Taronga Zoo Sydney

Taronga Zoo Sydney… 350 species of animals from around the world live in natural settings in a first-class spot overlooking Sydney Harbour, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.  

Giraffe Taronga Zoo

Taronga Zoo Sydney THE zoo with a view.

I also like that Taronga Zoo Sydney focusses on conservation and education. They play an important role in the recovery of endangered animals. They breed rare and endangered species… the New Zealand kiwi, chimpanzee, red panda, Sumatran tiger, Black Rhinoceros…

If you visit Taronga Zoo Sydney, plan a whole day. There’s lots to see and do…

Animal Encounters

For $25 you can stand right next to a koala, feed a giraffe, or meet another animal up close.

Note: you won’t be able to cuddle a koala because of NSW regulations but you’ll walk inside their enclosure and get very close.

The koala encounter is very popular and sells out quickly, so if you want to secure a spot, arrive as early as possible and purchase a ticket from the Animal Encounter Desk at the top shop. It opens at 9 am.

If you’d like to see kangaroos up close, you can walk inside the kangaroos’ enclosure. It’s free. They’ll jump right around you.

Here were our family’s highlights at Taronga Zoo Sydney during our last visit…


Seal Show

Australian Sea-Lions, Californian Sea-Lions and New-Zealand Fur Seals do a bunch of tricks: they wave their flippers, go where they’re instructed to, dive in the pool on command, walk on their flippers, nod their heads, smile, climb stairs, hold a ball on their nose…

The staff explains the behaviours and physiology of seals while the seals perform.

They talk about the plight of the seals in the wild – seals find it harder and harder to catch food because of over-fishing and declining food in the ocean.

The show’s message is loud and clear…

To help seals find enough food (which would be fish) and survive in the wild, buy certified sustainable seafood with this MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) label...

It means these fisheries ensure that the fish stock is kept at sustainable levels.

If you’re hungry, the View Restaurant at Taronga Zoo Sydney is the first Australian MSC certified cafe.

Tips: Sit away from the first couple of rows if you want to stay dry. Also, arrive several minutes before the start of the show to get a seat.

Seal show Taronga Zoo

The View

Taronga Zoo Sydney is set on a hill that faces Sydney Harbour, the city, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.

So wherever you stand you get an impressive background view. It’s like looking at animals in their natural settings with a gigantic poster of Sydney in the background.

And when the sky is blue it’s the ultimate poster…

It’s hard to take a bad photo of a giraffe against the city’s skyline and a blue sky…

View of Sydney from Taronga Zoo
View of Sydney from Taronga Zoo

Western Lowland Gorilla

I had seen large animals before at other zoos like giraffes, elephants and the like, but a gorilla… not so much.

That fellow just peacefully stood there for ages eating its food while a bunch of people stared at it. 

These African gorillas are a critically endangered species. A few things are causing their decline. One of the things is illegal mining of Coltan in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Coltan is a metallic ore used by the tech industry to make circuit boards in mobile phones and other electronic devices. So there’s a high demand for it and it pays well.

To mine the Coltan, they clear forests – and the gorillas’ food. Plus illegal mining of Coltan finances the civil war and aggravates poverty. So people are forced to hunt gorillas for the meat.

Electronic companies are just starting to refuse Coltan from Africa. But the mobile phone you have in your hand right now probably contains the thing.

So one day if you see Gorilla Safe signs on mobile phones, you’ll know the Coltan used to make it didn’t originate from Congo.

What does Taronga Zoo Sydney do about it? They help you recycle your old mobile phone. Grab a postage-paid recycling bag from the Zoo’s entrance. 

Western Lowland Gorilla Taronga Zoo

Sky Safari

You walk over 28 hectares of hilly ground all day long. So after a while the Sky Safari is very welcome on the legs. When you get to the bottom of the Zoo, take the Sky Safari back to the top.

If you’re lucky and there’s not too many people, you may be able to do a round trip. It’s fun for the kids and the view is fabulous…

View from Sky Safari Taronga Zoo
View of Sydney from the Sky Safari at Taronga Zoo
Sky Safari Taronga Zoo

Getting Lost in the Zoo…

…and hoping you had a GPS. At least if you’re like me and are somehow unable to read printed maps.

The Zoo site is set with pathways throughout. It’s like a maze and you’ll need a map, so remember to pick one up at the Information Desk at the Zoo entrance. Or print this one up.

