More than 2000 exotic and native animals are now calling western Sydney home as the city's first new zoo in 100 years opens to the public.
Sydney Zoo opens its gates on Saturday with the public able to view more than 95 species from across Australia, Southeast Asia and Africa, including wombats, emus, baboons, spider monkeys, lions and zebras.
The Bungarribee Park zoo - featuring 30 habitats across four precincts - is expected to attract one million visitors each year.
Managing director Jake Burgess said Sydney Zoo aimed to inspire change by "creating a sense of wonder and appreciation for the amazing and diverse creatures of the world".
Humanity is living in an era of "almost unprecedented species decline," Mr Burgess said at Friday's ribbon cutting.
The Black Plague pandemic was imprinted on the collective human psyche "as a catastrophe of unfathomable proportions", he said, yet it pales in comparison to what humans are doing to the natural world.
"It is the responsibility of institutions like zoos and museums to educate," Mr Burgess said.
"We need to promote behavioural change. We need to do what we can to try and save us from ourselves."
But Animal rights group PETA on Friday argued the new zoo shouldn't be celebrated.
"Even under the best circumstances at the best zoo, wild animals suffer tremendously, both physically and mentally, from the frustration of life in captivity, and they often display neurotic behaviour, such as incessant pacing, swaying and bar-biting," spokeswoman Emily Rice said in a statement.
The zoo is committed to supporting Australian and international conservation efforts, housing a number of endangered species from around the world.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the zoo's mission is to "respect our environment (and) protect endangered species".
Harrison Meek, 11, was one of 12 "mini zookeepers" chosen to help open the zoo.
The dozen young animal enthusiasts were chosen to travel around the world to help bring animals to Sydney Zoo.
Harrison said his favourites were gorillas, orangutans and whales - though there won't be any of the latter at the new zoo.
Zoos are important "so that we can learn about animals and learn how to respect them," Harrison told AAP on Friday.
Sydney Zoo last year reached an out-of-court agreement with Taronga Zoo over its name.
Taronga had launched legal action in the Federal Court arguing the new zoo's name could cause confusion with its own facility on Sydney Harbour.
Australian Associated Press