It's beautifully laid out, the paths are wide and meandering, and – most importantly – the place is full of animals. Really interesting ones too: along with the lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) there are impossibly cute new young elephants, chimps and giraffes, as well as Taronga classics (pygmy hippos, the komodo dragon, koalas, platypi, Andean condors) and many exotic creatures you may not be immediately familiar with. We don't want to play favourites, but if Malaysia's noble bear-cat is binturong, we don't want to be binturight.
Taronga is also the most fun way possible to have your conscience pricked about the parlous state of the planet for many of our co-inhabitants. For an example of a sobering statistic: right this minute, you almost certainly have more Facebook friends than there are wild Sumatran Tigers. As that little factlet suggests, the zoo is also making a song and dance about its conservation work as well as its education, research and breeding programmes, so you can spend freely on site knowing that your money is going towards funding worthwhile causes. That stuffed penguin you bought for your nephew might be making the difference between the survival or the extinction of the Corroboree frog.
Make a day of it and take in the shows (especially the bird and seal performances) as well as the feeding times, which are available at the website, in order to see the beasts at their most lively. It's worthwhile getting a combined ferry/skyway/zoo ticket if you're coming from south of the bridge: the trip across the Harbour is an always-welcome reminder of just how beautiful our city is, and you get to arrive at the zoo entrance via the Sky Safari cable car – looking down on the elephants and chimps as you go.