The Sydney Zoo animals total more than 2,500 and represent approximately 340 different species. In other words, there are plenty of curious creatures for visitors to admire. More officially known as the Taronga Zoo, the Sydney Zoo provides a variety of habitat settings for its numerous animals, and there is a satisfying collection of exhibits for visitors to enjoy. It's one of the great things to do in Sydney, particularly if you're traveling with kids. Visitors can also enjoy daily shows and encounters that allow them to learn more about the resident animals, and the early morning walking tours allow for a behind-the-scenes wildlife viewing experience that is hard to top.
Taronga Zoo Elephants
Elephants image: Calistemon, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 (wikipedia)
Elephants are among the Sydney Zoo animals that many visitors hope to see. These elephants are of the Asian elephant species, and they include some relatively new members. One of the younger members was born in 2009, thus making him the first elephant calf to be born in Australia. In total, there are three elephant calves, and they help to make the elephant exhibit wildly popular. During the daily elephant talks at the Taronga Zoo, zoo keepers go into depth about these fascinating creatures. The elephant talks typically begin at 11:35 am.
Taronga Zoo Lions
There are four lions on display at the Taronga Zoo. They are of the African lion species. Among the bunch are an adult male named Jambo and an adult female named Kuchani. These two lions gave birth to the other two resident lions–a male named Johari and a female named Asali. On some days, the Taronga Zoo offers animal encounters that allow guests to feed members of this lion family, so visitors might keep this in mind. As for some interesting facts about African lions, adult males typically weigh around 395 pounds, while adult females generally weigh around 275 pounds. Size tends to vary in relation to area and environment. For example, a large male that was killed near Mount Kenya actually weighed an impressive 600 pounds. In the wild, African lions have a life expectancy of ten to fourteen years. In captivity, on the other hand, they can live up to 30 years.
Taronga Zoo Tigers
Lions aren’t the only big cats that Taronga Zoo visitors can admire. Also on display are Sumatran tigers. The smallest of the tiger subspecies, these endangered cats from the island of Sumatra can nonetheless tip the scales at 265 pounds and reach up to eight feet in length if you measure from head to tail. The relatively small size in relation to other tigers has a lot to do with the native jungle habitat of the species. It allows them to move more quickly through the jungle terrain. Another thing that Sumatran tigers are known for are their unique coloring patterns. The stripes are more narrow than other species.
Taronga Zoo Snow Leopards
Snow Leopards image: James Alcock
Another cat species that Taronga Zoo visitors hope to see is the snow leopard. These spotted cats from the Himalayas and other mountainous areas in Asia prefer living at high altitude. As a result, they have very thick fur. In fact, snow leopards have the thickest fur of any cat species. Other things that help the species deal with cold weather are its stocky build and its small, rounded ears. As for other interesting features, snow leopards have the longest tails of any cat species. They also have wide paws with fur on the undersides. The width of the paw helps the cat walk on snow, while the fur adds warmth and comes in handy for gripping steep and unstable terrain.
Taronga Zoo Hippos
Hippos image: Rick Stevens
There are plenty of Sydney Zoo animals that you aren’t likely to find in your native homeland. Not many people share their general living areas with pygmy hippos, for example. Smaller than its cousin, which is simply known as the hippopotamus, the pygmy hippopotamus is native to the western Africa countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and the Ivory Coast. A rare animal, it remained relatively unknown outside of West Africa until the 1800's. The largest examples stand some 32 inches high at the shoulder and weigh around 600 pounds.