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Taronga Zoo Christmas Day at Taronga

Discussion in 'Australia' started by Hix, 26 Dec 2008.

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  1. Hix

    Hix Wildlife Enthusiast and Lover of Islands Premium Member

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    It's almost like a tradition with me - if I'm not working on Christmas Day, I'll pop into Taronga and catch up with my friends who do have to work. And sometimes, even if I do have to work for part of the day, I'll still pop in as well. I've been doing this for the last 20 odd years.

    The day looked great in the morning: the sun was out and there was no wind. But as soon as I got to the zoo and took my camera out of it's bag, clouds appeared and blocked the sun all day. It re-appeared about 3:20pm, just as I was leaving. While this spoils some pics by slowing down the shutter speed bcause of lower light levels, the main advantage is that there are no shadows and so much less contrast, in some cases this makes the photo better because you see more detail and the image appears more even. I took a total of 503 images (using 3 cameras) for the day, a personal best! (Back at home I deleted 232, to leave me with 271 for the day).

    Arrived just after 9:00 and expected to be gone by midday, but I ended up leaving at around 3:30.

    Here's what caught my eye during the day:

    (Warning: this will be a long read - bring a pillow!)

    Construction work continues on the site of the old Koala Encounters, between the Kangaroo Walkthrough and the Platypus House. The construction area has been extended right into the Kangaroo Walkthrough, running up alongside the eastern pathway almost to the shelter. Meant to find out what's going there, but forgot to ask.

    Platypus tank in the PLatypus House is still undergoing renovations, so only the water rats, sleeping wombat and Spinifex Hopping Mice to look at:
    http://www.zoochat.com/photo/spinifex-hopping-mouse-26066.jpg
    (One of the Cameras takes infrared photos)

    Nocturnal House: Saw the Red-tailed Phascogale (or Little Red Phascogale). Never seen this species before and was surprised it was so much smaller than it's larger cousin. If I had seen one in the wild I would not have picked it as phascogale. Too dark to get any photos, infrared or otherwise. Wanted some better photos of the Northern Quoll (or Satanella) but it was cuirled up under it's light and not looking anything much like an animal at all. The only other thing in the Noccy House I wanted to see (and wanted to try and photograph) was the Feathertail Gliders. Not too sure how I would get a picture because these guys NEVER sit still, always on the move, running across the glass, jumping from branch to branch. But I didn't see any. They must have all gone into their box. Disappointed.

    Rainforest Aviary: I didn't have any vertical shots of the interior to show how tall the trees are, so I stopped just inside the doors to take one. I noticed a shrub beside the path that had a brach that appeared to be vibrating somewhat and closer inspection found a small nest. While I watched, a Silvereye came down to feed a chick in the nest. When the female had gone to get more food, I managed to get this pic before she returned:
    http://www.zoochat.com/photo/silvereye-chick-nest-26064.jpg

    I found another nest with the female sitting further on inthe aviary
    http://www.zoochat.com/photo/silvereye-nest-26065.jpg

    and in the afternoon when I returned I also found an Emerald Dove sitting on a nest in the same Lilly-pilly as the first Silvereye nest.
    http://www.zoochat.com/photo/emerald-dove-nest-26023.jpg

    Also, just after the sun came out, I saw a male Victoria's Riflebird having a bath and preen in the stream. Photos just don't do any justice to the metallic sheen on this guy's feathers!
    http://www.zoochat.com/photo/victorias-riflebird-26076.jpg

    Because of discussion thread regarding South American parrots I went past the Helmore Aviary with the macaws and conures - but despite some dead logs and leaf litter on part of the ground area, there were no agoutis visible.

    The old seal pools, the main pool and leopard seal pool (westernmost pool) are full of water, with two fountains going in the main pool. The two easternmost pools have been filled in and native plants added to make a nice garden.
    http://www.zoochat.com/photo/old-seal-pools-26062.jpg
    Between the pools and the Rainforest Aviary, on the site of the old Penguin Pool (from back in the 70's) construction is underway for a new Cassowary Exhibit. The old pool was filled in a planted out years ago, the plants are now quite tall and shady and I think the enclosure will make a great cassowary exhibit.

