Lion Enclosure, Taronga ZooSydney

A transparent and lightweight perimeter fence fit for a king!

When we were commissioned to design, engineer, supply and install the perimeter fence for the lion enclosure at Taronga Zoo, we understood the need for a very robust barrier that would provide maximum safety!

We worked closely with builder Zauner Construction and the base structural engineers to create a durable, transparent barrier for the resident lions. The architect firm for the project was TZG (Tonkin Zulaikha Greer).

Creating natural habitats with an immersive experience

The lion enclosure forms part of the African Savannah precinct at the iconic Sydney zoo. Zoos put a lot of research and work into creating habitats where wild species can roam and behave naturally, and the African Savannah precinct is no exception. It also provides a highly immersive experience for visitors, where they can get up close and observe the animals.

The Savannah is not only home to lions, but also giraffes, zebras, meerkats and Fennec foxes. To mimic a natural African landscape, the precinct includes a waterhole, rocks, dispersed trees and shaded areas.

The Savannah precinct officially opened in June 2020.  If you haven’t visited it already, it is most certainly worth the time, especially with the stunning backdrop of Sydney Harbour.

Barrier considerations for the project

With lions being powerful animals that can jump fences as high as five metres, safety was the top priority for the enclosure fence. But there were plenty of other factors to consider as well. These included:

  • Access to the site for machinery.
  • The logistics of installing a barrier on a highly sloping site.
  • Transparency to allow clear viewing of the animals.
  • Speed of construction.
  • Avoidance of sharp edges and toe-holds.

The Webnet mesh solution

To meet the requirements, we used 50mm aperture Webnet mesh, made from 3mm stainless steel wire rope. Over 900m2 of mesh infill was used, sized into panels spanning between 5m and 6.5m. The panels were prefabricated to save time and speed up construction.

Any potential problems associated with the sloping terrain were eliminated by Webnet’s ability to be formed into any geometric shape. This allowed for continuity with the nearby chimpanzee and tiger enclosures as well.

The perimeter cables, parts and mesh were all finished in black to blend with the background tree-line. The higher level fences were left with a stainless steel finish, as they do not interrupt viewing.

In the end, installation was speedy with the bulk of the mesh being installed in under two weeks. We consider one of the keys to the success of the project was accuracy in the footings, which was made possible by our close collaboration with Zauner.

A brand new home for the King of the Jungle

By using Webnet, our team was able to reduce the amount of steel within the perimeter fence by about two-thirds. This in turn reduced the visual impact of the fence and project costs by a substantial amount.

Overall, we consider this to be one of the best sites we have ever worked on. The lions now have a beautiful new home and outlook! The enclosure barrier itself is highly efficient, transparent and lightweight, yet strong enough to withstand the force of a charging animal.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable project, and certainly one that Tensile is proud to have been a part of.

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