Lions roaming around you in a predator experience complex, African birds flying overhead in a free flight area and cheetahs racing past in a lure will soon become a reality at Monarto Zoo.
After 18 months of work, Zoos SA has revealed its 20-year master plan for Monarto Zoo, which includes a new entrance and visitor information centre on the zoo's northern boundary, more native species on display, improved disabled access to facilities, more private venue and catering options including on-site accommodation and options for bushwalking or self-driving within the zoo grounds.
If all goes to plan, the zoo's expansion and upgrade could also create local jobs and increase tourism numbers elsewhere in the Murraylands.
Zoos SA chief executive officer Elaine Bensted said bringing more people to Monarto Zoo with the new features would have flow on effects to local townships and the River Murray.
"I still think Monarto's a bit of a hidden secret for the State and we're looking to increase visitor numbers, both for locals and interstate and international visitors, that does bring real big growth for the region," she said.
"Of course if we've got growth, yes, we do see the opportunity for employment.
"The new entrance for the northern boundary is much closer to Murray Bridge and we've designed that so people are able to come in ... we're trying to give locals, in particular, an extra place to call in, have a coffee and maybe give the kids a play in the nature playground."
She said the developments would be funded through a range of funding sources - including corporate donors, government grants at local, State and Federal level, the private sector and the zoo's finances.
"We have returned to operating surplus so we can put some money away ourselves," she said.
In the next five years, the zoo hopes to be running the predator experience, on-site accommodation, cheetah lure, black rhino stop and new entrance and visitor centre.
Monarto Zoo will establish four precincts onsite - the African savannah, Australian outback, Back from the Brink and safari styles Wild Africa, and is hoping to add maned wolves, nyala, lowland gorillas, african elephants, ring-tailed lemurs and hamadryas baboons to its collection.