    The Bull Elephant facility appears to be coming along nicely. The internal moats have all been filled in to make one large compound, and the perimeter moats have also been filled to increase the land area further. In fact the eastern end has been extended out beyond where the old moat was right up to the steps down to the Concert Lawns. He-man's pool has been filled in, and the tree that existed behind the pool is now in the enclosure (although I don't know how long it will last).
    http://www.zoochat.com/photo/new-elephant-enclosure-26048.jpg
    http://www.zoochat.com/photo/new-elephant-enclosure-26049.jpg
    The dead tree trunk that Chris Wiesnicki (or however it's spelt) went to great effort to install for He-man's enrichment remains. At the western end, near the new elephant house is a large pool that appears to be deep. Actually, there are two pools, separated by thick poles. The exterior of the House appears to be complete, and my zoom lens - looking through an open door - suggests inside is also close to completion.
    http://www.zoochat.com/photo/interior-new-elephant-house-26052.jpg

    Opposite the Elephant complex the two very old aviaries (with concrete rooves) have been demolished. Next to them, the penguin pool and seal theatre are also gone. What surprised me was that there was no visual barrier attempting to hide the holes in the ground. All the more surprising that such an eyesore would be visible during the school holiday/Xmas period. The Gorilla complex will eventually be extended into this are when the zoo has the funds.

    Mary Gibbon is back on her island, and she sounded very happy about it, swinging around so much I had trouble getting a pic of her, and hooting for all she was worth. Taronga just doesn't sound right without her calls echoing over the zoo.
    http://www.zoochat.com/photo/mary-26043.jpg
    http://www.zoochat.com/photo/mary-26045.jpg

    Speaking of gorillas, saw little Zuzu attempting to climb a rock, when his mother Frala came over, grabbed him, and dragged him back to where she was sitting on the wall. She's a bit of a grumblebum and a killjoy, and doesn't like him wandering away. I'm sure he can't wait until he can run off from her and do what he wants!
    http://www.zoochat.com/photo/gorilla-26000.jpg
    http://www.zoochat.com/photo/gorilla-26001.jpg
    http://www.zoochat.com/photo/gorillas-26003.jpg

    While on the subject of baby apes, also saw little Sune, the chimp, and mother Sasha.
    http://www.zoochat.com/photo/sune-26012.jpg
    http://www.zoochat.com/photo/sune-sasha-26013.jpg

    At the Binturong enclosure everybody was sleeping, but little Sari (15 weeks old) was visible sleeping her older brother Baru. She adores him, and vice-versa. Binturongs are so gorgeous when they are young!
    http://www.zoochat.com/photo/sari-15-weeks-old-26007.jpg
    http://www.zoochat.com/photo/baru-sari-26008.jpg

    Further down, the old Bear Canyon which has displayed Black Bears and Sun Bears in the past, has been recently renovated for Red Pandas. Some tall dead tree trunks are in the two exhibits which are so high that if the pandas are at the top, the people on the road above (next to the otters) will be eye-level with them. Signs are up (but still in bubble-wrap) so I guess the pandas will be moving in soon. It's a shame there aren't more mature trees in the enclosures, but sometimes you've got to work with what you've got. Maybe this is only a temporary enclosure until something better and more permanent is built (memories of a very tall pine tree behind Friendship Farm).

    The Lower Entrance and Giftshop has been completely renovated since I used to work there, and looks very nice. The underwater viewing of the seal pool was particularly nice as they had soft seats you could relax on while waiting for friends to finish shopping or come back from the loo. It's carpeted as well, so that dreadful echo is non-existent.

    Carpark: Still progressing, looks like it's going to be at least three levels. Still quite a way off being finished. As cost-recovery is a buzz-word at Taronga, I expect there will be an increase in the cost of parking when it's finished. The gardens in the bus turning circle outside the main entrance have been removed, as have most of the trees in the lower carpark (next to the entrance).

    The rest of the day was catching up with friends, or generally uneventful.

    If you've read through all this, well done! Hope I haven't bored you.

    :)

    Hix
     
  2. MARK

    MARK Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the review Hix and the photos
     
  3. zooman

    zooman Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Enjoyed your review HIx, also the photo links are a great asset to your review.
     
