What started as a handful of animals on a patch of farmland has grown into one of Australia’s most significant collections of endangered animals, thanks to the passion of Sally Padey.

Story By Terri Cowley

In every word she utters about it, Sally Padey’s passion for her zoo and its animals is palpable. “We don’t have the money some of the bigger, private and government zoos have, but we make up for it with passion and determination,” she says. “I feel very, very responsible for not only the animals, but the people here. It is an amazing place.”
Sally owns Mogo Zoo on the South Coast of New South Wales. (The delightful village of Mogo is 10 kilometres south of Batemans Bay.) Born in New Zealand, she came to Australia in 1977 and travelled with a mate who was heading to the South Coast. There she met Bill Padey, her future husband, and together they spent the next few years travelling around Australia, including doing aerial buffalo mustering in the Top End.
They returned to Mogo, where Bill’s mum and dad were living, and started a taxidermy business and museum and then the zoo in 1988 when their daughter, Casey, was 5. “It started with $4000 and a dream,” Sally says.
With the help of a business partner, Bill and Sally purchased approximately 32 hectares of farmland, which included some room for a house and garden, and acquired some endangered exotic animals. Today Sally, 57, is the sole owner – she and Bill parted ways some years ago but remain friends, and the business partner is no longer involved. The zoo has 250 animals and 42 staff. It sprawls over about half the site, and Sally continues to live there. Star attractions include white lions, Sumatran tigers, snow leopards, western lowland gorillas, golden lion tamarins and red pandas, plus reptiles and Australian animals. A 15-year plan came to fruition in early 2015 when the zoo took possession of two southern white rhinos.

This Story is from Issue #105

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2016