Settle in for a 6km circuit around Taronga Western Plains Zoo, home to hundreds of animals from all over the world.
No trip to Dubbo is complete without a visit to the famous Taronga Western Plains Zoo. Just off the Newell Highway, on the outskirts of town, a 6km loop takes you past open-style enclosures housing hundreds of animals from all over the world. You can walk, cycle, drive a buggy or take your car around the loop, taking the exhibits and keeper talks at your own pace. You can rent bikes and golf-style buggies and they’re the recommended transportation for a fun family day at the zoo.
And fun is the word: little and big kids alike will be delighted by the range of critters, from the huge – giraffes, elephants and rhinos – to the small meerkats and spider monkeys. Fences are generally positioned in trenches or replaced by waterways – if the animals are non-swimmers – allowing visitors uninterrupted views and giving the sense that nothing is fenced in at all.
While general admission allows you to meander from one exhibit to the next at your leisure and includes keeper talks on a number of animals throughout the day, there are also a number of ‘encounters’ available at an extra cost. You can hand-feed a giraffe for just $7, a family-friendly activity that will delight the kiddies as a massive blue tongue licks a carrot out of their hands. And if you’ve ever wanted to get up close and personal with a Sumatran tiger, you have to try the Big Cat Encounter. You feed one of the Western Plains Zoo’s three tigers through the fence, while listening to an informative talk from one of the tiger keepers – they must have the best job at the park.
We were hoping to experience the meerkat encounter but due to some ‘social upheaval’, that program was temporarily suspended, although the daily talk went ahead and the busy little critters delighted all present with their chatty antics and fevered cricket hunt.
The zoo is run by the Taronga Conservation Society and animal welfare is at the heart of everything it does. It was constructed in the 1970s to answer the need for more living and breeding space for larger herd animals than was available at the Taronga Zoo site in Sydney. The zoo has now successful bred a number of animals, including black rhinos, Asian elephants, lions, hippos and more. At the time of our visit, there was a gorgeous baby black rhino called Dafari (meaning first born son) and a trio of playful lion cubs who spent their time hanging off Mum and Dad, though the adults seemed to prefer sunbaking to playing.
For a fun-filled day learning about some of the world’s most beautiful and exotic animals, don’t miss the Taronga Western Plains Zoo.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo is located on Obley Rd, Dubbo, NSW.