The final box has been ticked for work to begin on a new world-class zoo in Blacktown.
The Planning Assessment Commission has approved the multi-million dollar Sydney Zoo on a 16.5 hectare site overlooking Bungarribee Park.
Work is due to start later this year, with the zoo due to be open in time for the 2018 summer holidays.
Unlike the nearby Featherdale Wildlife Park, Sydney Zoo will focus on foreign and exotic animals with 30 large animal exhibits.
Lions, rhinos, hippos, giraffes and cheetahs will be among the animals in the main ‘African grasslands’ section, while other sections include South-East Asian tropical, African highlands, and native Australian animals.
Sydney Zoo has also partnered with Aboriginal cultural organisation Muru Mittigar to help train and employ 13 full-time rangers as part of an Indigenous education experience.
The so-called “cage free” site will be accessible through safari-like enclosures and elevated boardwalks.
- Western Plains Zoo (Dubbo) – 300 hectares
- Australia Zoo – 40 hectares
- Taronga Zoo – 28 hectares
- Melbourne Zoo – 22 hectares
- Sydney Zoo – 16.5 hectares
- Featherdale Wildlife Park – 3 hectares
Minister for Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres, said Sydney Zoo “will offer an unparalleled tourism experience”.
“Sydney Zoo will set a new standard in visitor experience and have people coming back time and time again,” Mr Ayres said.
“Set to be Australia’s most technologically advanced and innovative zoo in Australia, it will also feature an incredible integrated Aboriginal and natural heritage program, focusing on the local Darug people of western Sydney.”
Mr Ayres said the project would create 160 full-time jobs during construction and 120 full-time jobs during operation.
Minister for the Environment, Gabrielle Upton, said the zoo will bring more people to Western Sydney Parklands, which has proved “immensely popular” since the $15 million Bungarribee Park facelift earlier this year.
“Western Sydney Parklands is the largest urban park in Australia and on the backdoor of more than two million residents.
“It is the natural home for a world-class exotic and native animal conservation and exhibition facility, and important education resources like the Educational Amphitheatre, Aquarium, Insectarium and Reptile and Nocturnal House.”