7 November 2019

"They will honour my legacy and do it proud" - Sally Padey, Mogo Zoo

| Ian Campbell
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Sally Padey. Photo: Mogo Zoo.

Sally Padey. Photo: Mogo Zoo Facebook.

Mogo Zoo without Sally Padey?! At the end of this month that will be a reality. It’s something Sally herself is coming to terms with.

“The sound of the lions roaring, it just resonates right into your soul – I am going to miss that so much,”
Sally told ABC South East NSW.

Aside from being Sally’s home for the last thirty years, Mogo Zoo boasts the largest collection of primates in Australia, along with zebras, Southern White Rhinos, giraffes, meerkats, lions, tigers, red pandas and more.

Mogo Zoo boasts the largest collection of primates in Australia. Photo: Mogo Zoo Facebook.

Mogo Zoo boasts the largest collection of primates in Australia. Photo: Mogo Zoo Facebook.

At the end of November, just prior to the zoo’s 30th anniversary on Boxing Day, Sydney’s Featherdale Wildlife Park will take over.

“They will honour my legacy and do it proud,” Sally says in a voice full of emotion.

“How I am going to drive out the driveway that final time? I don’t know. I’ll never be happy to walk away, but I need a life as well and it’s too big for me now.”

The Lemur Boys of Mogo Zoo. Photo: Mogo Zoo Facebook.

The Lemur Boys of Mogo Zoo. Photo: Mogo Zoo Facebook.

Negotiations between the two organisations started over 12 months ago, and with Sally approaching her 62nd birthday it was time to pass on the “great responsibility” of looking after Australia’s largest collection of privately owned exotic animals.

“I feel that I can now hand the reins over and I feel that they will really do my zoo proud.”

In terms of her own future, Sally points to time with her family.

“I really didn’t see my daughter grow up, she was five when we started this, we’ve just been so busy, and I would love to watch my grandchildren grow up,” Sally says.

“I don’t know what I will do and that is the honest truth, I want to go for a drive. I have some very strong feelings on a lot of different things that I haven’t been in a position to speak about.”

Snow and co, Mogo's famous white lion. Photo: Mogo Zoo Facebook.

Snow and co, Mogo’s famous white lion. Photo: Mogo Zoo Facebook.

Steve Sass, Head Keeper and Owner of On the Perch Bird Park at Tathra, says Mogo is in good hands.

“Featherdale has one of the largest collections of Australian animals in the world. It’s long been a favourite for me as a visitor ever since I was a young child,” he says.

“The team at Mogo Zoo is a very strong team of zookeepers who no doubt will continue to be supported by their new owners. I’m not sure of any specific plans for Mogo Zoo, but I’m sure if Sally had any doubts at about the new owners, she would not have proceeded.

“We wish Sally all the very best in the future.”

Local historian and author Kim Odgers wrote of Sally’s journey in his book ‘Our Town Our People’.

“In the late 1980s, Sally with her then husband, Bill, began an uncertain journey with little more than a vision and $4,000,” he writes.

“The constant early pressure took a toll on the marriage. Sally purchased Bill’s half share, assuming full financial and developmental responsibility.

“At one point Sally was forced to sell her humble sedan in Batemans Bay for just half its value in order to pay mounting bills. She hitchhiked back to Mogo

“With unwavering commitment over the next several decades, Sally produced a multi-million dollar world-class facility exhibiting over 200 animals, one quarter being rare and exotic.

“A particularly low point came in 2009. Sally, the passionate animal lover, lost a family member and one of her closest friends.

“Jamelia was a rejected lion cub for whom Sally had been personally caring for 9 years. A tawny African lioness, Jamelia one morning left her enclosure due to keeper error and began moving towards a public area. Sally knew the required procedure. Thinking with her head and not her heart, she instructed a marksman to put her down.

“Her decision, plus the unfair critical mail and phone calls that followed, made this the most difficult period of Sally’s long zoo involvement,” Kim writes.

Mogo Zoo has Australia’s largest collection of privately owned exotic animals including – orangutans! Photo: Mogo Zoo Facebook.

Chad Staples, Director of Life Sciences for Featherdale Wildlife Park, says “It’s a real honour to steward the future of Mogo Zoo’s diverse collection of animals in addition to Featherdale. Sally will always be available to talk about the history of the zoo.”

Chad is currently in the Eurobodalla focused on familiarising himself with Mogo’s keeper rounds and learning everything about the collection.

Featherdale is said to be, Sydney’s most interactive wildlife experience and is a critical player in Australian wildlife conservation, and is home to the world’s most extensive collection of native Australian animals.

Tony Chiefari, General Manager of Featherdale Wildlife Park, says he is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.

“The animal collection at Mogo Zoo perfectly complements our Featherdale collection. We welcome the opportunity to drive visitation and economic growth to the Eurobodalla Shire further as we have done in Blacktown by capitalising on Mogo Zoo’s proximity to growth areas along the NSW South Coast and the ACT.”

“We will be expanding the strategies we implemented at Featherdale over recent years to Mogo Zoo, rolling out a program of dual annual passes, joint marketing and publicity campaigns for both local, regional and international markets.”

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Catherine Jongens10:06 am 06 Nov 19

What an incredible job Sally has done in the development and care of Mogo zoo. It has always been our favourite and have many special memories with our children from Mogo zoo.
But yes, it sounds like it is time for you now, Sally. Enjoy being part of your daughter and your grandchildren’s lives… such a special time… you deserve it. I am sure the zoo would always welcome you back with open arms anytime as a guest speaker, consultant or even visitor. It will always be that part of you… and you will always be a part of the zoo. Enjoy your “retirement “, Sally.

Sally, you have been an inspiration to all. Your resilience amazing and at times this has been stretched so very tight. So honoured to have been a volunteer at this beautiful zoo and see all that you have achieved. Time now for you to step back and smell the roses. Enjoy your family and new lifestyle, this is your time now. What an amazing legacy you have left for all to enjoy.

Elaine Staples2:27 am 06 Nov 19

Your pain at leaving is genuinely understood Sally. Best wishes for your future .

Wish Sally all the best in her new life as a nanna to her grand children and I hope one day I can get to visit Mogo Zoo, I have wanted to visit this wonderful zoo for ever. I will make it down there just as soon as I get through all my rehab after a bad accident, and I am able to travel. I want to see tigers they are my sll time fav animal in the entire animal kingdom.

Amanda Yeoman7:30 pm 05 Nov 19

Sally what an amazing Zoo you’ve established over 30 years, May you enjoy your Daughter and beautiful Grandies TAKE CARE..

Great stuff I’m sure feather dale will do mogo proud

Patrick Hennessey10:25 am 05 Nov 19

So sad to hear Sally has to move from Mogo Zoo but I am positive that in joining with Featherdale it will live on and grow..
I have been a visitor to both and they are the best privately owned Zoo’s in the world.
My last visit to Mogo a few years ago an Experience with Quinoa the Tiger and his friend the German Shepherd… I will be going back soon for another visit.

While I don’t like a lot of zoos I was impressed with Mogo zoo.
All the best Sally Paddy, enjoy your retirement. I’m sure you will go back to visit many times.
I hope the new management stays true to all the animals and staff, and Mogo zoo’s vision.

peter thorburn10:02 am 05 Nov 19

The end of an era Sally.Nadia and I have been on this journey since we put some money in at the beginning.I hope we get an invite to the final bash .

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