spent a long time trying to take a photo of a male superb lyrebird moving in a circular route. None of the 12 attempted photos came out. It is a spectacular bird.
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  3. WhistlingKite24

    WhistlingKite24 Well-Known Member Premium Member

    2 Jul 2018
    Brisbane, Australia
    PART 2- A Review of Taronga Zoo

    Before I continue, I forgot to the mention that next to the platypus pond, there was a vacant enclosure that formerly housed Black-handed Spider Monkeys for many years.

    Prior to actually reaching Great Southern Oceans, I briefly saw three different animal exhibits. The first enclosure was for Taronga Zoo’s three Giraffes (a castrated male and two females). They lived in the enclosure whichformerly housed Taronga Zoo’s Asian elephant bull. Considering the giraffe move out in 2020, I wonder what Taronga Zoo will do with the enclosure (their male elephant calf is still a few years away from maturity). This area also contained the Elephant Temple which remains empty except for some signage.

    Along a quiet path, there was also an enclosure for a Saltwater Crocodile. This enclosure had large glass viewing windows and the crocodile had access to a large pool. It was also thickly-planted and overall a very nice exhibit. Located in a small corner of the zoo was the lovely Moore Park Aviary. After looking on ZooChat for further information it looks like this aviary has housed a myriad of animals over the years. On my visit it contained Palm Cockatoo (I only saw one but the aviary was thick with vegetation) and Luzon Bleeding-heart Dove. Blue-faced Honeyeater and King Quail were also signed by not seen. This historic aviary was one of the few remaining windows into Taronga Zoo’s rich past.

    Showcasing the region’s marine life, the multimillion-dollar Great Southern Oceans opened in 2008 and features spacious enclosures and pools for Taronga’s collection of seals, penguins and pelicans. This precinct is located in quite a steep area of the zoo and there were a series of ramps and stairs to navigate around the enclosures.

    Coming down from the Moore Park Aviary and past the old aquarium, the first enclosure I briefly saw contained a pool for Fiordland Penguin from a distance (I saw at least three individuals however a lot of their enclosure was away from public view). After the penguins, I saw a large spacious enclosure for a male Australian Sea Lion. This was my first time seeing a mature male of the species (the gold cap is quite distinctive). I liked all the rock work found through the entire precinct.

    Entering a building, I reached the underwater viewing areas for the seals and penguins. Both windows were very large and expansive. The first underwater viewing area featured seals (I saw New Zealand Fur Seal and female Australian Sea Lion). The second was underwater viewing for the Fiordland Penguins. There was also an overhead glass window for the penguins. It was really cool watching the penguins glide above your head. Whilst I loved the entire area, it would have been nice to see a few fish or small shark species like Melbourne exhibits, but I’m just nitpicking. The building also had some interesting displays about the marine life in Sydney Harbour and a display with all the penguin species.

    Upon exiting the building, you reach the underwater viewing for the Little Penguin enclosure. At first I thought this enclosure was connected with the Fiordland penguins, however a keeper was telling a group of people that the zoo has two penguin enclosures; this enclosure for the majority of the Little Penguins and another for the Fiordland Penguins and a few Little Penguins. Up next were the enclosures for the seals seen in the underwater viewing area. Again, they were nicely-done and visitors were able to cross a small bridge across the enclosure for a better view. The zoo also holds other species of seal that I missed (I didn’t go to the seal show). To finish I also saw a standard pelican enclosure for an Australian Pelican on a later visit around the area.

    The next section, the Rainforest Trail (formerly Wild Asia) displays the majority of the zoo exotic mammals and birds. Like Melbourne Zoo, in recent years the zoo has mixed species from other geographical regions and presented the area as a generic rainforest precinct.

    It began with a paddock for Asian Elephant (two females and a male calf). Living in a city zoo with a restricted amount space, the elephants inevitably had a limited amount of room and their paddock was quite cramped. The one positive was that they had access to a large deep pool. During my visit, the male calf (Jai Dee) was washing his food in the water. There was also a viewing area for the elephants near an eating area with another body of water for the elephants. Like Melbourne Zoo, there was also an opportunity to view the elephant barn with additional signage and information about the elephants.

