Baaa- rny over petting farm plan
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”.