Taronga Zoo celebrated its 100th birthday today, serving up surprises for its giraffes, elephants and more than 6000 guests to mark a century of bringing people and wildlife together.
The Centenary celebrations began at the giraffe exhibit, where Taronga’s tallest animals were treated to a special birthday breakfast before opening hours. Keepers decorated the exhibit with a giant number “100” made from leaves, giving the giraffes a chance to use their amazing 20-inch tongues to retrieve the tasty treats.
NSW Environment Minister, Mark Speakman later joined Taronga CEO Cameron Kerr at the Zoo’s historic entrance building to cut the ribbon and officially launch the birthday festivities, with a little help from Taronga’s rescued Fiordland Crested Penguin, Munro.
Mr Speakman said wildlife conservation had come a long way in the 100 years since Taronga Zoo first opened its gates in Mosman on 7 October, 1916 after moving from Moore Park.
“Over the past century, Taronga has transformed itself from a place of entertainment to a mature conservation hub that works well beyond traditional zoo boundaries to prevent the poaching and trafficking of wildlife, protect and regenerate critical habitat, and increase understanding of wildlife across the globe,” Mr Speakman said.
“I’d like to congratulate Taronga’s staff, supporters and the army of volunteers who continue to work so passionately and energetically to achieve the Zoo’s vision of a shared future for wildlife and people.”
Five thousand lucky supporters won free tickets to visit Taronga on the 100th birthday by entering a Birthday Ballot.
Guests were treated to a day of delights, including special animal experiences and presentations, lucky door prizes, performing artists, keepers in historic uniforms and a nearly two-metre-long birthday cake in the shape of Taronga’s famous entrance.
Taronga’s CEO, Cameron Kerr said the Centenary was a chance to celebrate the Zoo’s first 100 years and also launch a legacy for the future of wildlife conservation.
“In this pivotal 100th year, we are setting out to make a lasting and positive impact on the future of 10 vitally important species from Australia and Sumatra,” he said.
“From the magnificent Asian Elephant to the tiny Corroboree Frog, Taronga has committed to support these species for the next decade, and over this time effectively turn around their fate so they can thrive for another 100 years."
Taronga’s Asian Elephants also received a birthday surprise from Centenary Presenting Partner, ANZ, with keepers hanging up enrichment items in the form of piñatas filled with the elephants’ favourite foods.
ANZ Group Executive, Australia, Fred Ohlsson said: “Taronga Zoo is an extraordinary place, loved by so many people. Generations of Sydneysiders grew up with Taronga and for countless interstate and international visitors, Taronga is a special place they’ll remember forever. ANZ is proud to help Taronga celebrate its Centenary and continue our long history of supporting the community in NSW.”
Taronga’s Centenary celebrations will continue on Saturday, 15 October with the 100 Year Birthday Parade.
Beginning at 8pm at Sydney’s Hyde Park, the fabulous light parade will see 10 giant animal light sculptures make their way down Macquarie Street to the Sydney Opera House escorted by a cast of school children who will dance, sing and light up the streets for the wild.