Perth Zoo unveils 125th birthday gift — an all-abilities, immersive playground

The Perth Zoo recently unveiled a birthday gift — the new Perth Zoo Nature Playground located on Whadjuk Country, designed by Hassell to offer an immersive and educational experience for all.

The all-abilities Nature Playground features a misting cloud deck with an accessible bridge, an endangered Numbat play sculpture, Cockatoo models flying overhead and an engaging Gibbon mimicry experience. Other highlights include a 40-metre rope tunnel — one of the country’s longest — and overhead brachiating ropes. The Playground is a significant milestone for Perth Zoo’s Master Plan 2040.

For 125 years, Perth Zoo has held a special place in the hearts and minds of Western Australian community members. It’s wonderful to see how families and visitors have eagerly embraced this early phase of its upcoming transformation by experiencing all that the Playground has to offer.” 

— Anthony Brookfield, Principal

The new Playground offers more than just a fun playtime for families. It’s designed to raise awareness among users about Perth Zoo’s work in conservation and breeding. An elevated Group Space further enhances social learning opportunities for individuals and school groups. 

A large-scale play sculpture depicting a Numbat — Western Australia’s fauna emblem and a very endangered animal — serves as a prominent symbol of Perth Zoo’s conservation and breeding efforts. Additionally, the importance of the Red-tailed Black Cockatoos, whose population has declined due to forest and woodland destruction, is highlighted through the flyover features above the cloud deck, which are painted red, white and black.

To seamlessly integrate the Playground with the botanical heritage of the site and improve accessibility, the Hassell design team manipulated topography changes, accommodating a two-metre level change across the narrow site. Looping pathways that gently meander around the site link entry points with various play experiences. 

Hassell has designed the Perth Zoo Master Plan 2040 in collaboration with Iredale Pedersen Hook. It outlines a series of inter-connected projects that align with the Zoo’s future growth and strategic goals over the next 20 years. These projects aim to enhance exhibits, upgrade the grounds, and improve the overall visitor experience while ensuring the welfare of the animals and prioritising conservation efforts.

The next stage in the Master Plan will be the construction of the Primate Run, which is due to start in 2024. This innovative crossing will provide overhead rope pathways for Gibbons, allowing them to explore and swing in an expanded territory. This not only improves the welfare of the Gibbons but also offers an exciting experience for Zoo visitors as they pass through the primate area.

Other planned developments in the Master Plan include the expansion of the African Savannah exhibit, the Orangutan Asian Rainforest Precinct, and the Conservation Science Precinct. Each stage will further elevate the Zoo’s offerings and provide visitors with enriching and captivating experiences.

Under the Master Plan, which has been supported by a $51 million investment from the Cook Government, our iconic Zoo will be able to modernise and deliver even better experiences for visitors, while ensuring stronger conservation outcomes for threatened species.”

— Hon Reece Whitby MLA, Minister for Environment; Climate Action; Racing and Gaming


October 24, 2023


Robert Frith Acorn Photography

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