The History of the Taronga Zoo

By Samuel Phineas Upham

The first zoo to open in New South Wales was built by the royal Zoological Society in 1884. The territory occupied Billy Goat swamp, in what is modern day Sydney Boys High School and Sydney Girls High School.

The concept was to bar-less, but the site chosen wasn’t big enough. They appealed to the government of New South Wales and received a land grant for 43 acres north of Sydney Harbor. It became known as Taronga Zoo, which translates in English to “beautiful view.”

A focus on science and conservation fueled expansion throughout the 1960s. The zoo opened a platypus exhibit, and guests could walk through a rainforest aviary to get a feel for the environment. Attractions that used to take kids on elephant rides were replaced with educational centers teaching people about seals and farm animals.

In 2000, the zoo began a master plan to develop a “Backyard Bush” section, and they managed to acquire five Asian elephants for guests to see. Despite some opposition by environmental groups, the attraction opened formally in 2006 and helps immerse visitors in the rainforest.

Taronga Zoo is the second zoo on the continent to breed the platypus, and in 2009 one of the Asian elephants gave birth to a male calf. A second elephant birth occurred in 2009, and was something of a small miracle. The calf was believed to be unconscious in the birth canal, and the zoo expected it to die. But it was born happy and healthy, taking the name Pathi Harn or “miracle.”

About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Samuel Phineas Upham website or Twitter.