Australia’s Taronga Zoo celebrates 100th birthday

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Sydney, Oct 7 (IANS) Australia’s Taronga Zoo on Friday celebrated its 100th birthday in style by serving up surprises for its giraffes, elephants and more than 6,000 guests to mark a century of bringing people and wildlife together.

The zoo, which opened its doors in 1916, began the centenary celebrations at the giraffe exhibit, where Taronga’s tallest animals were treated to a special birthday breakfast before opening hours, Xinhua news agency reported.

Keepers decorated the exhibit with a giant number “100” made from leaves, giving the giraffes a chance to use their amazing 20-inch tongues to retrieve the tasty treats.

New South Wales Environment Minister Mark Speakman said wildlife conservation had come a long way in the 100 years since Taronga Zoo first opened in Mosman after moving from Moore Park in Sydney.

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“Over the past century, Taronga has transformed itself from a place of entertainment to a mature conservation hub that works well beyond traditional zoo boundaries to prevent the poaching and trafficking of wildlife, protect and regenerate critical habitat, and increase understanding of wildlife across the globe,” he said.

Five thousand lucky supporters won free tickets to visit Taronga by entering a birthday ballot.

Taronga’s chief executive Cameron Kerr said the centenary was a chance to celebrate the Zoo’s first 100 years and also launch a legacy for the future of wildlife conservation.

“In this pivotal 100th year, we are setting out to make a lasting and positive impact on the future of 10 vitally important species from Australia and Sumatra,” Kerr said.

“From the magnificent Asian Elephant to the tiny Corroboree Frog, Taronga has committed to support these species for the next decade, and over this time effectively turn around their fate so they can thrive for another 100 years,” he said.

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