A portion of the Western Sydney Parklands is set to be transformed into a sprawling zoo after the NSW government accepted Sydney Zoo’s development proposal.

The $36 million safari-style zoo will cover 16.5 hectares of the Parklands and will feature an elevated walkway for Sydneysiders to view giraffes, Asian elephants, lions, hippopotamus, leopards, orangutans and much more. Sydney Zoo is set to be completed before summer school holidays in 2018 and according to Sydney Zoo, it will become the country’s most innovative and technologically advanced attraction as it puts “animal welfare above all considerations” and places the animals in “naturalistic settings [to] promote natural behaviours”.

“This will promote awareness and an affinity with animals, improving our educational outcomes and increasing the willingness of people to value and protect them,” says Managing Director Jake Burgess of the development.

The zoo will sit 33 kilometres west of Sydney’s CBD and is expected to contribute to the already flourishing recreational infrastructure in Sydney’s west which is home to the Eastern Creek Raceway and Wet’n’Wild.

“Over the last century, Sydney’s centre of gravity has steadily moved west, driving the need for new and expanded social infrastructure for the Western Sydney population. Sydney Zoo is set to be one of Western Sydney’s main tourism and recreation attractions and will be a source of pride for the whole community,” says Minister for Western Sydney Stuart Ayres.

Sydney Zoo will also feature an underwater glass viewing facility for aquatic life including sharks, hippopotamus and crocodiles. Picnic areas will also be scattered throughout the zoo, along with kiosks, restaurants, cafes, gardens and waterways.

The development is expected to create at least 120 full-time jobs once the facility is completed and will provide 160 jobs when construction for the zoo begins.