Bear with me if I state that this is from the 'cute' school of architecture. This wasn't the first site for a zoo in Sydney. That honour lies with a section of Moore Park which today houses Sydney Boys' High School which was a zoo in the 1880s. That area became too small and from just after 1910 the state government was looking for another site, eventually dedicating 50 odd acreages of prime harbour foreshore. The zoo opened in October 1916 and all these top gate buildings were original at that time.
The word 'taronga' means 'beautiful view' in an aboriginal dialect.
However, when reading the history of Taronga on their site, it occurred to me that a smidge of air-brushing had been going on. I think the first time I went to the zoo was in 1954 when I was 6. Elephant rides were all the go. But ... but ... I remember the name of Sir Edward Hallstrom being instrumental in the history of Taronga Zoo. But no longer it seems. I had to go to Wiki for information.
Hallstrom was an engineer who made his money designing and manufacturing refridgerators between the wars. His best known brand was the Silent Knight range. He made a motza and went into philanthropy in a big way.
But he had neither training nor experience in fauna, native or otherwise. And it was he who was instrumental in setting up concrete pits for the early animals. This is my earliest memory: animals pacing up and down in concrete pits was down below me. Of gorillas in square cages. Cages, cages, cages ... And Hallstrom bore the brunt of the change in the way animals were treated. And respected.
I am not unhappy with the change, and the zoo today is a remarkable place. I just don't like airbrushing. For any reason. I do like these cute buildings, though.