But “the maze” is fun and stimulating because you feel you’re in a completely new spot all day long.

map Taronga Zoo

Pygmy Hippo

I had never seen a Pygmy Hippo in a zoo before. I enjoyed looking at them.

Pygmy Hippos are smaller than hippopotamus. They live in the swamps and dense forests of West Africa. People hunt for their meat and their habitat is speedily being destroyed. Fewer than 3000 are left in the wild so they’re considered an endangered species.

So of course Taronga Zoo Sydney is involved in breeding them. Two babies were born so far.

Every birth in a zoo is important because they may well disappear in the wild soon.

Pygmy Hippo Taronga Zoo


Are you going to Taronga Zoo Sydney with kids?

The two state of the art playgrounds are impressive.

The Lemur Forest Adventure, located right next to lemurs, has a tunnel, slide, bridge and a climbing tower.

The Farm Playground has tunnels, slides, bridges and a water play area.

Lemur Forest Adventure playground taronga zoo
Farm Playground  Taronga Zoo

Animals I didn’t Know Existed

I enjoyed seeing species I never knew existed. Have you ever heard of a bongo, fishing cat or mata-mata?

Bongo Taronga Zoo
Mata-mata Taronga Zoo

Visitor Information

Taronga Zoo Sydney Fees at the Gate

Adults $46

Child (4-15 years) $26  (children below 4 years: free)

Concession $36

Family Pass (2 adults, 2 children) $129.60

Taronga Zoo Sydney Fees Online

When you purchase your admission online, you save 10% - 20% of the admission fee. For example, you save $14 for a family of four. Here are the fees …

Adults $41.40

Child (4-15 years) $24.40  (children under 4 years are free)

Concession $32.40

Family Pass (2 adults, 2 children) $115.20

 The admission fee includes the Sky Safari (gondola).

Visit Taronga Zoo Sydney for $1 at Your Birthday

Yes that's right. If it's your birthday you pay only $1. But you need to register here first.

You’ll receive a voucher by email. Take it to the Zoo or show it to them on your phone if it’s clearly legible. Also, take an original or officially certified copy of either a birth certificate, a driver's license, a state issued proof of age card or a passport.

Taronga Zoo Sydney Opening Hours

9.30 am – 4.30 pm (May to Aug)

9.30 am – 5.00 pm (Sept to Apr)

9.30 am – 4.00 pm (New Years Eve)

Closed 7th October 2016.

Other Information you may find useful…

  • You can get a locker to store your stuff.
  • The site is wheelchair accessible. You can hire a wheelchair by calling 02 9969 2777 or directly from the Animal Encounters store (map reference 19E). The Sky Safari can take wheelchairs below a width of 610mm. If you’re coming by ferry, you can access the Sky Safari from the street in a lift.
  • Take sunscreen, hats (you can buy hats and sunscreen from the Zoo Shop) and water (you can refill bottles from water bubblers throughout the site).
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes.
  • You can hire a stroller for $15 from the Zoo Shop.
  • Pick up a map from the information desk before you start your visit.
  • Plan a whole day for your visit. With children, you might want to settle for 4-5 hours. The kids and I walked for about four hours. We saw most animals and attractions, but not everything. But it was more than enough walking for the kids.
  • The animals you’ll see at the zoo is too long to list, but here are animals you WON’T see: rhinos, lions and tigers (though tigers should be there in 2017).


You have so many options for places to stay in Sydney! The best area to stay in my opinion is across Sydney Harbour close to Circular Quay (where the ferry to the Zoo departs at regular intervals). You’ll be right in the heart of Sydney, in or close to The Rocks.

This link sends you to booking.com. I have preset the search so that it returns hotels near Circular Quay. Just enter your dates in the search box.

But I think the ultimate experience would be to stay at Roar and Snore in the zoo itself.

Sleep in luxury tents (they have electricity) with clear views of the city. Plus you get dinner, breakfast and nibbles, a night safari and a walk through the zoo. Book through ticketek.com.au or 132 849.

Getting There From Circular Quay

Purchase a combined Taronga Zoo Sydney admission & return ferry ticket at the ticket booth at Wharf 2 in Circular Quay if you haven’t already purchased your Zoo admission online. The combined admission and ferry tickets give 10% discount.

The ferry departs every 20 minutes or so and the trip takes 12 minutes.

The ferry arrives at the bottom of the Zoo. The Zoo admission ticket allows you to travel on the sky safari (gondola) from the bottom to the top of the zoo where you’ll start your visit.


› Taronga Zoo

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