Baaa- rny over pet­ting farm plan

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - LINDA SILMALIS

A ROW over pet­ting zoos has erupted be­tween a Syd­ney farm at­trac­tion — which has one — and the op­er­a­tors of the new Western Syd­ney zoo, which wants one.

Calm­s­ley Hill City Farm claims the pro­posed new Syd­ney Zoo, which is just 8km away, should stick to ex­otics such as li­ons and go­ril­las and not of­fer farm an­i­mals such as baby goats.

The dis­pute was aired dur­ing a bud­get es­ti­mates plan­ning hear­ing last week, with op­po­si­tion plan­ning spokesman Adam Searle ask­ing the state gov­ern­ment how it could al­low two op­er­a­tors to have the same ex­hibit.

Es­tab­lished in Fair­field in 1984, Calm­s­ley Hill of­fers fam­i­lies ac­cess to a pet­ting zoo, work­ing dog show, cow milk­ing, koala ex­hi­bi­tion and trac­tor rides, while also ed­u­cat­ing schoolchil­dren on farm­ing.

Syd­ney Zoo, which is yet to re­veal an open­ing date, is more fo­cused on ex­otic an­i­mals such as tigers and ze­bras.

But Calm­s­ley Hill di­rec­tor Carl Small said he was sur­prised when a for­mer staff mem­ber who had joined Syd­ney Zoo rang him to ask about farm an­i­mals.

Af­ter con­firm­ing the zoo would also be hav­ing a “farm ex­hibit”, al­beit smaller, Mr Small fired off a let­ter to the In­de­pen­dent Plan­ning Com­mis­sion NSW.

He ac­cused the zoo of fail­ing to con­sult and “ac­tively” tak­ing steps to “repli­cate our farm ex­pe­ri­ence”.

“We con­tacted the zoo and re­quested that they not keep or ex­hibit farm an­i­mals for a num­ber of rea­sons but most par­tic­u­larly be­cause it erodes the dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion of our busi­nesses and of­fer­ings.”

Both Calm­s­ley Hill City Farm and Syd­ney Zoo have a lease with the Western Syd­ney Park­lands Trust, which man­ages the land both oc­cupy.

Syd­ney Zoo manag­ing di­rec­tor Jake Burgess said it had been in dis­cus­sions with Calm­s­ley Hill City Farm, “align­ing on a mu­tu­ally agree­able ar­range­ment for the fu­ture and is pleased they have ac­knowl­edged their dis­ap­point­ment is un­fairly di­rected at Syd­ney Zoo.”

Plan­ning Min­is­ter Rob Stokes en­cour­aged both busi­nesses to work to­gether.

“Good plan­ning en­ables the whole to be greater than the sum of the parts,” he said. “These busi­nesses work­ing to­gether can be a tourism pow­er­house for Western Syd­ney, and they’d be crazy not to.”

A Western Syd­ney Park­lands spokesman said the trust was aware that Syd­ney Zoo would have a “small se­lec­tion of farm an­i­mals” on dis­play. How­ever, the ex­hibit “posed no com­pe­ti­tion to Calm­s­ley Hill City Farm’s ex­ten­sive farm ex­pe­ri­ence”.

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