In most cities around the world, there is one zoo to visit, making your choice incredibly easy. But in Sydney, there are three zoos (plus several additional wildlife parks and aquariums), which makes the decision a whole lot harder.
In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about the wildlife parks and zoos in Sydney, including what animals you can expect to see and any special experiences that are offered. By comparing each of the zoos in Sydney, you can choose the one that’s best suited to you and your family.
With its stunning setting overlooking Sydney Harbour, Taronga Zoo has been entertaining animal lovers for more than 100 years. It features an extensive collection of native Australian fauna, plus the largest range of exotic animals in Sydney, making it the place to head if you want an all-day experience.
It all begins with a spectacular cable car ride on the Sky Safari, which offers a bird’s eye view across many of the zoo’s animal enclosures. You can then explore along one of the pram-friendly themed trails, such as the Australian Walkabout, the Rainforest Trail (home to Asian elephants) and the Tiger Trek with its resident Sumatran tigers. There’s also a dedicated Kids Trail that leads to the Farmyard Nursery where they can get hands-on with lambs, rabbits and pigs.
Taronga Zoo offers a whole host of animal encounters and special experiences that are designed for both young kids (Junior Keepers) and teenagers (Cadet Keepers). In addition, there is the opportunity for adults to become a Keeper for a Day and get a behind the scenes look at this iconic Sydney zoo.
Also not to miss is the free-flight bird show that takes place daily and sees Andean condors soaring high above the harbour. The Seals for the Wild show is also incredibly popular and displays the talents of Australian sea lions, Californian sea lions and New Zealand fur seals.
Tickets to Taronga Zoo cost $26.10 for kids aged 3 to 15 years and $44.10 for adults while family passes (2 adults and 2 kids) are $124.80.
Taronga Zoo is just a short ferry ride across the harbour from Circular Quay or you can ride the Sydney Harbour Eco Hopper bus to the entrance.
Sydney Zoo is a relatively new wildlife attraction that sprawls across 16 hectares of the Western Sydney Parklands in Bungarribee. It’s unique in that it combines both a zoo and an aquarium and bills itself as “Australia’s most advanced zoo”. This is due to the technology and innovations that have been implemented for not only visitor engagement (pram accessibility is excellent!) but also animal welfare.
At Sydney Zoo, you’ll encounter a menagerie of species from not only Australia but also Africa and Asia, with orangutans, Sumatran tigers and African lions among the highlights. It’s also home to Australia’s largest reptile and nocturnal house where you can observe the after-dark antics of native species.
Sydney Zoo is a standout thanks to its impressive collection of primates, with baboons, spider monkeys and capuchins all calling the park “home”. The aquarium features big drawcard species such as bull sharks, little penguins and saltwater crocodiles, as well as a variety of freshwater fish like Murray cod and barramundi.
Animal encounters are available with meerkats, giraffes and capybaras while animal-loving kids can opt to become a Mini Zookeeper for the day. But a standout of the Sydney Zoo is the Bungarribee Dreaming, an Aboriginal-led experience that invites you to share in ancient knowledge relating to the significance of native wildlife to Indigenous culture.
Tickets to Sydney Zoo cost $20 for kids aged 3 to 15 years and $40 for adults. A family pass (2 adults and 2 children) is $120.
Sydney Zoo is around 35 minutes’ drive from the city centre and can be accessed by train to Blacktown Station, followed by a ride on the number 723 or 729 bus.
Located on the waterfront at Darling Harbour, this small but impressive zoo is ideal for small children in prams or those with limited mobility due to its compact size and design. It is also a great option on wet days (as most of the exhibits are undercover) and perfect for exploring with international visitors thanks to its focus on native fauna.
WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo is designed with a one-way trail that leads past exhibits where kangaroos, koalas, wombats and saltwater crocodiles are on display. It’s also home to Tasmanian devils, numbats and goannas, plus birdlife that includes emerald doves, princess parrots and Wonga pigeons.
You can coincide your visit with one of the keeper talks to dive a little deeper into some of the resident species or relax with a coffee on the Koala Rooftop, surrounded by adorable koalas.
