On reading that Taronga Zoo again took out the top honours for Australia’s Main Tourist Attraction in the 2013 Qantas Tourism Awards it reminded me that I hadn’t been to the zoo for some time. It really is a fabulous zoo – the animals are sensational, the philosophy sound, the zookeepers, vets and staff friendly and professional and a harbour view that must be the envy of every other zoo in the world.
It’s funny how times and tastes change – when I was a little one I liked to look in awe at the Big Beasts – the lions, elephants and gorillas. These days I am more drawn to the cheeky little critters like the meerkats. But young and older, I have always been drawn to our closest relatives, the chimpanzees.
I was extremely saddened to learn of the passing of the zoo’s most famous and much-loved chimp, Lulu. She died on May 2, aged 62 years. Lulu came to Taronga back in 1965 and it was obvious then that she was a smart little cookie. Stories abound like the one where the gardener left a rake in the enclosure so Lulu finished the job, raking the leaves… and the time she was shot with a tranquiliser dart to sedate her before moving to another enclosure. She removed it, disassembled it and reassembled it, before passing out. And my favourite - on New Years Eve (and other special occasions) she would see boats gathering on the harbour and refuse to go inside the sleeping quarters. Instead, she would make herself comfortable under a tree, put her hands behind her head and kick back to wait for the fireworks.
Lulu left many fond memories and a lovely legacy of chimps – she had eight children, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
If you are visiting Sydney to take in attractions like Taronga Zoo, Rydges North Sydney can look after all your accommodation needs.