It’s a significant milestone for Australia’s first open range zoo, which was originally established as a breeding centre to complement sister zoo, Taronga in Sydney.
Today, Taronga Western Plains Zoo is renowned in its own right for animal care and conservation, research and education, and the provision of high quality, multi award-winning guest experiences.
“The Zoo has such a rich history,” Director Matthew Fuller said. “Not only has it welcomed, educated and inspired around 10 million guests since opening, throughout its history the Zoo has made a significant contribution to the conservation of many rare and endangered species, both native and exotic.”
In its early history the then ‘Western Plains Zoo’ established itself as a breeding centre for many of the iconic species that still call it home today, including the Giraffe, which has been featured on the Zoo’s logo for decades. In the early 1980s the Przewalski’s Horse breeding and conservation program was established, and a major milestone was achieved in 1995 when the Zoo transported seven Przewalski’s Horse born in Dubbo back to the wilds of Mongolia, where the species had become extinct. Today it is critically endangered in its homeland.
Another key species symbolic to Taronga Western Plains Zoo is the rhinoceros.
“The Zoo is perhaps best known for its conservation programs for rhinoceros,” Mr Fuller said. “Our commitment to rhinos was well and truly cemented in the early 1990s when we became a founding member of the International Rhinoceros Foundation and a part of the international breeding and conservation program for the critically endangered Southern Black Rhinoceros.”
The Zoo has contributed greatly towards securing a future for and increasing our understanding of rhinoceros, both via our successful breeding programs as well as world leading research conducted at the Zoo.
“Today, in addition to the work that occurs here on the ground with our three species of rhinoceros, Taronga Western Plains Zoo also supports conservation programs in the wild for rhinos in both Africa and Asia,” Mr Fuller said.
Closer to home, the Zoo has also played a significant role in critical conservation programs for native species, including Malleefowl and Tasmanian Devils, and is now home to a critical frozen zoo for the future preservation of the Great Barrier Reef.
“As regional NSW’s largest tourist attraction, Taronga Western Plains Zoo has made an enormous contribution to the inland NSW economy,” Mr Fuller said. “Today it is an employer of over 300 people, and has certainly come a long way since 1977’s starting workforce of 17.”
The Zoo established Australia’s first zoo based accommodation at Zoofari Lodge in the 1990s. Further investment in three overnight experiences between 2012 and 2015 have set the bar for the Zoo experience today – offering visitors immersive and inspiring encounters with wildlife, whilst underwriting key conservation programs.
Throughout its history the Zoo has been recognised many times with awards, including state and national tourism awards, most recently the 2016 Australian Tourism Award for Unique Accommodation announced late last week.
“We’re incredibly proud of the Zoo’s history,” Mr Fuller said. “We’ve created a lasting legacy that we will continue to build on. We will continue to do critically important work on the conservation front, and create exciting and innovative experiences for our guests.”
“This year will be another exciting one, with the impending birth of a Black Rhinoceros calf, completion of Lion Pridelands and planning a number of future redevelopments. The future is looking very bright.”
To mark the 40th milestone, African Elephant Cuddles will receive a birthday creation made by Zoo Keepers, with members of the Zoo team, volunteers and visitors watching on.
“Cuddles arrived at the Zoo prior to our official opening and has been a much loved resident ever since,” Mr Fuller said. “It is only fitting that she be part of our 40th birthday celebrations, along with members of our zoo team who will cut a special birthday cake.”
Taronga Western Plains Zoo is today announcing a new offer as part of the birthday celebrations.
“We’re inviting everyone to spend their birthday with us this year – for just $1,” Mr Fuller said.
Visitors can register online to access the special offer at www.taronga.org.au/dollar-birthday-twpz, download a voucher and present it along with proof of birth date on the day of the visit.
Find out more below about our 40th birthday celebrations.