Tickets cost $33 for kids aged 3 to 15 years and $46 for adults or you can opt for a two-attraction pass if you also plan on visiting SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium ($58 for adults and $40 for kids).
WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo is a short walk from the Town Hall and Wynyard stations or can be accessed by public ferry services from Circular Quay to Darling Harbour.
With its focus on marine life, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium at Darling Harbour is a “must” for water-loving families and the next best thing to snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef. It’s located next door to WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo and combined entrance tickets offer a significant discount.
SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium exhibits more than 700 species representing all of Australia’s water habitats, such as tropical reef fish, little penguins and dugongs. You can encounter grey nurse sharks and stingrays in Shark Valley, get hands-on in the Discovery Rockpool and learn about local marine life in the Sydney Harbour exhibit. If you’re feeling brave, you can even dive cage-free with the sharks or meet king and gentoo penguins in their icy exhibit.
One of the great things about WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo and SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium is their easy access to the dining establishments of Darling Harbour. After your visit, you can take your pick of places to eat, many of which come complete with waterfront views.
Tickets cost $35 for kids aged 3 to 15 years and $49 for adults or you can opt for a two-attraction pass if you also plan on visiting WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo ($58 for adults and $40 for kids).
SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium is a short walk from the Town Hall and Wynyard stations or can be accessed by public ferry services from Circular Quay to Darling Harbour.
Located in Sydney’s southwest, Featherdale Wildlife Park boasts one of the world’s largest collections of native Australian fauna, so it’s one of the best zoos in Sydney to visit if you’ve got international visitors along for the ride. Set across more than three hectares, it features spacious enclosures where you can hand-feed kangaroos, observe adorable quokkas and see waddling wombats.
Featherdale also cares for around 1,700 native birds and their sulphur-crested cockatoo flight demonstrations are not to be missed. Other highlights include the opportunity to feed their 2.6-metre saltwater crocodile “Max” and assist with keeper maintenance in the little penguin enclosure.
Free with park admission is the chance to meet and interact with their resident koalas, although you might want to splurge with the Koala Kindy experience. If you’ve always wanted to get on board with the quokka selfie craze (but can’t make it to Rottnest Island), you can do exactly that at Featherdale!
Tickets to Featherdale Wildlife Park cost $22 for kids aged 3 to 15 years and $35 for adults. A family pass (2 adults and 2 children) costs $105.
Featherdale Wildlife Park is around 45 minutes’ drive from Sydney or can be reached along the North Shore and Western Line to Blacktown Station. From here, take the number 729 bus for the 10-minute ride to the park gates.
Helensburgh’s Symbio Wildlife Park sets itself apart thanks to a huge new splash park and an adventure playground, which make it incredibly popular with families based in Sydney’s south. It’s also home to an impressive collection of Australian native wildlife species that include koalas and eastern grey kangaroos, plus exotic animals such as cheetahs, red pandas and ring-tailed monkeys.
Whether you want to learn all there is to know about dingoes, have your photo taken with a meerkat or be a keeper for the day, you can do it all at Symbio Wildlife Park. If that wasn’t enough, you can also feed and interact with adorable goats, lambs and guinea pigs in the farmyard area and attend engaging keeper talks.
On hot, summer days, the kids can cool off beneath the massive dump bucket in the splash park before settling in for a picnic on the large grassy lawns. There are also two undercover shelters if the weather has other plans, plus an onsite kiosk where you can grab drinks and snacks.
Tickets cost $25 for kids aged 3 to 15 years and $39 for adults. A family pass (2 adults and 2 children) is $120.
Symbio Wildlife Park can be accessed by train on the South Coast/Illawarra Line to Helensburgh Station, followed by a short ride on bus route number 15 to the park entrance.
This privately run wildlife park in West Pennant Hills was originally opened in the 1930s by Noel Burnet, who was concerned about the large number of koalas being hunted for the fur trade. He spent much of his life dedicated to preserving these iconic creatures, which face new threats to their survival in the form of land clearance for human settlements, agriculture and mining.
