Cage free Western Sydney Zoo to bring visitors ‘face to face’ with animals

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The NSW Government has approved the lease of a 16.5-hectare area of land in Western Sydney Parklands for the development of state-of-the-art wildlife attraction. The consortium building Sydney Zoo, backed by Director Peter Ivany, Executive Chairman of the Ivany Investment Group and former Chief Executive of Hoyts Cinemas, is proposing a new type of cage-free animal attraction featuring elevated walkways offering opportunities to view lions, cheetahs, elephants, wildebeest, giraffes and rhinoceros. The $36 million attraction will also feature glassed observation areas for aquatic life including hippopotamus and crocodiles; Australian reptile and nocturnal animal houses; and native waterways with animals that include bull sharks.  Sydney Zoo Managing Director Jake Burgess said he hoped to attract Sydney families to the zoo which will have large open spaces, explaining “we’re going for a smaller number of large enclosures with large animals. “79% of our audience in the immediate vicinity is families. They have a choice, they can drive for an hour to get to Taronga or not participate.”

A KPMG report suggests the zoo will contribute around $45 million a year to the NSW economy and $3 million in extra tourist spending. Commenting on the attraction, NSW Environment Minister Mark Speakman stated “since Taronga Zoo was first established 100 years ago, Sydney’s population has absolutely ballooned. “We think now there is room another world-class zoo here in western Sydney.” The proposed zoo, adjacent to Bungarribee’s new picnic and playgrounds, will be a popular new attraction to Western Sydney, bringing family fun, recreation and ecological education to visitors, and adding to the already great assortment of recreational activities available in the Western Sydney Parklands. “The focus on native animals and Indigenous culture will be a highlight, and it will illustrate the dramatic and compelling stories of the local Darug people.” The new zoo, located next to the Great Western Highway, will, if approved, open in late 2017 and is expected to attract about 745,000 visitors a year.

NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said Western Sydney was emerging as a dynamic new centre for tourism and recreation investment with world class facilities right in the backyard of two million local residents.   Minister Ayres explained “the Sydney Zoo will be uniquely located to service the strong family and relatives market in Western Sydney and tap into the growing number of international tourists visiting the west of Sydney as they travel to and from the Blue Mountains.”  Around 50 full-time and 50 casual positions are expected to be created when the Zoo opens.  The Zoo is also in talks with Western Sydney University about potentially establishing a Centre of Excellence in Wildlife Conservation – a research facility housed on the Zoo site.  Images: Artists impressions of the proposed Sydney Zoo, and its plan.

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