You couldn’t find a more spectacular setting for a zoo and now Taronga in Sydney will host an exceptional new teaching and research facility.
The Taronga Institute of Science & Learning is a purpose-built research and education centre on site at Taronga Zoo housing the largest conservation science team of any zoo in Australasia.
The Science Hub provides dedicated science lab facilities to support Taronga’s science team, including two multi-disciplinary labs, a behavioural ecology lab, wildlife health lab, CryoDiversity lab and enrichment development centre. The Cryo lab or ‘frozen zoo’ is preserving the largest collection of frozen coral cells from the Great Barrier Reef until they are needed to re-seed the reef.
The Learning Hub is made up of three immersive habitat classrooms. These multi-sensory education spaces mimic the climate and geography of the desert, rainforest and woodlands. The classrooms are home to animals you would typically find in these habitats, such as echidnas and bilbies in the Arid classroom and Cotton-top Tamarins in the Rainforest classroom. It also houses a teaching lab, a 250-seat lecture theatre and tutorial rooms providing learning facilities suited to students from preschool right through to PhD.
Atrium and Collaborative Centre provides informal spaces for collaboration and independent study for students participating in Taronga learning programs, it is the physical link between conservation science and education programs, where visiting school students can witness conservation science in action and be inspired by role models and access pathways for a future STEM career.
Dr Justine O’Brien, Taronga’s Manager of Conservation Science, a leader in the field of wildlife reproductive research, believes: “everyone should feel empowered in securing a sustainable future for our planet, wildlife and people. As a not-for-profit, Taronga has an absolute commitment to the conservation of wildlife and its conservation science programs support ecosystems across the globe.”
Australia is facing an environmental crisis, with more than 1800 plant and animal species and ecological communities currently at risk of extinction. Working on the frontline of animal care and population management, Taronga Zoo, a Sydney icon, has evolved from a well-loved tourist attraction into a beacon of conservation. The Taronga Institute will allow Taronga to expand its vital work for some of our most at-risk and significant species.
Taronga’s conservation work is strategic and varied. It includes breed-to-release programs for threatened and priority species, field conservation work and habitat restoration and education programs. Additionally, Taronga scientists work with partner zoos, universities and conservation organisations such as World Wildlife Fund and Fauna and Flora International to develop crucial protection, breeding and in-situ conservation programs for species in areas ranging from Tasmania to the Congo. Through Taronga’s breed-to-release programs and the rehabilitation work at its two wildlife hospitals, Taronga has released more than 50,000 animals into the wild.
The Taronga Institute’s education centre is the connection between theory and practice, and will offer learning programs for students from kindergarten to PhD level. This will allow Taronga the opportunity to help shape the mindset of the next generation of conservationists and inspire them to be part of the solution to ensure a shared future for wildlife and people. The Taronga Institute will support the essential need for contextual STEM learning and, together with its wider Zoo sites, will provide authentic, interactive learning opportunities in an environment of working science and role models across a broad range of professions
The Taronga Institute is the latest milestone for the Taronga Conservation Society Australia, which also operates Australia’s world-renowned Taronga Zoo Sydney and Taronga Western Plains Zoo in regional NSW.