    Continuing along the trail, I reached the thickly-planted Palm Aviary. I really liked how Taronga combined the Asian bird species available with the relevant Australian species, I thought it was quite effective. This walk-through aviary was thickly planted with bamboo and palms. Red-whiskered Bulbuls (I really like this species), Metallic Starlings and Black-headed Munias added a hive of activity in this aviary. Pigeons were represented with some eye-catching species; Nicobar Pigeon, Luzon-bleeding Heart Dove and Purple-crowned Fruit Dove. I also caught a brief glimpse of a Golden Pheasant scratching up the leaf litter. The final species I saw in this aviary was an Eastern Whipbird (whose ear-splitting calls resonated across the small aviary). Additional species signed (note some of signage looked quite old) in the Palm Aviary included Double-eyed Fig Parrot, Regent Bowerbird, Pied Imperial Pigeon and White-bibbed Ground Dove.

    Right before exiting the aviary was the first glass viewing window for Taronga’s group of ten Francois’ Langurs. The langurs were housed in a large netted enclosure with mature trees, a rocky area and a small waterfall. They are a very striking species (especially the orangey-brown baby) and I hope more zoos acquire them.

    Speaking of a species that should be in more zoos in the region, the enclosure for their Eastern Bongo ran opposite of the langurs. I liked how the perimeter of the fence was thickly-planted providing some privacy for the bongo. It was my first time seeing the species, they are way bigger than I expected. Now is also a good time to mention that this trail had free-ranging Red Junglefowl. Continuing along was a lovely enclosure for their male Binturong who was very active on my visit. His enclosure was nicely-done and had a good amount of climbing opportunities. Nearby was the first Pygmy Hippopotamus enclosure (the hippo was in the pool). I felt both enclosures for the species were quite cramped (particularly the second enclosure with underwatering viewing).

    Up next was a standard enclosure for their family of Asian Small-clawed Otters. This area also contained a small themed building with large glass viewing windows to view both the otters and the second Pygmy Hippopotamus underwater. The second hippo enclosure also housed a pair of Ruddy Shelduck with their two ducklings. It was great to see this rare species in Australia (I had only ever seen the species at Darling Downs Zoo). I also didn’t see the second Pygmy Hippopotamus in its enclosure, I hope it’s still there.

    Nearby was an enclosure for a pair of White-cheeked Gibbon. Their exhibit was a large meshed enclosure with an ample range of opportunities for brachiation. Continuing on was the superb exhibit for their Fishing Cat. This enclosure had two viewing windows and was lushly planted. I saw both fishing cats (the only fishing cats currently in Australia); one was in the main enclosure and the other was in a den area. They had access to each other via protected contact through mesh and both showed interest in each other. It would be great if Taronga bred the species.

    The Rainforest Trail has another walk-through aviary called the Wetland Aviary. This aviary was lushly-planted with a waterfall and a pond area for Koi. The birds seen around the pond included Pied Heron, Wandering Whistling Duck, Glossy Ibis and Mandarin Duck. There was also a nesting pair of Royal Spoonbills with two young chicks. Whenever someone got too close one of the parents would try and swoop them. This aviary also contained Red Lory, Pied Imperial Pigeon, Figbird, Pheasant Coucal, Java Sparrow and a scruffy-looking Lady Amherst’s Pheasant. Species that were signed but not seen in this aviary were Eastern Whipbird and unusually, Red-lored Amazon Parrot. I accidentally missed the Red Pandas which were also located around this area.

    Also near the Rainforest Trail was a large aviary which formerly house Andean Condors (the former breeding pair moved to a private facility, the zoo still has two younger females). Unfortunately the enclosure sits vacant and has no current occupants. A shame really. Next to this aviary, was a large enclosure for Aldabran Tortoise. This was a generously-sized space for the tortoises. The nearby enclosure for Malayan Sun Bears was a tad smaller than I was expecting however it was still a nice exhibit for its inhabitants. One of the bears was up a tall tree during my visit.

    I skipped Tiger Trek. The keeper said there was up to a 40-minute wait in line. Considering what I’ve read on the forum about it, I wasn’t too keen to see it anyway. It does seem to take up a significant area of the zoo. A short walk from the sun bears and tigers, led to a large enclosure for Taronga’s family group of Western Lowland Gorillas. Whilst I much prefer Melbourne’s gorilla enclosure, Taronga Zoo’s gorilla enclosure is still a nice enough exhibit for the group. The only gorillas I saw were two male youngsters sitting in the main exhibit and an adult female eating in an adjoining enclosure. The gorillas had access to their off-display area, the main enclosure, day rooms and a final open-air enclosure.

