11 Sydney Zoos and Wildlife Experiences you must add to your 2024 Bucketlist!

Sydney has some massive tourist attractions, including its iconic bridge, harbour and opera house. It also has world-class sporting and entertainment venues, an incredible dining scene and nightlife that is the envy of most cities in the world.

But one thing many people don’t realise is that the Emerald City is also a terrific place to visit for those who love animals as there are a number of zoos and wildlife experiences you can check out.

Not only are these venues full of fascinating creatures from all four corners of the globe, but they also feature fantastic up-close-and-personal interactive encounters that elevate your experience to a whole other level.

So where can you find them?

Here are the 11 best Sydney zoos and wildlife experiences to visit in 2024.

Taronga Zoo Sydney

Taronga Zoo has been an institution in Sydney for over 110 years and remains one of the city’s main tourist attractions.

Enjoying a stunning location upon the Mosman cliffs, it is worth coming here just for the coastal views, which stretch for as far as the eye can see. However, if you are an animal lover, you will also be in your element as the zoo is the largest in Australia.

Overall there are more than 5000 animals contained within the zoo. They include some of the most intriguing animals in the world, notably Sumatran tigers, Asian Elephants, kangaroos, koalas, African lions and giraffes. All of which are sure to fascinate you.

Aside from their display, Taronga Zoo offers a range of fantastic interactive programmes, the most popular of which is their Roar and Snore, which allows you to spend the night in the zoo in a campsite that directly overlook Sydney Harbour. Another much loved attraction is the Deluxe Wildlife Retreat which provides visitors with exclusive access after dark access to several nocturnal animals.

You could easily spend a day at Taronga Zoo and not see the half of it, so you will need to be organised. When not checking out the animals you can enjoy a decent meal at one of the onsite eateries. You should also spend some time in their merchandising shop and find out more about their fabulous conservation efforts.

Address: Bradleys Head Road, Mosman NSW 2088

Phone: (02) 9969 2777

Website: https://taronga.org.au/sydney-zoo

Hours: 9.30 am to 5 pm daily

Sydney Zoo

Situated on a sprawling 16.5-hectare site within the Western Sydney Parklands, Sydney Zoo is about 38 km from the CBD. It accommodates more than 4000 animals across 100 species, the unique selling point of which is Australia’s largest nocturnal and reptile collection.

The zoo opened in 2019 and strives to introduce visitors to and educate them on some of the most unique wildlife species in the world. This is primarily done through exhibits and interactive encounters with the likes of lions, red pandas, crocodiles, hyenas, tigers and capybaras,

It also contains an aquarium that is home to penguins and bull sharks, which is a real crowd favourite, as well as a fabulous Kids Zone which features plenty of fun entertainment options for the little ones in your party.

This Western Sydney Zoo gets very busy, so it is worth arriving early to beat the crowds.

Address: 700 Great Western Highway, Eastern Creek NSW 2766

Phone: (02) 7202 2560

Website: https://sydneyzoo.com/

Hours: 9 am to 5 pm daily

Featherdale Sydney Wildlife Park

Over in Greater Western Sydney, the Featherdale Sydney Wildlife Park is where you can see over 2000 Australian native animals. Included within this is the largest Australian wildlife collection in the world.

If you love koala’s this is a brilliant place to come as it possesses the biggest collective of them in New South Wales. Prepare to have your heartstrings tugged.

Other up-close and personal encounters you can have include sessions where you can meet and greet with quokkas, dingoes, echidnas, Tasmanian devils and wombats. As the zoo is less busy than Taronga or Sydney Zoo, you get to see these animals in a much more qualitative way.

Address: 217 Kildare Road, Doonside NSW 2767

Phone: (02) 9622 1644

Website: https://www.featherdale.com.au/

Hours: 8 am to 5 pm daily

WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo

Nestled within the vibrant Darling Harbour precinct, Wild Life Sydney Zoo is located next door to a massive retail and leisure precinct that also accommodates Madame Tussauds and the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium (more about that later).

Established in 2000, this is a place where the native animals of Australia are presented to the public

in a spectacular manner. Here, you can visit the Devil’s Den, where four Tassie devils are lovingly cared for. You can also enjoy the fabulous Kangaroo Walkabout, Wallaby Cliffs and Koala Rooftop, enabling you to interact with some of the country’s most cherished animal treasures.

Other species at the zoo include freshwater crocodiles, wombats, snakes, platypus, spiders and many different types of birds. If you are an early riser, you should try and make it for the 7.15 am koala brekkie package, which entitles you to entry, a buffet breakfast and a souvenir photo of you cuddling a koala, which you can take home with you.

Given its location, this is one of the easiest Sydney zoos to get to from anywhere in the city.

Address: Darling Harbour, 1-5 Wheat Road, Sydney NSW 2000

Phone: 1800 195 650

Website: https://www.wildlifesydney.com.au/

Hours: 10 am to 4 pm daily

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

As previously mentioned, the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium is situated adjacent to the WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo. So, once you have taken in all the magnificent creatures that roam above ground, you can explore the ecosystems and marine animals that reside beneath it.

As you walk around the attraction, prepare to be blown away by the extraordinary collection of aquatic animals you will see. Namely massive sea turtles that weigh over 100 kg, penguins, sharks, dugongs, tropical reef fish, jellyfish and sting rays.

