The celebrations began on New Year’s Eve with a special fireworks launch that included shapes of butterflies, octopuses, four-leaf clovers and a bouquet of flowers to celebrate our anniversary.
On 1st January we began our launch of the Dollar On Your Birthday program. Guests were able to visit the zoo during 2016 for one dollar on their birthday! This proved to be a popular program with over 11,000 tickets redeemed.
With the #igrewupwithtaronga campaign, we encouraged community participation and engagement with the launch of this social media campaign. Nearly 3,000 people took part in the campaign by submitting photos that celebrated their memories of the past 100 years at Taronga.
During May and June, Vivid Sydney included a Taronga Zoo installation for the first time. Visitors to Taronga were welcomed by a grand projection onto the facade of Taronga’s historic main entrance that set the scene for the colourful journey that followed. A collection of giant animal light sculptures, which were among the largest and most technologically advanced lanterns ever seen in Vivid Sydney, featured in a light walk within the Taronga Zoo grounds. These sculptures represented the 10 ‘legacy species’ which Taronga has committed to support over the next 10 years. More than 3,500 primary school students participated as well by constructing their own mini-lanterns for display during Vivid Sydney.
On 22nd September, 14 Indigenous young walkers departed Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo to begin a walk covering 490 kilometres. The walk, called ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’, was a unique mentoring walk for young indigenous people participating in the Burbangana and Walanmarra programs at both Zoos. Shoulder to Shoulder is highly symbolic for indigenous people as it recreates the walking of country; a deeply connective and spiritual experience that increases the understanding of and connection to country, its environment, animals, people and stories. The distance was covered in relays and concluded on 6th October at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, just in time for our birthday celebrations.
7th October marked the zoo’s actual 100th birthday. Anyone wishing to attend the special day had to enter ballot. More than 100,000 people entered to share in the birthday celebrations and the gates were opened to a lucky five thousand ticket holders. The momentous day included special animal experiences, extra seal and bird shows, historically costumed keepers and a ceremony with guests including the NSW Environment Minister, Mark Speakman and the Governor of NSW, General David Hurley.
Finally, the celebrations culminated with a grand parade –on Saturday 15th October. 10 giant animal light sculptures made their way down Macquarie Street to the Sydney Opera House followed by a cast of 700 school children and more than 450 Taronga Zoo staff and volunteers. Rove McManus hosted the celebrations on the steps of the Sydney Opera House after the parade came to an end. The 700 schoolchildren then performed a choreographed dance on the steps of the Opera House, while six star performers sang songs, including one written and composed exclusively for Taronga Zoo. The parade recreated the journey of Jessie the elephant and other animals from 100 years ago when they made their way from Moore Park, down Macquarie Street and then across the harbour to Mosman.
In 2016, Taronga launches its legacy for the future and for the wild. We’re dedicating the next 10 years to the conservation of 10 critical species. Five are native to Australia, like the Platypus and the Bilby, and five are on the brink of extinction in Sumatra – a biodiversity hotspot of critical natural importance right on Australia’s doorstep. In just a few short months into our commitments for these animals we have released both Honeyeaters and Corroboree Frogs into the wild through our breeding programs.
We believe that with your help, every species can not only survive but thrive.