In praise of Taronga Zoo

Baby Tasmanian devils at Taronga Zoo.The Prime Minister’s Sydney residence is Kirribilli House. It’s a top spot, with gardens rolling down to the north shore of the harbour. It’s somehow fitting, though, that a couple of giraffes and some Asian elephants have better views of the fireworks on New Year’s Eve than any PM. That’s how cool Taronga Zoo is.

Obviously, the idea of carting animals from their natural habitats and sticking them in a cage is not cool. That’s not how this zoo works.

Having been chased by a lion in Zimbabwe (well, I ran – if he’d actually chased, he may well have caught me), charged by a rhino in South Africa and mooned by a baboon in Botswana, I have occasionally been all for putting a barrier between me and them.

But the environment has to ensure the spirit of the wild animal is retained. Taronga is a conservation park where animal welfare is key. What’s more, it’s fun. From the moment you jump from ferry to cable car, it’s an exotic ride. It can be a long haul through the park and it’s not a flat track, so be prepared for some lugging if you have small kids.

There’s no value in me listing the animal options here. Just be aware that the lions and tigers know full well they are star attractions and therefore do nothing but lie around looking self-important.

If you’re further down the food chain, like a meerkat, you really put on a show.

Even further down the food chain, humans regularly perform at the zoo. As daggy as it seems, a night in the zoo under the stars as Bjorn Again (whose career has lasted about three times longer than Abba, whose music they play) and others burble away is memorable. You can even prove that you’re tougher than the newly soft Mike Tyson, who refused to get close to a koala. Wimp.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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