  4. Steve Robinson

    Steve Robinson Well-Known Member

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    That sure wasn't boring! Thanks for a great read.

    I'll let Mr Wisneski [that's how it's spelt!] know about his tree.
     
    Last edited: 26 Dec 2008
  5. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Fantastic review Hix! I love posting long reviews of zoos from my road trips, and I see that you are also a fan of comprehensive and informative reviews. Cheers for all of the Taronga news!
     
  6. Hix

    Hix Wildlife Enthusiast and Lover of Islands Premium Member

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    Is Chris working with you?

    Tell him Hickson says 'Hi!'.

    :)

    Hix
     
  7. Steve Robinson

    Steve Robinson Well-Known Member

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    Chris doesn't work for us but, you know the old saying ......"You can take the man out of the zoo but you can't take the zoo out of the man!". [Or something like that!]

    He was very pleased to be remembered and sent his best wishes back to you.

    PS: He was chuffed to learn that "his" tree is still standing. Thanks Hix.
     
  8. Coquinguy

    Coquinguy Well-Known Member

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    what is the story behind the bloody tree? im intrigued that a dead tree stump has generated such a story
     
  9. Hix

    Hix Wildlife Enthusiast and Lover of Islands Premium Member

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    Back in the '90's the enclosure was split up into two halves with Heman on one side and Burma on the other. Burma had a couple of trees and a truck tyre on a chain suspended between them, but Heman had nothing but his pool which he wasn't keen on going in. The keeper's were down at the exhibit several times a day to provide enrichment, but there was much of the day when we weren't there.

    Chris decided that Heman needed something more, and sourced a dead tree trunk from somewhere. After getting the go ahead from management Chris spent a lot of effort digging a hole through the concrete floor (and the concrete was quite thick) down about five or six feet, had the tree trunk put in and concreted in place and then had chains and a tyre attached to give Heman something to play with. It also gave us extra places to hide carrots and cubes after cleaning in the mornings.

    I thought Heman might put his head against it and push it over on his first day with it, but it lasted and gave him something to try and hide behind when we were hosing him.

    :)

    Hix
     
  10. kkkp

    kkkp Well-Known Member

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    Thank you Hix for a lovely not at all boring report from down-under christmas day.
    The pictures were amazing and like me you obviously enjoy all creatures great and small.
    I am of for some shut eye to get ready for my visit to Paignton Zoo in the morning.
    bye and thank you once again:)
    kkkp
     
  11. reduakari

    reduakari Well-Known Member

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    Not sure this is the right place for my comments, but since many Aussies are contributing to this thread I'll proceed. I visited Taronga for the first time late last year, and while there are many attractive and wonderful aspects to the zoo, I must say I was deeply disappointed by GSO. For $50 million, I expected to see a groundbreaking, world-class marine complex. Instead, it is a confusing and generally ugly series of pools and shade structures, with minimal attempts at naturalism that really don't work at all from a visitor's perspective. The underwater viewing area looking into the leopard seal pool is a weird attempt at "10,000 Leagues Under the Sea" with its strange metallic decoration; most of the pools are simple rectangular concrete basins with lumps of rockwork randomly applied to the edges; the plantings in the penguin and pelican exhibits are rather regimented and look like backyard plantings, not a habitat. The overwhelming sense is of concrete, and views of people on the other side of the tanks. It was obviously designed by architects who were not familiar with even the most basic principles of modern zoo design. Very underwhelming, especially after experiencing the Wollemi walk-through exhibit, which is both subtle and beautiful.

    The older outdoor marine mammal/penguin exhibits at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, New York Aquarium, Pt. Defiance Zoo/Aquarium, Auckland Zoo, Vancouver Aquarium, Bristol Zoo, Rotterdam Zoo--to name a few--are all much better than GSO. A real wasted opportunity. But then there's always that amazing harbour view....
     
  12. Hix

    Hix Wildlife Enthusiast and Lover of Islands Premium Member

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    Thanks for your views!

    Although GSO might not be as good as otherr facilties around the world, it is better than what we had. And although it cost $50 million, had it been built on flat ground I imagine it would have been much cheaper.

    Glad you liked the Wollemi aviary.

    :)

    Hix
     
  13. zooman

    zooman Well-Known Member Premium Member

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