    The final few animal exhibits found in this middle section of the zoo included an enclosure for the five Capybara, a standard Meerkat enclosure, an island exhibit for Cotton-top Tamarin and a few Koi, and little further on, an enclosure for a small group of Ring-tailed Lemur. None of these were particularly noteworthy (though I had never seen tamarins exhibited in such a large tree before). There was a lot of empty space between these enclosures.

    Part three will discuss the chimpanzees, Reptile World, the remaining enclosures near the front of the zoo and the future African Savannah opening in 2020.
    Last edited: 31 Dec 2019
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  4. Zorro

    Zorro Well-Known Member

    2 Jan 2017
    West of the black stump
    Enjoying reading your review looking forward to part 3.
    I am a little surprised that Taronga does not just move the last 3 elephants out to Dubbo where they are going to be better off long term!. The Fishing cats a few years ago were one of the pick small species for zoos in the region then we see the same loss of interest we have seen in so many other species in ZAA collections!. The Langars have been at Taronga for some years now and again these where the pick species for Langers within our region with all other species to be phased out, well it appears apart from this one group and to surplus males at Mogo another plan that never panned out with our animal managers! I feel if the rest of the elephant herd was moved out to TWPZ I believe perhaps a pair of Indian rhinos would make a good choice for the exhibit from what I can remember the Original plan was to bring in two pairs into the region which as we can see never happened, also I feel when Melbourne elephants are moved out to Werribee zoo perhaps their exhibit could house another pair of Indian rhinos a really nice draw card and a flagship species for the zoo!
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  5. animal_expert01

    animal_expert01 Well-Known Member

    13 Sep 2015
    QLD Australia
    Fantastic review! Just out of interest, did the palm aviary have one or two whipbirds? As the classic call is actually made by two different birds, a male and female calling. Was it the full call or only on half?

    The Rainforest aviary, palm aviary, nocturnal house and Wollemi aviary sound fantastic! Also, would you happen to have a photo of the fishing cat exhibit?
  6. WhistlingKite24

    WhistlingKite24 Well-Known Member Premium Member

    2 Jul 2018
    Brisbane, Australia
    I saw (and heard) only one Eastern Whipbird in the corner of one of the trees. Yes, the aviaries, the nocturnal house (and the wonderful reptile house as you'll here about in part three) were all highlights.
    Here are two photos of the fishing cat enclosure that I posted in the gallery yesterday (one photo each of the two viewing windows):
    Fishing Cat Enclosure - ZooChat
    Fishing Cat Enclosure - ZooChat
    Last edited: 31 Dec 2019
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  7. Hipporex

    Hipporex Well-Known Member

    19 Oct 2018
    Very nice review thus far! I only wish I had the patience to write out ones about facilities I've been to.
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  8. WhistlingKite24

    WhistlingKite24 Well-Known Member Premium Member

    2 Jul 2018
    Brisbane, Australia
    PART 3- A Review of Taronga Zoo

    The chimpanzee enclosure was excellent. It was divided into two sections; the main enclosure and a side area that could be closed off for introductions and times of social tension within the group. The front of the main chimpanzee enclosure is moated and Koi lived in the water. Also there were a series of glass viewing windows enabling visitors to get closer to the chimps. The tall structures (a network of large towers, wooden platforms, hammocks and climbing ropes) also provided the chimps with complex climbing opportunities.

    During my visit, the chimpanzee group seemed relatively calm despite losing their alpha male a month ago. The young infant (Safiri) was with a small group of females on a wooden platform in the side enclosure. The majority of the chimpanzees were in this side area. I also saw their elderly female (Spitter) resting at the back of the main enclosure.

    Nearby was the future African Savannah area. The majority of this section was still closed off however I still managed to take a few photos of the recent developments. I saw the new enclosures for the fennec fox, meerkat and the waterhole exhibit for ostrich, giraffe and zebra.

    The fennec fox in particular, was particularly generous in size and I’m glad Taronga will give them a place in the zoo again in the savannah area (despite being a desert species). The meerkat enclosure looked pretty standard with a glass-fronted exhibit with mock rock and succulents. The waterhole exhibit was also a nice enclosure with some new vegetation (I don’t think it will last long with giraffe and zebra). There was a lot of theming found through the area as well. Unfortunately I didn’t get a look at the future lion enclosure. I really think a savannah aviary with waxbills and Namaqua doves or lovebirds, and a leopard tortoise enclosure would really enhance and help tie in this new area.

