Lions, Tigers and (Sun) Bears: A Family Visit to Taronga Zoo

If you want to introduce your children to creatures from all corners of the world without leaving the state, visit Taronga Zoo. It’s your ticket to a global journey with animals from all over the planet. From American Alligators to African elephants, Chinese Chinese three-striped box turtles to Bolivian Squirrel-monkey, there’s plenty to fascinate your family.

Taronga Zoo

A Family Visit to Taronga Zoo

We arrive at Taronga Zoo as it opens at 9:30am. (If you get there early, you’ll miss the crowds that arrive later in the morning). We start our visit at Reptile World and peer at the mighty Komodo Dragon. He doesn’t seem as enthusiastic to see us as we are to see him though. The reptile section is impressive and will wow reptile fans with its wide range of creatures. Half the fun is spotting the inhabitants in their habitats.

Komodo Dragon

A shy Komodo Dragon

Next it’s on to the giraffes who are owners of the best real estate in the whole zoo. With their long necks, they enjoy magnificent harbour views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. However, they are pretty blasé about the views and just munch on their breakfast.

Giraffe Taronga Zoo

My favourite animal

We’re initially disappointed when we get to the lions and tigers. The tiger is pacing back and forth in the distance and the lions are dozing in the sun.

Tiger Taronga Zoo

However, the lioness must feel our gaze upon her as her eyes suddenly snap open and she levels a steely gaze at us. Yikes! We’re glad there’s a glass panel between her and us.

Lioness Taronga Zoo

If looks could kill

A friendlier animal is the Sun Bear who comes close to us before clambering away.

Sun Bear Taronga Zoo

On the move

Next is on to the elephants where we have a close up view of their morning routine consisting of a scrub, shower and morning exercises. There’s groans and giggles from the kids when an elephant deposits a massive amount of poo.

Elephants Taronga Zoo

Just before morning exercises

Moving on, we visit the much talked about Lemur Forest Adventure complete with a brand new playground for kids. Expect to spend a while here!

Lemur Forest Adventure Taronga Zoo

The new Lemur Forest Adventure

In addition to seeing the lemurs, you’ll be amazed to see your children exhibit lemur behaviour as they play, climb, jump and explore this playground.

Lemur Forest Adventure Taronga Zoo

Lemur Central. Where all the cool lemurs hang out.

Tip, as you enter the exhibit, take the path to the right to go through the Forest Path and let kids play with interactive stations.

Lemur Forest Adventure Taronga Zoo Adventure Path

Take the forest path

It’s then on to the seal show. Although people started queuing 30 minutes in advance for the show, as we’re visiting on a weekday, it’s not as crowded. The area has a capacity of 1000 people so we’re able to arrive five minutes before the show starts and get a seat.

Seal Show Taronga Zoo

A close up view

Although much hyped, the Seal Show does not disappoint. It’s incredible what these seals can do such as waving to the audience, catching fish and balancing balls.

Seal Show Taronga Zoo

The seal makes it look easy to balance a ball on your nose

In addition to being amused by their antics, we also learn about seal behavior and how we can all look after the oceans.

Another show which you can’t miss is the Bird Show.  Watching these birds soar through the air overhead is incredible against a harbour backdrop. Sit close to the front if you want to experience birds flying directly over your head but as the keeper mentions, don’t make any sudden movements!

Bird Show Taronga Zoo

Spot the soaring bird

Our last exhibit of the day is the Kids Trail area which includes a Farm Playground.

Playground Taronga Zoo

Playground in the Kids Trail area

This playground also includes a little water area for toddlers to splash around so bring swimmers if it’s a warm day. We time our visit so we’re there for Farm Feed.

Feeding goat Taronga Zoo

Carrots for lunch

This involves the kids feeding goats, ducks, sheep and pigs.

Feeding ducks Taronga Zoo

Hungry ducks

To finish our visit, we make our way down to the Sky Safari station near the ferry terminal. There, we jump on the Sky Safari and cruise up hill for an easy ascent to the top Zoo exit. Along the way, we see more views of the harbour and an aerial view of the animals we’ve visited. As we pass through the exit gates, we’re sorry to leave but happy that we’ve seen an entire world of animals.

Tips for Visiting Taronga Zoo

Getting There:

You can either take the ferry to the Zoo from Circular Quay (12 minutes) or park in the carpark ($17 a day). For directions to the zoo, visit the Taronga Zoo website.

Buy tickets online to avoid queues. Tickets are $44 for adults and $22 for children. Kids under 4 are free. If you purchase tickets at Circular Quay, take advantage of combined zoo entry and ferry tickets which are $52.50 for adults and $26.20 for children 4 and over.

