Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Taronga Zoo 1916


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.

19 comments:

Virginia said...

A most beautiful building for a zoo. Our is so sad, I've only taken photos there once.
V

orvokki said...

Very wondelful building. The green ornament is truly beautifu,

Cassy said...

Such a beautiful zoo building.



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Doug Hickok said...

It is a wonderful example of lovely architecture. I like your points of view, and the clarity of the lighting.

Jo said...

What a beautiful building entering the Zoological Park. And your photos are brilliant as always, Julie. Greetings from Jo

Mark said...

I think the front gate has had a coat of paint since I was last there. I remember as a child all the concrete cages and pits.
One particular memory is being put on the back of a Galapagos turtle for a ride as a small child.
Things have certainly changed for the best.

Dianne said...

It's certainly well maintained and makes for an impressive entrance - I quite like the architecture and detailing!

Julie said...

Yep, I remember the tortoises. They are still there lumbering away. Probably the same old codgers. I last paid to go into the zoo in Dec 2010 with my son.

Kay L. Davies said...

I couldn't believe the architecture at the Sydney Zoo when my young brother and I visited there many years ago. It is probably unique in zoodom.
-- K

Gunn said...

So many beautiful details on the building(s).
Thanks for sharing!

Ann said...

I remember the concrete pits as well and I vaguely remember an elephant ride (must have been very young). I think they've kept some (empty of course) to show what it used to be like. So much better these days.

Peter said...

The first shot is amazing, it looks so fresh. When they moved across the harbour did they ferry the animals or walk them?

Julie said...

Jeesh! Whada question!!

Mmm ... Okay ... have searched the Sydney Dictionary, the Tarong website and the Centennial Parklands site. I am looking for a place called Billy Goat Swamp. But thus far zilch ...

My guess is they were trucked across in ... trucks.

So now I have to tramp that field that abutts Sydney Girls High on Anzace Pde looking for plaques. But they only had a coupla hundred animals. Did find out though that SGH moved to the old zoo site FROM the current DJs Elizabeth St site in the early 1920s. You needed to know this, of course ...

Yeah ... trucks ... shipped slowly in trucks ...

Julie said...

Did they ferry the animals or walk them. Hah! Across the water? They were animals, not Whitlams.

J Bar said...

Marvellous building. Marvellous shot.

diane b said...

I haven't been since they have improved the enclosures. The gates are impressive.

Joe said...

I too have memories of bears and big cats in concrete pits pacing endlessly from wall to wall or rocking back and forth clearly disturbed. I am so pleased that the modern zoo is more considerate of the animals well being.

Joan Elizabeth said...

I like old buildings with the paint picking out the designs like has been done here.

When I was a kid there used to be caged monkeys in the botanic gardens in Brisbane. We loved them. I remember riding the elephant at Melbourne zoo.

PerthDailyPhoto said...

Thank heavens for the changes in most Zoo's animal environments, they were so very depressing and not appealing to visit. This is a fantastic entrance to the Sydney Zoo, Aimee and I went last year when we were in Sydney. So interesting to read the history of the Zoo Julie, thanks.