    The next portion of the zoo housed the majority of Taronga Zoo’s herptile collection. Prior to entering the reptile house, there was a small building with a series of glass viewing windows. These windows enabled visitors to view a few Southern Corroboree Frogs in their small mossy tanks.

    Taronga Zoo’s reptile house is superb and was much larger in size and species diversity than I expected. It was divided into several sections and was punctuated with a few outdoor exhibits for the larger reptiles and turtles. It was quite congested and noisy in the reptile house so I was surprised that I was able to see everything except for two species (Chinese three-striped box turtle and tuatara). The reptile collection itself incorporated a good balance of exotic species, the common drawcards and some unusual native species. The layout of the reptile house is also very straightforward with all the tanks positioned in one easy-to-follow row.

    The reptile area commenced with an open-topped enclosure for their male Komodo Dragon. This was situated right outside the indoor reptile house. The indoor area began with an empty tank that was labelled for Komodo Dragon. Continuing on there were three well-furnished tanks for their frogs; Red-eyed Tree Frog, Green and Golden Bell Frog and Dwarf Tree Frog. Past the frogs were similar tanks for Veiled Chameleon and Golden-tailed Gecko. Both tanks were nicely-done.

    The next enclosure housed the critically endangered Yellow-spotted Bell Frog. I was surprised to see this species on-display. These frogs had a slightly larger tank than the previous amphibians. Up next was a larger tank for a Pacific Boa, followed by two tanks for highly-threatened turtle species; Bellinger River Turtle and Chinese Three-striped Box Turtle. The box turtle’s enclosure was particularly well-planted with pothos and bromeliads.

    The Tuatara was next with a nice rocky enclosure unfortunately it remained unseen. The next two enclosures were particularly large; one enclosure had a large Reticulated Python and the other a mix of Elongated Tortoise, Philippine Sailfin Dragon and River Cooter.

    Continuing on there were two small tanks; one was vacant (formerly housing Booroolong Frogs) and other housed an Eyelash Viper. Next up were more venomous snakes with large well-furnished tanks for Coastal Taipan, Monocled Cobra and Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake. Before the next section, the final four enclosures were for Gila Monster, Broad-headed Snake, Star Tortoise and Land Mullet.

    The next room contained the larger and generally more arboreal species of reptiles. I really liked the flow of these enclosures and the range of species seen here was excellent. The first enclosure housed a Green Anaconda who had access to a large body of water. The next six enclosures were some of my favourites; they contained Fijian Banded Iguana, Plumed Basilisk (along with the Fijian iguanas, my new favourite species of exotic lizard we have in Australia), a mix of Scrub Python and Boyd’s Forest Dragon, another mix of Green Tree Python and White-lipped Tree Frog, a Fijian Crested Iguana and a pair of Green Iguana. It was really cool to compare two species of Fijian iguanas.

    The green iguanas also had access to a small outdoor area connected via a tunnel. Next to this outdoor area were enclosures for turtles (Macquarie Turtle in one enclosure and an adjacent enclosure for Broad-shelled River Turtle and Eastern Long-necked Turtle), Red-bellied Black Snake and Rhinoceros Iguana. At the end of these outdoor enclosures, I thought that was the end of this wonderfully-executed reptile house.

    But wait there was more!

    I soon realized there was an additional indoor area for more native species. This area began with a set of five desert-themed tanks for Central Netted Dragon, Eastern Pilbara Spiny-tail Skink, Stimson’s Python, Goldfields Crevice Skink and Hosmer’s Skink. Continuing past a standard tank for Eastern Bluetongue and Frill-necked Lizard, there was a large tank for an Olive Python and an unidentified turtle (I’m awaiting an identification from the zoo). Two more tanks continued the python theme with enclosures for Black-headed Python and Centralian Python. Other than an enclosure for Inland Taipan, the final row tanks included small species of reptiles; Pygmy Python, Red-barred Dragon, Night Skink and Giant Cave Gecko. The final two outdoor enclosures in the reptile area were for a mix of Cunningham’s Skink, Land Mullet and Eastern Bluetongue, and Freshwater Crocodile (not seen) and Northern Long-necked Turtle.