The Koala Park Sanctuary is designed as a walk-through wildlife park and allows you to get up close to not only koalas but also kangaroos, emus, dingoes and wombats. It also provides refuge for a large collection of native birds, plus little penguins and peacocks displaying their brilliant colours.
Keeper-led talks are held throughout the day and there’s a farmyard area where kids can interact with friendly goats. The Koala Park Sanctuary also runs a koala hospital where injured wildlife are nursed back to health and visitors are invited to get a sneak peek behind the doors.
The wide paths at the Koala Park Sanctuary are accommodating of prams and strollers and if you don’t want to bring lunch, you can dine at the Wattleseed Cafe.
Tickets to the Koala Park Sanctuary cost $15 for kids aged 4 to 14 years and $30 for adults. A family pass (2 adults and 2 children) costs $82.
The Koala Park Sanctuary is 20 minutes’ drive from Sydney and free parking is available on site. Alternatively, you can take the T1 North Shore & Northern Line train to Pennant Hills Station, then catch the number 632 bus for the final stretch to the park entrance.
As its name suggests, this wildlife park in Somersby on the Central Coast is focused on reptiles. In fact, it boasts the largest collection in Australia, in addition to native mammals such as echidnas, wombats and Tasmanian devils. It bills itself as “Australia’s original hands-on zoo”, with up-close encounters on offer with their resident koalas, tree kangaroos and Komodo dragons. In addition to freshwater crocodiles native to Australia, you can also come face-to-face with American alligators.
If you want a more exclusive experience at the Australian Reptile Park, you can book in for a fully escorted tour with one of the keepers. Meet a giant python and hand-feed some of the reptiles while learning about the collection of snake and spider venom for the production of anti-venom.
Another claim to fame of the Australian Reptile Park is “Ploddy”, a 26-metre concrete Diplodocus. It was built by the park’s founder, Eric Worrell, in 1963 as the country’s first roadside “big thing” and is one to tick off the list!
Tickets to the Australian Reptile Park cost $27 for kids aged 3 to 15 years and $44 for adults. A family pass (2 adults and 2 children) costs $120.
The Australian Reptile Park is around one hour’s drive north of Sydney or can be accessed by train to Gosford Train Station. From here, you’ll need to grab an Uber or taxi to the park (be sure to keep your receipt for 25% off the entrance price).
Best Zoos + Wildlife Parks in Sydney: Further Afield
The largest zoo outside of Sydney is the award-winning Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, which is renowned for its open-range exhibits. Unlike most of Sydney’s zoos that are best explored on foot, this safari-style zoo is ideally experienced on wheels.
You can jump aboard one of their safari trucks to see giraffes, zebras and rhinos or rent a bicycle to explore the five-kilometre-long circuit under your own steam. Keeper talks are also held throughout the day, focusing on particular species and their characteristics. In addition to learning about the lifestyle of cheetahs and spider monkeys, you can discover how Galapagos tortoises can live up to 150 years.
Other standout experiences at Taronga Western Plains Zoo include the Early Morning Walk, which allows you to meet some of the park’s endangered and exotic species before the park opens for the day. Kids will also love the Elephant Barn Tour for observing these gentle giants enjoying a playful bath time.
Because there is so much to see and do at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo, many visitors opt to stay overnight for a mini safari experience. You can bunk down under the stars at the Billabong Camp (which is within earshot of the Lion Pride Lands), enjoy luxury glamping at the Zoofari Lodge or settle into one of the self-contained Savannah Cabins.
Tickets cost $25.20 for kids aged 4 to 15 years and $43.20 for adults. A family pass (2 adults and 2 children) is $121.60.
Dubbo is a one-hour flight from Sydney with Qantas or REX and can also be reached by regional trains from Central Station. If you’re driving, it will take five to six hours from Sydney and there is plenty of parking on site.
After a day exploring the best zoos in Sydney, why not stop off for a swim on some of the most beautiful secret eastern suburb beaches on the way home?