Dubbo's Margaret Bourne has walked the Taronga Western Plains Zoo circuit "almost every day" for the past eight years, and a forced break couldn't dim her appreciation for the spot.
She was ready at the gates on Monday when they were swung wide for the first time since the attraction temporarily closed due to COVID-19 in March.
The keen walker and Zoo Friend said it was just a lovely place to walk.
"I started in 2012 as a way to lose weight," she said.
"I go almost every day around the zoo, unless I'm away. Some days I go with friends, sometimes I go by myself."
Mrs Bourne continued walking six or seven kilometres a day while the zoo was closed, but the scenery was not the same.
She was pleased to explore the zoo and gave a big tick of approval to The Waterhole, the cafe at the half-way point completed while the gates were closed.
"[The zoo] is looking beautiful," she said.
"I stopped for a coffee at The Waterhole, it's a lovely spot, the meerkats are there and you can sit and watch."
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Zoo director Steve Hinks recommended the new area.
"Right next to the cafe... we've got a beautiful new meerkat exhibit so you can sit there and eat your burger and chips, and your coffee... and have the meerkats greedily watching on," he said.