    The Bush Bird aviaries near the front of the zoo were situated in a quiet garden area. There were four main aviaries with a fantastic range of species, many of which are rarely seen in captivity. A keeper in the area was attempting to catch a female Scarlet Honeyeater that had unfortunately escaped from her aviary. He also told me and a few other members of the public, that the birds in these aviaries regularly change and often species will go on and off-display.

    Considering that the bird species are regularly shifting, I will just list the species I saw across the four aviaries. The species seen included Diamond Firetail, Double-bar Finch, Blue-faced Parrot Finch, Scarlet Honeyeater, Wompoo Fruit Dove, Purple-crowned Fruit Dove, Peaceful Dove, Emerald Dove, Brown Cuckoo Dove, Variegated Fairy Wren, Golden Whistler, Rufous Whistler, Forest Kingfisher, Rainbow Bee-eater, Crimson Chat, Little Lorikeet, Turquoise Parrot, Figbird, Banded Lapwing and Clamorous Reed Warbler. A wonderful selection of species. Species signed but not seen included Welcome Swallow, Rose-crowned Fruit Dove and King Quail.

    Nearby, there was also a small aviary thickly planted with reeds and low-lying shrubs. This aviary had a lovely mix of Gouldian Finch, Masked Finch, Crimson Finch, Variegated Fairy Wren, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Green Pygmy Goose and an Australasian Grebe. I loved the emphasis on waxbills. The second-last enclosure I saw was for Koalas. Their enclosure could be viewed up a ramp that encircled the exhibit. The final enclosure was for Black-capped Squirrel Monkey. Their enclosure was comprised of a few islands there were thickly planted with papyrus and had a few mature trees. It looked like the monkeys had access to the nearby Taronga Learning Institute via a series of branches. Besides apes, I felt like the zoo really lacked primate species. They only had one species of lemur, one species of callitrichid, one species of New-World monkey and one species of Old-World monkey on display. The bare minimum really.

    You might be wondering to yourself after reading the 5500-word walk through of the zoo, how did I overall rate Taronga Zoo? In short, very highly.

    The nocturnal house, bird aviaries and the reptile house easily won me over. They all had their own unique features and details, and were all well-thought-out. The overall atmosphere, the panoramic views and the historical elements of zoo all made for a very positive experience. The rest of the zoo was really hit and miss at times. Some of the enclosures (especially for the charismatic megafauna) lacked, facing inevitable space constraints, whilst others areas and exhibits excelled with innovation and ingenuity. Taronga Zoo is a place of great juxtaposition with a unique mix of the brilliant and at times, the mediocre.

    In saying this, I encourage others to visit this well-known zoo and provide their own insights and opinions. A species list will be posted below and more photos of the enclosures and animals can be seen here: Taronga Zoo - ZooChat

    Reviews of WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo and SEA LIFE Sydney (the dugong is alive and well by the way) are also on their way.
    Last edited: 31 Dec 2019
    Bubalus, Jambo, Zoofan15 and 7 others like this.
  9. Zorro

    Zorro Well-Known Member

    2 Jan 2017
    West of the black stump
    A excellect review looking forward to reviews of WLSZ and SLS
    WhistlingKite24 likes this.
  10. WhistlingKite24

    WhistlingKite24 Well-Known Member Premium Member

    2 Jul 2018
    Brisbane, Australia
    PART 4- Species List
    These are the species that were seen and/or signed at Taronga Zoo on the 27th December 2019. The * indicates that the species was signed but not seen.
    (Note: I didn't manage to get to the bird show which has several species of raptor, condors and parrots not represented on the list).


    Short-beaked Echidna
    Barton’s Long-beaked Echidna
    Tasmanian Devil
    Red-tailed Phascogale
    Fat-tailed Dunnart
    Long-nosed Bandicoot
    Common Wombat
    Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat
    Common Ringtail Possum
    Common Brushtail Possum
    Yellow-bellied Glider
    Squirrel Glider *
    Feathertail Glider
    Long-nosed Potoroo
    Brush-tailed Bettong
    Quokka *
    Red Kangaroo
    Red-necked Wallaby
    Swamp Wallaby
    Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby
    Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo
    Asian Elephant
    Domestic Rabbit
    House Mouse
    Spinifex Hopping Mouse
    Plains Rat
    Greater Stick-nest Rat *
    Ring-tailed Lemur
    Cotton-top Tamarin
    Bolivian Squirrel Monkey
    Francois Langur
    White-cheeked Gibbon
    Western Lowland Gorilla
    Ghost Bat
    Domestic Pig
    Domestic Goat
    Pygmy Hippopotamus
    Sumatran Tiger *
    Fishing Cat
    Malayan Sun Bear
    Red Panda *
    Asian Small-clawed Otter
    Australian Sea Lion
    New Zealand Fur Seal

