Deputy Premier and Local Member for Dubbo Troy Grant will today announce the commencement of construction of the new Pridelands African Lion Adventure and safari tour at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.
The $9 million project will take visitors on a journey to Africa with an outlook offering views over the large 3.5 hectare open expanse where the lion pride will roam. The new exhibit provides a village setting with free ranging goats and birds and interprets how communities in Africa live with a top order predator.
The new exhibit will also feature a new lion safari experience that will take visitors inside the exhibit for a heart pumping 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 in a zoo-based conservation program.
“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,” said Deputy Premier and Local Member, Troy Grant.
“This project is the largest investment in an animal exhibit in the Zoo’s history and represents the first major change to the Zoo’s circuit since it opened in 1977,” said Mr Grant.
“The Pridelands African Lion adventure will be a real drawcard for the Zoo and is set to be another unique selling point following this significant investment,” said Taronga Western Plains Zoo Director, Matthew Fuller.
The Taronga Centenary Visitor Experience program, announced by the NSW Government in March 2015, includes Taronga and NSW Government co-funded projects which will transform visitor experiences and create vital animal habitats at both Taronga Western Plains and Taronga Zoos over the next 10 years.
“This is an exciting time for the Zoo with the construction of the Pridelands exhibit commencing and the Savannah Safari precinct progressing well despite the rain over the past couple of months,” said Mr Fuller.
“Over the next 10 years the Zoo will undergo a number of developments as part of the Centenary Visitor Experience Program including the giraffe exhibit, a new precinct at the half way point at the Zoo including an African waterhole with unique animal experiences, themed food and beverage offerings and recreation as well as Wildlife Hospital and further expansion of the elephant complex,” said Mr Fuller.
“The Pridelands African Lion adventure is due to be completed in late 2017 and will cap off the Zoo’s 40th birthday celebrations next year,” said Mr Fuller.
The African Lions will remain on display at the current exhibit near the Midway Kiosk before moving to their new exhibit late next year.