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Google today announced that Taronga Zoo will be the first ‘off road’ location in Australia to be captured by Google Street View, via the new Street View Trike.

Street View was launched in Australia in August 2008, allowing internet users to take a virtual walk down nearly every public road in Australia using imagery collected by a car with a specially mounted camera on top.

Later this year, for the first time ever, internet users across the globe will be able to take a virtual tour of Taronga Zoo via Street View imagery collected with the Google Trike.

The Street View Trike, which is a modified bicycle towing a camera and GPS unit, made its inaugural outing at the Zoo today in preparation for its journey around the 28 hectare site later this week as it captures Taronga’s amazing wildlife and spectacular harbour views.

The Zoo's General Manager Marketing, Guest and Commercial Operations, Paul Davies, said: "Taronga Zoo is at the forefront of world Zoo endeavours and is leading the way in partnering with Google.

“The zoo is rapidly expanding its digital communications and this project augments that work. For the first time ever, anyone with internet access across the globe can see the amazing animals Taronga cares for and be inspired to help our conservation efforts to protect wildlife.”

Engineering Manager, Google Australia Raul Vera, said: “This is the first time Google has used the Street View Trike to collect images in Australia.”

“The Trike will allow us to capture off-the-beaten track and pedestrian-only locations across the country, taking Street View beyond road-accessed landmarks such as Sydney Harbour Bridge to places like Taronga Zoo.”

Google’s Street View cyclists have been specially recruited on the basis of ‘quads of steel’ which will be tested out on Taronga’s terrain as the 100 kilogram plus bicycle peddles past Taronga’s famous residents.

With Taronga the first place in Australia to be mapped later this week, Google is now asking the public to help decide the Trike's upcoming travel itinerary in Australia in an online poll. Google has developed four categories - City Life, Cultural Areas, Natural Wonders and Hidden Gems - and is asking the public to submit their ideas before Monday 8th February at www.google.com.au/trike.

Google will select a short list of the most original ideas from each category, before inviting the Australian public to cast their vote for the locations that the Trike will visit. Google only collects images from public roads, so will work closely with all other relevant organisations to collect images of privately-owned destinations.

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Taronga and Taronga Western Plains Zoos care for 4000 animals from over 350 species, provide conservation messages to over 1.5 million visitors and conservation education to over 100,000 school students annually. The Zoos also conduct a huge range of conservation research, breeding and in situ projects from Antarctica to Mongolia and throughout Australia and Asia, while providing wildlife health services to thousands of native animals each year.  

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