This year’s Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival theme was all about Passion. Members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) community play an important role in efforts to conserve and protect our environment and Taronga wanted to say thank you for making the green in the Rainbow Flag shine. The Mardi Gras is a celebration of diversity including our staff, volunteers, guests and community.
For the first time, we held a stall at Fair Day which is the first big event of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival. It provides an opportunity for the LGBTQI community and friends to get together meet new people, share knowledge, passions and celebrate the diversity of different groups, while of course enjoying the outdoors and having fun!
We arrived in the Zoomobile at Victoria Park nice and early to make our stand look fabulous and wild. As fair day is a family event we had lots of family activities with Super Animal Trading card giveaways and colouring activity sheets for the kids as well as our competition to win a family Zoo Friends Membership. Our animals, of course, helped make our stall one of the most popular at the fair, with Robbie the Echidna being the crowd favourite.
The day allowed us to share our passion for animals and conservation as well as give us the opportunity to tell people about these amazing animals. We were also able to spread the word to a large group, including international travellers, about the plight of wildlife and how they can help by downloading the Wildlife Witness App.
The whole day was full of fun, sun, laughter and passion. Everyone had a great time and it was a fantastic start to the 2015 Mardi Gras Festival.
March 5th marked the 22nd annual zoo walk by the Sisters of the Order of Perpetual Indulgence - Sydney House. The walk is part of the Sisters’ festivities for the Mardi Gras Festival and is a chance for visitors travelling to Sydney for the festival, to see the zoo. The Sisters and their flock enjoyed a guided tour of the Zoo, animal encounters, chats with keepers and of course, they made sure to stop and see Taronga’s iconic Bird Show. The Sisters always end their visit with a passing around of the veil and taking a collection from the group for a donation to the Zoo. Staff and volunteers always enjoy their visits and we are very grateful for their ongoing support.
Of course, what would Mardi Gras be without the parade? A team of 30 Taronga staff and volunteers marched up Oxford Street, showing our passion for wildlife and igniting the enthusiasm in others. Two of our iconic Wild Rhinos featured on the float, decorated with the colours of the rainbow flag, highlighting the green stripe which represents nature.
Our Taronga team spent many evenings rehearsing our dance moves and preparing a mix of stunning green themed animal costumes and Taronga uniform with the addition of shimmering green glitter and lights to make our bold statement. With an array of green cougars, snakes, butterfly, Praying mantis, tiger, birds and more, the animal kingdom was well represented.
With the Wild Rhinos, sound system, lighting, decorations and Taronga ‘Be You, Be Wild’ banners, we made our way to start the 2km journey from Hyde Park to Moore Park with 10,000 fellow marchers in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators, media and TV broadcasters.
The energy, positivity and atmosphere of the parade were thrilling with the chants of the crowd cheering for Taronga. As we made our way up the hill, doing our moves, shouting Born to be Wild, engaging with the crowds and sharing our passion for wildlife, we thanked everyone for being on the journey with us. Within an hour, the parade came to an end and the team roared with excitement, “Let’s do that again!”
As Taronga continues on our mission for a shared future for wildlife and people, it’s important to celebrate diversity and engage all members of the community. Our participation in the Mardi Gras festival showed our organisation’s support of the LGBTQI community with a shared passion for wildlife. Thank you to everyone who volunteered and contributed to making this year’s Mardi Gras a success.Happy Mardi Gras and remember; Be You, Be Wild.
By Jason Clifford & Steve Williams
Check out the pictures in the album found in the links below!