The Entertainment Book has 25% off admission for Taronga Zoo but you can only use this by buying tickets at the zoo. If you plan on visiting more than twice a year, think about becoming a Zoo Friend as it works out cheaper to buy a family pass and plus you get discounts on zoo purchases and parking.

Getting Around

Before your visit, identify which animals and shows are must-sees and plan accordingly. You can download a copy of the Zoo map on the website to plan a route.

If you arrive by ferry, take the Sky Safari to the top of the zoo and work your way down. It’s a lot easier on the legs. Bring a stroller that can fold for the Sky Safari.

If you need a stroller, you can hire one for $15 for the day from the Zoo Shop at the Top Plaza.

Wear comfortable shoes and pace yourself. There’s lots to see and the zoo is quite large so take frequent breaks especially with younger children. Seating and shade is plentiful so rest when you need to.

Make sure you pack hats and sunscreen. If you forget, you can buy them at the Zoo shop. Water stations are throughout the park so bring refillable water bottles.

If you have a smartphone or tablet, download the free Taronga Zoo Audio Tour or Monkey Mayhem kids app.

Eating

You can bring your own lunch and snacks to Taronga Zoo. I noticed many visitors who had brought food and were eating it in the picnic areas. We weren’t so organised but didn’t starve. There’s plenty of yummy eating options available such as the Piazza serving Italian food and Taronga Food Market serving Asian and western favourites. We ate at the Fish Stop Takeaway. In terms of price, the food is a bit more expensive but not unreasonably so.

Accommodation

To make a weekend of it, stay a night or two in Sydney.  There are a few hotels in Sydney which offer family-friendly amenities. Swissotel Sydney offers a very unique experience for kids and parents alike. The hotel provides a specially decorated room for kids aged 2 to 12 with age-appropriate kids linen, toys, DVDs and bathroom amenities.

Swissotel Sydney Kids Room

Kids Room. Photo supplied by Swissotel Sydney

More family-friendly features include a kids menu for room service, kids section in the breakfast buffet, baby cots and nanny service (additional charge).

Kids Bathroom. Photo supplied by Swissotel Sydney.

Kids Bathroom. Photo supplied by Swissotel Sydney.

Mercure Sydney Hotel on George Street offers a city break for families which includes Overnight accommodation for 2 adults and 2 children
- Full buffet breakfast for the family, complimentary car parking
and complimentary in-room movie. Vibe Hotel Sydney in Goulbourn Street in Sydney offers family friendly features such as complimentary kids pack which includes crayons, colouring in sheet and assorted puzzles, Kids menu at Curve Restaurant plus kids under ten years eat for free in the Curve Breakfast Buffet and roof top pool.

If you have a car and wish to be closer to the zoo, stay in Sydney’s North Shore. Rydges North Sydney have a Taronga Zoo package. This includes overnight accommodation in a family suite, entry to Taronga Zoo, full buffet breakfast and hotel car parking. Like its CBD counterpart, Vibe North Sydney also offers family friendly features such as complimentary kids pack which includes crayons, colouring in sheet and assorted puzzles, Kids menu at Curve Restaurant plus kids under ten years eat for free in the Curve Breakfast Buffet.

Thanks to Taronga Zoo for providing a family entry pass for this review.

6 Comments

  • Dianne says:

    Thank you The Mummy Project for another great article. Loved the information about Lemur Central (which I am sure my boys would enjoy), the links to all the timetables and that we can take our own food (if I was that organised).

    Kindest Regards
    Di

    • TMP says:

      Thank you Di,
      Hope you and your family have a wonderful visit to Taronga Zoo. It really is a fantastic family day out. My child is still talking about all the animals she saw especially the Seal show.

      Kind Regards,
      Reena

  • Krystal says:

    We’re fairly new to Newcastle and only just recently discussed going to Sydney to go specifically for Taronga Zoo. This post has been very helpful in planning our trip! Thanks!

    • TMP says:

      Hi Krystal,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m so pleased you found the article useful. Hope you have a great time at Taronga Zoo. And welcome to Newcastle! It’s a great place for families.

      Cheers, Reena

  • Kimberly says:

    We just got back from Sydney, with loads of help from this blog. We stayed at the Rocks and took the Ferry to Taronga Zoo using the Ferry/Admission tickets. We took the Sky -Walk to the top,of the Zoo as advised and worked our way down. Next time I will he’d your advice and pack a picnic as none of the food was food allergy friendly and my kids had to survive on fruit, but we still had a blast. We finished off the next day with a trip to the Hyde Park Barracks Cafe and the Australian Museum. All in all a great start to the School holidays. Thank you for such wonderful advice. You are helping me feel at home in my new home-away-from-from-home.

    • TMP says:

      Hi Kimberly,

      So glad that your visit to Taronga Zoo was a success and that you found my advice useful. I love being able to share my knowledge with other families.

      Thanks,
      Reena

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