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Established in 1862, this compact zoo is the oldest in Australia and the third oldest in the world. It remains one of the city’s most popular attractions and continues to innovate, becoming the world's first carbon-neutral zoo. Set in prettily landscaped gardens, the enclosures aim to simulate the animals’ natural habitats and give them the option to hide if they want to (the gorillas and tigers are particularly good at playing hard to get).
There’s a large collection of native animals in natural bush settings, a platypus aquarium, fur seals, plenty of reptiles and an entire faux–Southeast Asian jungle village built around the elephant enclosures. In some cases walkways pass through the enclosures: you can stroll through some of the aviaries and enter a tropical hothouse filled with colourful butterflies. See if you can pass through Lemur Island without an internal soundtrack of 'I like to move it, move it' turning over in your mind.
Running from late January to early March, the yearly Zoo Twilights feature performances by big names and indie talent. Past years included The Presets, Hanson and Rufus Wainwright. From September to May Roar ‘n’ Snore (adult/child from $205/150) allows you to camp at the zoo and join the keepers on their morning feeding rounds.