A proposed privately operated zoo in Western Sydney has been referred to the NSW Planning and Assessment Commission for a final decision.
The 16.5-hectare zoo, to be located within the Western Sydney Parklands at Bungarribee, 33 kilometres west of Sydney’s CBD, is masterplanned by Aspect Studios.
Sydney Zoo is a new $36 million zoological park and is set to be an iconic tourist attraction located in the Bungarribee Precinct, Western Sydney Parklands. The new Sydney Zoo will work in collaboration with the Western Sydney Parklands Trust and Blacktown Council to contribute to enhancing social and cultural infrastructure in Western Sydney.
The site is located approximately 33 kilometres west of Sydney’s CBD, and approximately 15 kilometres east of Penrith. It is in close proximity to the Great Western Highway, M4 Western Motorway and Westlink M7, providing excellent access to both the state and regional road network and surrounding parkland areas.
The total contribution to the NSW economy is estimated at $45 million per year and is expected to boost employment with 160 jobs during construction and at least 120 jobs during its operation.
ASPECT Studios was commissioned by Sydney Zoo to design the master plan for the 16.5-hectare site. Designed with the desire to connect it with the broader landscape of the surrounding park, the new zoo will appear to be free of fences with enclosure devices concealed in the landscape elements. This strategy allows people to be in close proximity with the animals while at the same time employing best practices in animal welfare.
The primary concept is to have the building mimic the landscape and blend into the existing and proposed new landscape solution for the site. The buildings on the site will each create a point of difference within the area of the master plan, the buildings own expression based on the use and the position.
The new privately operated zoo will feature over 30 exhibits showing popular zoo attractions from various regions around the globe as well as native Australian wildlife. It features elevated boardwalks over African grasslands home to lions, cheetahs, zebras, elephants, giraffes and rhinos; an underwater glass view facility for hippos, crocodiles and aquatic life; native Australian reptile and nocturnal animals house featuring leading exhibit design methods; and a native fish aquarium.
750,000 people are expected to visit the Zoo per annum with over $2 million to be spent by travellers, with an extra 35,000 interstate and international visitors per year.
Sydney Zoo’s commitment to animal welfare is paramount – the core focus will be to provide exceptional care for the animals and striving to be known as an animal welfare advocate in Australia. Exemplary animal welfare standards are the core of the zoo’s operating ethos. According to its website, Sydney Zoo’s new Animal Welfare Policy will ensure high animal welfare standards are met.
Sydney Zoo will be education and conservation oriented, offering a range of programs that enable visitors to develop their knowledge and respect for living creatures and the environment. These programs will increase awareness about issues such as poaching and habitat destruction.
The Zoo is anticipated to open in late 2017.
Sydney Zoo’s executive team is comprised of highly experienced professionals, with extensive experience in owning and operating similar facilities. The new Sydney Zoo is currently exploring a number of partnerships with key organisations in the areas of animal welfare, education, conservation and Aboriginal culture and employment, including:
- University of Western Sydney – for a centre of excellence in wildlife conservation research
- Faculty of Veterinary Science, The University of Sydney – for veterinary services, animal nutrition, welfare and behavioural enhancement, wildlife rescue and recovery
- Muru Mittigar – Aboriginal culture and history, bush planting and recovery
- Australian Wildlife Conservancy – public outreach and animal housing.
NSW Department of Planning and Environment has made its assessment of the proposed zoo and has recommended that the Planning and Assessment Commission “approve the development application” subject to a number of strict conditions relating to the ecological impacts of the proposal.
The department’s report stated that 56 submissions were received, following the exhibition of the proposal in December 2015. Among them were 35 objections. “Key concerns raised by the public related to the potential introduction of weeds, impacts to endangered ecological communities, animal welfare and the privatization of public space,” the report reads.
The department also noted that proponents of the zoo have revised parts of the design to address the issues raised but also made a number of recommendations to minimize the ecological impacts. These include purchasing biodiversity credits, establishing a plan to conserve and manage the vegetation that will be retained and installing an intensive water-quality monitoring program.
ASPECT Studios, MISHO + Associates, Lindsay Dynan, JBA Urban, GTA Consultants, Evolved Engineering, Eco Logical Australia, Artefact
Budget: $36 million