One of the most popular exhibits here is Shark Valley, which features aisles of glass that you can walk through as these magnificent creatures glide serenely past. The Penguin Expedition is another must-see display. You’ll love the sight of these little guys waddling.

Address: Darling Harbour, 1-5 Wheat Road, Sydney NSW 2000

Phone: (02) 9333 9200

Website: https://www.visitsealife.com/sydney/

Hours: 10 am to 4 pm daily

Koala Park Sanctuary

As its name implies, the Koala Park Sanctuary is another excellent place to see koalas.

Situated at West Pennant Hills, within Sydney’s western suburbs, the venue celebrates Australia’s sleepiest and arguably cutest icon. It first opened its doors in 1930 and has since received plenty of plaudits for the work it has done to care for and reduce the many threats these animals have to their extinction.

You will be able to watch several koala related presentations throughout the day, which will teach you everything you wanted to know about these gorgeous animals.

In addition to these marsupials, you will also be able to see the likes of emus, dingoes, kangaroos and

plenty of other fascinating members of the animal kingdom.

Address: 84 Castle Hill Road, West Pennant Hills NSW 2125

Phone: (02) 9484 3141

Website: https://koalapark-sanctuary.com.au/

Hours: 9 am to 5 pm

Golden Ridge Animal Farm

Dural is only a 50-minute drive from the CBD in Sydney and it is worth heading there to visit the Golden Ridge Animal Farm.

This lovely venue is notable for housing a wide range of baby farm animals that little kids and big kids alike will love!

To make it easy for visitors to enjoy its attractions, tours of the farm are arranged in two-hour sessions that ensure everyone who goes there will have more than enough time to enjoy mingling with the chicks, rabbits and ducklings.

While entry entitles you to a number of meet and greets, you can pay for pony rides, bags of animal feed and collecting eggs separately.

For those more fascinated by trucks than animals, you can check out the Digger Zone where kids can operate mini diggers for a nominal charge.

Address: 686 Old Northern Road, Dural NSW 2158

Phone: 02 9651 1028

Website: https://www.goldenridgeanimalfarm.com.au/

Hours: Mon to Fri 10 am – 2pm, Sat & Sun 10.30 am to 2.30 pm

Calmsley Hill City Farm

If you have kids then you should add Calmsley Hill City Farm to your ‘must-visit’ list. Situated in Abbotsbury, just an hour’s drive from the CBD, this is a terrific place for little ones to get hands on with the animals.

You’ll get to see plenty of live demonstrations where you will be invited to milk cows, pat baby animals, snap whips and even ride tractors.

For those who’d rather look but not touch, you can enjoy sheep shearing shows and koala talks, as well as get to see camels, horses, birds and plenty of other farmyard animals.

Address: 31 Darling Street, Abbotsbury NSW 2176

Phone: (02) 9823 3222

Website: https://www.calmsleyhill.com.au/

Hours: Mon to Fri 9 am to 3 pm, Sat & Sun 9 am to 4 pm

Symbio Wildlife Park

This family-operated and owned zoo resides in Helensburgh, a leafy suburb on the southern outskirts of Sydney.

Nestled at the top of the Illawarra escarpment, it is just a short drive from other attractions like the Royal National Park, Stanwell Park Beach, Bald Hill Lookout and Sea Cliff Bridge. So, you can easily combine a visit here with these other drawcards.

Set across 16 scenic acres of beautifully tendered gardens, the park accommodates hundreds of animals. These range from exotic wildlife such as red pandas, cheetahs, small monkeys and ring-tailed lemurs to much loved natives like emus, kangaroos and wallabies.

On a daily basis, the park presents several captivating demonstrations. It also has a good selection of amenities and facilities including picnic areas, a Splash Park, undercover shelters and a large, shaded playground.

Address: 7/11 Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Helensburgh NSW 2508

Phone: (02) 4294 1244

Website: https://symbiozoo.com.au/

Hours: 9.30 am – 5 pm daily

Australian Reptile Park

If you fancy an hour’s drive to Somersby on the Central Coast, then the Australian Reptile Park is a terrific place to visit. This interactive, hands-on zoo is perhaps the best place in the country to see thrilling wildlife shows and get up close and personal with indigenous animals.

For over 65 years, this zoo has been a very popular tourist attraction. It is the only zoo in Australia that attempts to save lives through a spider and snake venom milking program. Indeed, this programme is so successful, it saves around 300 lives a year!

If arachnids and reptiles are not your thing, you can always hand-feed kangaroos, meet Hugo, the massive Galapagos tortoise, during his daily walk or have a close encounter with an alligator, koala or even Elvis, the crankiest crocodile in Australia!

You can even see the endangered Tasmanian devil and find out more about the efforts of the Australian Reptile Park to help save the species.

Address: Pacific Highway, Somersby NSW 2250

Phone: (02) 4340 1022

Website: http://reptilepark.com.au/

Hours: 9 am to 5 pm daily

Whale Watching in Sydney

While pretty much of all these zoos and wildlife attractions are paid for activities there is one you can do for free and that is whale watching.

During the months of May to November, these magnificent creatures make their way to Sydney’s much warmer waters from Antarctica, in search of much nicer conditions to breed and feed their young.

You can spot them along the coastline up and down New South Wales, although it is a good idea to take a guided boat tour. Some of the best places to do this include Barrenjoey Lighthouse, Bondi Beach, the Royal National Park and Kamay Botany Bay National Park.