April 3, 2008
Taronga Zoo's expansive Great Southern Oceans exhibit, opening to the public for today, provides an important and thrilling introduction to Australia's marine wildlife.
The new 1.2 hectare exhibit features Australian Sea Lions, Australian Fur Seals, New Zealand Fur Seals, Californian Sea Lions, Leopard Seals, Penguins and Pelicans live in unique displays, emulating their natural habitats and offering spectacular viewing for visitors.
Great Southern Oceans plays a vital part in marine conservation through public education about these precious creatures and their natural habitats, research, breeding and field conservation.
Visitors can come face-to-face with a swimming Seal as they peer through the glass windows of the Submarine Research Station into huge pools.
Little Penguins seem to ‘fly' through the water when seen through viewing windows at the bottom of their custom-designed pool where they swoop and glide playfully through the water.
Special climate change workshops have been developed for school groups to learn how they can make a difference to marine wildlife through everyday choices. Students learn about the impact of pollution on marine mammals and how to ensure their survival for future generations.
Children and adults alike can enjoy the magnificent natural behaviours and skills of Taronga's Seals in the new Seal Discovery Theatre, seating over 950 people in a shaded amphitheatre.
The seals and sea lions will surge through the water as they begin to show just how specialised the are for their aquatic life.
Great Southern Oceans is also home to the only Leopard Seals displayed in world zoos as they show their awesome power and intelligence.
Rescued after being marooned in Australia far from their Antarctic home, the animasl are now and part of vital international research on pack-ice seals and climate change by Taronga's internationally-recognised Australian Marine Mammal Research Centre (AMMRC).
AMMRC is based at Great Southern Oceans and its scientists have just returned from another season's work in Antarctica.
Visitors can enjoy interactive experiences with experienced marine biologists and learn about the most up-to-date marine conservation and climate change developments from AMMRC's work.
The Little Penguin breed-for-release program will have its base in the new Penguin Breeding Grounds in Great Southern Oceans. Penguins bred through the program are scheduled to be released into safe burrows in the colonies around Sydney Harbour again in 2009.
Mr Munro, the sociable and striking Fiordland Penguin is leading Great Southern Ocean's penguin breeding program for this endangered species from New Zealand's South Island.
He and two female companions, Milford and Chalky, have already proved popular with visitors who are intrigued with the birds' bushy yellow eyebrow feathers. The Fiordland breeding program, based in great Southern Oceans, is the only zoo-based one of its kind in the world.
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