On 28 March 2018, Minister for the Environment, the Hon Gabrielle Upton MP welcomed the opening of Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s new Lion Pride Lands precinct, featuring an immersive safari adventure for guests to get up close to the Dubbo Zoo’s Lion pride.
A $9 million joint investment between the NSW Government and Taronga Conservation Society Australia, the 3.8 hectare precinct is the largest investment in an animal exhibit in the Zoo’s history, and represents the first major change to the Zoo circuit since its opening in 1977.
Minister Upton today said that the new precinct, which consists of two Lion exhibits and walkthrough goat kraals, will help enhance understanding of Lions and also living with Lions, in addition to driving visitation to the Dubbo region.
“Lion Pride Lands at Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo sets the bar for world-class guest experiences,” Minister Upton said.
“In addition to offering space and an unrivalled environment for the Lions, the precinct offers up-close viewing from a replica African Maasai village, home to a herd of goats, as well as an immersive drive-through experience in Pride Lands Patrol. These experiences will inspire the Zoo’s guests to connect with Lions, to understand what it’s like to live in close proximity to Lions and to understand their plight in the wild.”
“With a history spanning four decades and a record for breeding conservation and guest experience excellence, Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo is the most visited zoo in regional NSW. The investment in Lion Pride Lands from the NSW Government will reinforce the importance of tourism in regional NSW, and help draw more people to this region, who are eager to experience everything the central west has to offer,” said the Minister.
Taronga Conservation Society Australia Chief Executive and Director Cameron Kerr said that with as few as 20,000 Lions remaining in the wild, to have a pride of eight was a privilege.
“Big cats such as Lions represent everything that is powerful about nature. It’s a tragedy to see Lions experience a population decline of 43 per cent in the last 21 years due to their range and habitat becoming increasingly fragmented. This is only made worse by conflict and tensions between traditional farming and carnivores such as Lions, and the threat of poaching,” said Mr Kerr.
“Through the journey of this precinct, guests can see the power of Lions as an apex predator and better understand the relationship between humans and Lions in the wild. Guests can also understand how Taronga is working with partners such as the Northern Rangelands Trust to make a real difference for wildlife and people in African communities.”
Lion Pride Lands will be open every day from Easter onwards, and entry is included in the cost of admission. The Pride Lands Patrol safari experience costs in addition to zoo admission. For further information please visit taronga.org.au/lionpridelands.