How to Move a Zoo

More than a hundred years ago, Sydney’s residents were woken by a cacophony of weird and wonderful noises. The zoo animals were on the move.

Over the course of six months in 1916, hundreds of Sydney’s favourite animals left behind their dismal and outdated cages at the old Moore Park Zoo and were shepherded through the city streets before being ferried across the harbour to their new, purpose-built home – Taronga Zoological Park. From a 4-ton elephant named Jessie, to kangaroos, lions and cockatoos, animals big and small made this extraordinary journey to a new life in one of the world’s most beautiful zoos.

Amid the traumatic days of the Great War, the creation of the new zoo and the remarkable feat of moving hundreds of animals captured the hearts and imaginations of Sydneysiders. How to Move a Zoo invites visitors of all ages to reimagine this unique Sydney story and meet the animals that delighted generations.

Enter a space of immersive projections that re-create the sights and sounds of the animals’ journey through the streets of Sydney. Choose your animal and see it walk, run, hop or fly across the cityscape to its new home at Taronga. Discover how the planning of Taronga incorporated the latest zookeeping practices to give the animals spacious, bar-less enclosures set into the natural landscape.

Specially commissioned illustrations, coupled with rarely seen historical photographs from the NSW State Archives Collection, re-create this incredible story in a playful, thought-provoking interactive exhibition.

Past exhibition

  • 20 November 2021 - 24 April 2022

Child exploring the How to Move a Zoo exhibition.

About How to Move a Zoo

During the summer of 2021–22 this exhibition showed how hundreds of animals journeyed across the city to their new home at Taronga Zoological Park in 1916

Jessie the elephant

More than any other zoo animal, Jessie the elephant captured the hearts of Sydneysiders, delighting visitors at Moore Park Zoo and then Taronga for more than 50 years

The story of how to move a zoo

In the early hours of Sunday, 24 September 1916, an elephant named Jessie walked out through the gates of the Zoological Gardens at Moore Park in Sydney’s eastern suburbs and began an extraordinary journey through the city