A new predator experience is set to be unleashed at Monarto Zoo by the end of the year, thanks to joint funding between Zoos SA and the federal and state governments.
By Christmas, the public will be able to enter the heart of the lion’s den to get up close and personal with one of the most dangerous carnivores in the world.
Based on Port Lincoln’s shark cave diving, the new attraction will take visitors through an underground tunnel to a cage in the centre of the lions enclosure.
Zoos SA Chief Executive Officer Elaine Bensted said the experience would reverse the zoo concept, with the people inside the cage and lions above and all around them.
“I think it will attract all kinds of people… if you’ve ever had the chance to get close to a lion you know they’re just amazing creatures,” she said.
“There is nothing of this scale anywhere in the world.”
She said the paid experience would coincide with feeding times to ensure an exciting visit for guests.
Predator Experience is the next stage in Monarto Zoo’s master plan to expand the zoo in the coming years.
State Minister for Regional Development Geoff Brock said it would add to the tourism attractions for the Monarto and Murray Bridge area, and would be an economic boost for growth in the region.
“It could bring over a million dollars per annum into the region,” he said.
“The state government put in $360,000 and the federal government put in $350,000.”
“This is going to be an experience of a lifetime… to be close to the lions is something you really don’t understand until you’ve been there.”
Member for Barker Tony Pasin said he was pleased that the Federal Government could contribute $350,000 to the project.
“The project was identified in the Zoo’s master plan, and supports a number of objectives of the South Australian Tourism Plan 2020 as well as Rural City of Murray Bridge plans,” he said.
“Investment in regional infrastructure that will increase jobs in the region during construction as well as at least 3 ongoing jobs thereafter is a great benefit to our region.”
“The fact that this will also bring such a massive increase in tourism numbers upon completion makes this is a win win for the local community.”