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Plans for WA open range zoo unveiled

AAP logoAAP 2/11/2016 Greg Roberts

A large site in the Swan Valley near Perth has been chosen to realise Premier Colin Barnett's vision of an African-themed open range zoo featuring lions, elephants and other animals.

The 700-hectare site at Chittering on the Avon River is in a region traditionally used for farming and winemaking but will be turned into an African savanna grasslands with wild animals.

"When I came to this site two years ago, I thought 'we don't have to look any further', it is truly a unique location," Mr Barnett told reporters.

"It is remarkable, undulating land, spectacular views down the valley, rock outcrops and the Avon Valley river flowing alongside.

"I think increasingly we like to observe and see animals in their natural environments, it's a worldwide trend, that becomes increasingly difficult with large animals in zoos located in central city areas."

The zoo is intended to be a major tourist venue, similar to the African-themed Werribee Open Range Zoo near Melbourne and would also provide international wildlife conservation breeding programs.

The zoo would cost up to $100 million and be five to 10 years away, Mr Barnett said.

Mr Barnett could be voted out in next year's state election before much work is done on the new zoo.

Labor leader Mark McGowan has not criticised the idea but said on Wednesday it was the premier's `thought bubble' just before an election when he should be focused on creating jobs in a slowing economy.

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