The image above is a beautiful picture, capturing something of a idyllic day at the Sydney Zoo – now known as Taronga Zoo. The zoo has long been a popular destination, not just for Sydneysiders, but for visitors to Sydney too, but the zoo depicted in this image is very different to the one we know today. In fact, it wasn’t even in the same place!
In the mid to late 1800s, interest in animals was very strong and a Sydney Zoological Society was soon formed, reflecting this interest. Of course, they wished to establish a Zoological Park or Garden, and in the 1880s, Sydney City Council granted permission for the society to take over an area of Moore Park. The name of the area was Billy Goat Swamp. Today, the area which the original zoo occupied, including the lake depicted in this photo, is part of the Sydney Girls High School.
The original incarnation of the Zoological Gardens was quite simple, but as time went by, and under direction from Charles Moore, the gardens expanded and were upgraded – eventually including an elephant house and a bear pit.
Soon enough, the Zoo was wildly popular with Sydneysiders and visitors alike and the original site was deemed no longer suitable – and too small. A new site was needed and in 1916 Moore Park Zoological Gardens closed and on October 7th, Taronga Zoo was officially opened on its current site.