    Southern Cassowary
    Wandering Whistling Duck
    Cape Barren Goose
    Green Pygmy-Goose
    Australian Shelduck
    Ruddy Shelduck
    Mandarin Duck
    Helmeted Guineafowl
    King Quail
    Red Junglefowl (and Domestic Chicken)
    Golden Pheasant
    Lady Amherst’s Pheasant
    Australasian Grebe
    White-headed Pigeon
    Brown Cuckoo Dove
    Emerald Dove
    White-breasted Ground Dove *
    Brush Bronzewing
    Crested Pigeon
    Wonga Pigeon
    Peaceful Dove
    Nicobar Pigeon
    Luzon Bleeding-heart Dove
    Wompoo Fruit Dove
    Rose-crowned Fruit Dove
    Purple-crowned Fruit Dove
    Torresian Imperial Pigeon
    Topknot Pigeon
    Pheasant Coucal
    Tawny Frogmouth
    Banded Lapwing
    Masked Lapwing *
    Black-breasted Button Quail *
    Little Penguin
    Fjordland Penguin
    Australian Pelican
    Pied Heron
    Glossy Ibis
    Royal Spoonbill
    Barn Owl
    Sacred Kingfisher *
    Forest Kingfisher
    Rainbow Bee-eater
    Palm Cockatoo
    Glossy Black Cockatoo
    Gang-gang Cockatoo
    Superb Parrot
    King Parrot
    Eclectus Parrot
    Turquoise Parrot
    Double-eyed Fig Parrot *
    Little Lorikeet
    Musk Lorikeet *
    Red Lory
    Scaly-breasted Lorikeet
    Red-lored Amazon Parrot *
    Noisy Pitta
    Superb Lyrebird
    Regent Bowerbird
    Variegated Fairy Wren
    Scarlet Honeyeater
    Regent Honeyeater
    Striped Honeyeater
    Blue-faced Honeyeater *
    Crimson Chat
    Rufous Whistler
    Golden Whistler
    Grey-crowned Babbler *
    Eastern Whipbird
    White-browed Woodswallow
    Australasian Figbird
    Welcome Swallow *
    Red-whiskered Bulbul
    Metallic Starling
    Charmorous Reed Warbler
    Diamond Firetail
    Crimson Finch
    Zebra Finch
    Double-bar Finch
    Masked Finch
    Blue-faced Parrot Finch
    Gouldian Finch
    Chestnut-breasted Mannikin *
    Black-headed Munia
    Java Sparrow

    Saltwater Crocodile
    Freshwater Crocodile*
    Northern Long-necked Turtle
    Eastern Long-necked Turtle
    Broad-shelled River Turtle
    Macquarie (Murray River) Turtle
    Bellinger River Turtle
    Chinese Three-striped Box Turtle*
    River Cooter
    Aldabran Tortoise
    Star Tortoise
    Elongated Tortoise
    Golden-tailed Gecko
    Southern Leaf-tailed Gecko
    New Caledonian Giant Gecko
    Giant Cave Gecko
    Land Mullet
    Cunningham’s Skink
    Eastern Pilbara Spiny-tailed Skink
    Hosmer’s Skink
    Goldfields Crevice Skink
    Night Skink
    Eastern Bluetongue
    Philippine Sailfin Dragon
    Central Bearded Dragon
    Red-barred Dragon
    Boyd’s Forest Dragon
    Central Netted Dragon
    Frill-necked Lizard
    Veiled Chameleon
    Green Iguana
    Rhinoceros Iguana
    Fijian Crested Iguana
    Fijian Banded Iguana
    Plumed Basilisk
    Gila Monster
    Komodo Dragon
    Green Anaconda
    Pacific Ground Boa
    Reticulated Python
    Olive Python
    Centralian Python
    Scrub Python
    Black-headed Python
    Green Tree Python
    Stimson’s Python
    Children’s Python
    Spotted Python
    Pygmy Python
    Monocled Cobra
    Coastal Taipan
    Inland Taipan
    Red-bellied Black Snake
    Broad-headed Snake
    Eyelash Viper
    Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

