Many of us love a good day spent at a beautiful zoo with friends and family or even a solo trip! Zoos play a significant role in the survival of many species of animals. Conservation is crucial for the lives of many different animals. Experts can step in and help remove animals from the endangered species list and, in turn, save them from extinction. Researching other species and reintroducing them to the wild will help ensure these creatures survive. In New South Wales, you’re sure to find a zoo nearly everywhere you turn! Here are the best zoos you can visit in and around NSW.
1. Taronga Zoo Sydney
Located on the shores of Sydney Harbour, Taronga Zoo is a large outdoor zoo that draws in plenty of customers. There are over 4,000 animals from over 350 species, including Australian native wildlife and rare and endangered exotic animals. There are 69 acres of land at this zoo for you to enjoy! Taronga Zoo Sydney was officially opened on October 7, 1916, and has been growing ever since! Many tourists come here to see the majestic giraffes! The newest immersive Australian Habitat experience, called Nura Diya Australia, has recently opened. Twenty-three different iconic species can be viewed among four unique landscapes.
2. Taronga Western Plains Zoo
Taronga is back on the list again with their Western Plains version located in Dubbo, NSW! It’s home to hundreds of animals and a 3-mile-long circuit on which you can walk, drive, or bike. Commonly known as Dubbo Zoo, it opened to the public on February 28, 1977. It’s the first zoo to explore the concept of an “open range” zoo. The animals are kept in moats with concealed fences! It’s much larger than the Sydney location at over 700 acres! The Sumatran Tigers are a famous sight, and the zoo works hard to help preserve this endangered species.
3. Symbio Wildlife Park
Symbio Wildlife Park, which is family-owned and operated, first opened its doors in 1975. Thanks to its outrageously fun splash park, it’s a popular spot for families. In 2021, the park made news for establishing a specialty-built captive-breeding facility for native, vulnerable, and endangered Bellinger River snapping turtles. It’s on the smaller side at only 16 acres but still boasts some of the most amazing animals and gardens. Come here to see cheetahs, koalas, monkeys, and more! Recently, the park opened its arms to 10 little penguins in a resort-like enclosure!
4. Sydney Zoo
The Sydney Zoo boasts over 30 massive exhibits to explore. This zoo is one of the youngest on the list, having only opened on December 7, 2019. It’s home to over 4,000 animals and Australia’s largest reptile and nocturnal house. It occupies a 40-acre site in the heart of Western Sydney! The Sydney Zoo has Sydney’s only rhino named Tino, a 7-year-old white rhinoceros. Tino arrived at the zoo from New Zealand to participate in a breeding program to conserve the species. After a long three-year wait, the zoo has finally brought back its popular Koala Breakfast program. A yummy breakfast on the revamped Koala Rooftop follows a guided tour!
5. SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium
Formerly known as Sydney Aquarium, the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium hosts around 13,000 marine creatures from over 700 species! The 14 themed zones and floating oceanarium draw big crowds, most of whom are tourists. It’s been open for over 30 years and has continued to innovate and expand. The aquarium made news when they shared a viral video of their penguins “proposing” with pebbles on TikTok! What they’re most known for, though, is their large variety of sharks and rays. Don’t forget to check out their brand-new Great Barrier Reef experience!
6. Australian Reptile Park
Are you seeking a more interactive and hands-on experience at your next zoo outing? The Australian Reptile Park might be right for you! This park started with the dream of naturalist Eric Worrell and opened in 1958. It’s home to over 2,000 different animals, such as kangaroos, dingoes, and quokkas. Staff will even let you hold a huge python snake! Make sure to catch one of their exciting wildlife shows, where you can learn all about the zoo’s inhabitants. The free-range kangaroo area allows visitors to hand-feed kangaroos, too. This year, the park saw the birth of its 100th koala joey.
7. Billabong Zoo Koala & Wildlife Park
This 10-acre wildlife park opened in 1986 and has been going strong. The main goal of Billabong Zoo Koala & Wildlife Park is and remains to be a koala breeding center. Beyond that, the park boasts over 80 species of Australian and exotic animals. You can even pet and feed some of them, too. They offer the ability to “adopt” a koala, the contribution of which goes straight to their breeding program. Get up close and personal with the Cheetah brothers, Warrior and Vongani, by safely tong-feeding them!
8. Hunter Valley Wildlife Park
This park opened in 2006 and was formerly known as Hunter Valley Zoo. This 10-acre zoo is a privately run park that receives most of its support from local families and businesses. They recently started a new program called Wildlife Sunrise Breakfasts. Beginning at 8 AM, you get a guided tour and breakfast overlooking Lemur Island! Do you want a private wildlife encounter? Get up close and personal with some of your favorite creatures, such as lemurs, meerkats, and giraffes. One popular attraction is their lion encounter, where you can hand-feed them through their cage!
9. Featherdale Sydney Wildlife Park
We have another fantastic park on the list that is famous for its up close and personal visits with wildlife! The Featherdale Sydney Wildlife Park focuses solely on native animals and has the most extensive collection of koalas in NSW. This zoo is home to over 2,000 Australian mammals, birds, and reptiles! You can find three open-space enclosures where you can check out some iconic Australian animals, like wallabies and kangaroos. You can even feed them, too! Their tireless work to aid in conservation efforts through partnerships with universities to study and research their wildlife is inspiring.
10. Oakvale Wildlife Park
Oakvale Wildlife Park is a family-owned park that locals love. After opening in 1979, the Sansom family has dedicated their lives to conservation and education efforts through their Save the Wildlife campaign. Twenty-five acres of open, natural bushland has 110 different species of animals, including incredible species from eastern Australia. Their domestic farm animals and Splash Bay Water Park are also popular with kids. They offer hands-on educational opportunities for local teachers and groups of 30+ students.
Summary of the 10 Best Zoos in and Around New South Wales
|Taronga Zoo Sydney
|Taronga Western Plains Zoo
|Symbio Wildlife Park
|SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium
|Australian Reptile Park
|Billabong Zoo Koala & Wildlife Park
|Hunter Valley Wildlife Park
|Featherdale Sydney Wildlife Park
|Oakvale Wildlife Park
The photo featured at the top of this post is © PomInOz/iStock via Getty Images
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