Taronga Western Plains Zoo in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, has been allocated AUS$7.5 million (US$5.7m) of public funds towards its ongoing visitor experience capital works programme.
The money is part of a wider AUS$50 million, 10-year partnership between the zoo and the NSW Government. The latest allocation of funding will help the zoo complete its Pridelands African Lion project.
This 3.5 hectare savannah will combine expansive views of the pride with close-up encounter areas, as well as key breeding facilities. Visitors will be able to experience a heart pumping lion encounter from the safety of a purpose-built vehicle. As part of the project, behind-the-scenes night yards and a second up-close exhibit will be constructed to allow keepers to display how they work closely with and care for the lions. Set in an African village, the exhibit will also feature free ranging goats and birds, interpreting how communities in Africa live with a top predator. The Pridelands African Lion adventure is due to be completed in late 2017, capping off the zoo’s 40th birthday celebrations.
Some of the fresh funding will be used to continue other projects such as changes to the giraffe and elephant enclosures. The zoo is also planning upgrades to its wildlife hospital and clinic to continue its animal care and rehabilitation programme. Tours through the zoo’s new African Savannah Safari have already begun.
“The NSW Government is committed to supporting regional tourism, which will not only attract more visitors to the Dubbo region but help to educate them about conservation and the environment,” says Deputy Premier, Troy Grant.
Two Taronga zoos undergoing transformation
The Taronga Centenary Visitor Experience programme, announced by the NSW Government in March 2015, includes co-funded projects which will transform visitor experiences and create vital animal habitats at both Taronga Western Plains Zoo and its sister facility Taronga Zoo in Sydney. The latter recently won approval for a resort hotel. The zoo is undergoing its own AUS$164.5 million revitalisation over the next decade.