    Eastern Dwarf Frog
    White-lipped Tree Frog
    Red-eyed Tree Frog (Litoria chloris)
    Green Tree Frog
    Green and Golden Bell Frog
    Yellow-spotted Bell Frog
    Southern Corroboree Frog


    Rainforest Snail
    Sydney Funnel Web
    Golden Orb Weaver
    Redback Spider
    Golden Huntsman Spider
    Communal Huntsman Spider
    Daddy Long-legs Spider
    Black House Spider
    Bird-eating Spider
    White-tailed Spider
    Net-casting Spider
    Flinders Ranges Scorpion
    Goliath Stick Insect
    Spiny Leaf Insect
    Giant Burrowing Cockroach
    Rainforest Katydid*
    European Honeybee
    Jambo, Tafin, Zoofan15 and 4 others like this.
  11. WhistlingKite24

    WhistlingKite24 Well-Known Member Premium Member

    2 Jul 2018
    Brisbane, Australia
    A bit random but I just came to the realization that my review of Taronga marks my tenth review I have posted on ZooChat! I hope you have all enjoyed the reviews I have posted over the past year and a half. I hope to continue the tradition for many years to come. :)
    My other reviews are below:

    1. Wildlife HQ- July 2018
    A Review of Wildlife HQ [Queensland Zoo]

    2. SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast- October 2018
    A Review of SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast [Underwater World]

    3. Ipswich Nature Centre- November 2018
    A Review of Ipswich Nature Centre [Ipswich Nature Centre]

    4. Darling Downs Zoo- December 2018
    A Review of Darling Downs Zoo [Darling Downs Zoo]

    5. Sea World Gold Coast- February 2019
    Sea World Gold Coast - 17/2/2019 [Sea World Gold Coast]

    6. Dreamworld- June 2019
    A Review of Dreamworld [Dreamworld]

    7. Australia Zoo- June 2019
    A Review of Australia Zoo [Australia Zoo]

    8. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary- November 2019
    A Review of Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary [Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary]

    9. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary- December 2019
    A Review of Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary [Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary]

    10. Taronga Zoo- December 2019
    A Review of Taronga Zoo [Taronga Zoo]
    Jambo, Zorro, Geoffrey and 1 other person like this.
  12. animal_expert01

    animal_expert01 Well-Known Member

    13 Sep 2015
    QLD Australia
    A slightly off topic question but does anyone know why scrub pythons and. Boyd’s forest dragons/angle headed dragons are always kept together? It appears that pretty much every Australian zoo that’s keeps both species keeps them together.

    It seems to me that the lizards would be a perfect meal for the pythons, is there something I’m missing here?
  13. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

    7 Mar 2015
    New Zealand
    Great review as always @WhistlingKite24!

    Taronga’s elephant temple (built 1915) reminds me of the design of Wellington Zoo’s elephant temple (built 1927) in the sense they both feature the domed roof (actually more reminiscent of a mosque than a temple). They’re interesting pieces of architecture that I’m glad both zoo’s have been able to retain and repurpose.

    Did you hear from any of the keepers how the Chimpanzee community has coped with the death of Lubutu? Changes to hierarchy etc.?
    Jambo, Tafin and WhistlingKite24 like this.
  14. WhistlingKite24

    WhistlingKite24 Well-Known Member Premium Member

    2 Jul 2018
    Brisbane, Australia
    Thanks @Zoofan15 !
    I had every intention to find a keeper and ask how the chimps were coping however I ran out of time, sorry.
    Jambo and Zoofan15 like this.
  15. WhistlingKite24

    WhistlingKite24 Well-Known Member Premium Member

    2 Jul 2018
    Brisbane, Australia
    For anyone interested, I have gone through the invertebrates list and contacted the zoo seeking identifications for particular species.
    In the Backyard to Bush house, the rainforest snails were Giant Panda Snails (Hedleyella falconeri) and the scorpion was identified as a Desert Scorpion (Urodacus yaschenkoi).
    The unidentified species of stick insect located in the Phasmid Greenhouse was a Strong Stick Insect (Anchiale briareus).
    The locust species housed in the barn area were Australian Plague Locusts (Chortoicetes terminifera).
    Last edited: 14 Apr 2020
    the racoon has spoken and Jambo like this.