Sally prepares to leave Mogo Zoo for the last time: “They will honour my legacy and do it proud”

Ian Campbell 12 May 2020 13
Sally Padey.

Sally Padey and friend. Photo: Mogo Zoo.

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 30 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.

Up close and personal, Mogo Zoo boasts the largest collection of primates in Australia.

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

The Lemur Boys of Mogo Zoo.

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

Snow and co, Mogo’s famous white lion.

Steve Sass, head keeper and owner of On the Perch Bird Park at Tathra, agrees that Sally’s legacy is safe and Mogo will be 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 nine 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!

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 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.”

Original Article published by Ian Campbell on About Regional.

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13 Responses to Sally prepares to leave Mogo Zoo for the last time: “They will honour my legacy and do it proud”
Jill Graham Jill Graham 3:54 pm 14 Nov 19

Our family love the zoo. Good luck in your new job.

Lee Ferrari Lee Ferrari 8:15 pm 11 Nov 19

In the 90s Sally allowed a number of CIT students to do work experience with the new baby white lions. It was an amazing experience for these two young students and was very much appreciated by me as coordinator of the CIT Applied Science Work Experience Program. Thank you Sally.

Lyn Keating Lyn Keating 7:13 am 11 Nov 19

All the best Sally, you have built a fascinating zoo, Featherdale has a great reputation, I hope the future holds wonderful adventure and special times with your family.

Yo Angeles Accosta Yo Angeles Accosta 12:17 am 11 Nov 19

Absolutely love your Zoo, Is one of my favourite places to go. Wish you all the best.

Robyn Whitby Robyn Whitby 12:58 pm 10 Nov 19

Maria Maddison

Norma Paterson Norma Paterson 12:50 pm 10 Nov 19

Well done Sally. You have done an amazing job and we have thoroughly enjoyed our visits to the zoo over the years. Good luck for the future. 👍

Caroline Coe Caroline Coe 8:33 am 10 Nov 19

I remember you let me pat the lion cub you were carrying at the BBay Woolworths one evening years ago. Thank you and best wishes.

Edna Wilson Edna Wilson 1:15 pm 09 Nov 19

Louise, thank you for taking us to visit Mogo Zoo. Great zoo and beautiful animals. Hopefully get back one day. 🤗🤗👍

Debi Smith Debi Smith 11:15 am 09 Nov 19

Thank you for the joy you have given to thousands of people. Good luck for the future. Your zoo is amazing.

Annmarie J Bright Annmarie J Bright 11:01 pm 08 Nov 19

Leah Clark. We need to go here

Sue Sayers Sue Sayers 10:51 pm 08 Nov 19

Sally you have created an amazing sanctuary for people to experience. You have also raised an amazing human in your daughter. Go and enjoy now. Well deserved

Janet Ilchef Janet Ilchef 9:46 pm 08 Nov 19

I wish her all the best - it's a terrific zoo

Chris Goodrum Chris Goodrum 9:38 pm 08 Nov 19

A truly great person, Thank You!

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