At the moment, thousands of animals are prowling the grounds of Sydney Zoo, just near Blacktown in Western Sydney. They probably don’t realise, but very soon they’ll have thousands of humans gawking at them. Sydney Zoo, the first major zoo to be built in the city for more than 100 years, has announced it will open on December 7.

It’s the only place in Australia that combines both a zoo and an aquarium, and thanks to a nifty safari-like design, it’s wheelchair and pram-friendly. Over the past few months the zoo’s animals have slowly been introduced to their new homes. Four lions now live there, alongside three hyenas, a few orangutans, a couple of cheetahs, some zebras, 11 chimps and 13 baboons. There’s also a reptile and nocturnal animal house – Australia’s biggest. It contains more than 20 nocturnal animal species and 40 species of reptiles, including venomous snakes, monitor lizards, frillneck lizards and a giant grasshopper.

The reptile and nocturnal animal house is one of the country’s first green-roof habitats. It’s planted with native grasses to improve sustainability, blend into the zoo’s natural landscape and provide insulation for the critters inside.

Sydney Zoo was founded by Sydney Aquarium owner John Burgess and his son Jake Burgess. They’ll be supporting conservation in Australia and abroad, as well as participating in on-site breeding programs for endangered species. The staff have worked with the local Darug people on a natural heritage program led by Aboriginal guides.

The zoo has been designed to create a safari-like experience with boardwalks, hidden barriers and no cages. It’ll have a large show arena, gift shops, restaurants, kiosks, gardens and picnic areas.

Tickets will cost $99.99 for a family of four (two adults, two children); $39.99 for adults; $29.99 for concession-card holders; and $19.99 for children aged between three and 15. Tickets are currently available online only. There will be memberships, which offer unlimited access to the zoo; free car parking; 10 per cent off food, beverages and zoo shop purchases; and discounted entry to Raging Waters (formerly Wet’n’Wild Sydney) and Singapore Zoo.

Sydney Zoo is slated to open on December 7.