|Main promenade – Melbourne Zoo|
Melbourne Zoo, the oldest zoo in Australia, opened in 1862. It is a large city zoo located four kilometres from the Melbourne CBD. The main entrance is located on Elliott Avenue with ample parking provided off Poplar Road. A tram and rail entrance is also available at the back of the zoo.
The front main entrance opens up onto a long central avenue, that if followed will lead you straight through the centre of the zoo to the back tram and rail entrance. The central promenade on the main avenue is the location of the zoo carousel, gift shop, bathroom facilities and food store. Smaller loop paths run off the main avenue leading you to the themed attractions and enclosures. These are roughly themed into regional animal groups from Asia, Africa, and Australia. A sea-life themed area is located close to the central circular promenade. Food stores, rest rooms and gift stores can also be found in some of these themed areas.
The zoo is well maintained with ample shady open spaces for picnics and family activities. Lakes and landscaped rivers provide refuge to many Australian native birds and turtles that can be seen sunning themselves on logs and river banks throughout the zoo.
An extensive program for meet the keeper and animal talks are scheduled daily. Kids’ activities including Keeper Kids and Growing Wild are also provided. Free guided tours can be arranged with zoo volunteers. Wild encounter experiences can be purchased at reasonable prices – Close up encounters start at $25.00
The Lord Howe Island Stick Insect is the largest stick insect in the world and was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 2001 on an island called Balls Pyramid. Being flightless and nocturnal made this little fellow vulnerable to attack by the large population of black rats that have ravaged Lord Howe Island – but somehow at least a couple of individuals made it across 25 kilometres of ocean to this small bit of volcanic rock. There are now approximately 30 insects on Balls Pyramid.
Melbourne Zoo is researching the rare stick insect in the hope to reintroduce it back onto Lord Howe Island once an extensive rat culling program is completed on the Island. This cull will hopefully also allow the critically endangered wood hen – Australia’s third largest bird, to once again flourish on the island.
|The Lord Howe Island Stick Insect|
I think the only thing cuter than a meerkat- is its pups. Melbourne Zoo has a couple of great meerkat enclosures that allow you to get up close and watch these little guys play, dig, climb and enjoy each other’s company. I was lucky enough to see the latest additions to the zoo’s meerkat family – 5 cute playful pups.
Go HERE to see a selection of animals found at Melbourne Zoo at Stu @ the zoo TV
Stu review and tips
I have a saying – “Best remembered when long forgotten”. I say this because for this zoo it wasn’t until I left and pondered my experience that I started to appreciate the day that was. For example, the entire time I was at the sea life section, I was critical of the theming that included thongs on poles, the dark interior that felt a little claustrophobic and somewhat stark sterile sea lion enclosure. But these entirely pale into insignificance when I remember my close up experience watching a sea lion and its handlers caring interaction. When I was at the elephant’s enclosure I was frustrated that the keepers decided to feed the elephants at the opposite side of the enclosure and away from people hoping to get a glimpse of them feeding only to get an eye full of 5 elephant bottoms instead. Looking back I doubt I would have seen the caring response from a mother elephant to its baby patiently waiting to be fed if they were fed any closer to the crowd. I didn’t get some of the theming, to be honest I just didn’t like it, but I do appreciate that the zoo was ultimately trying to tell a story. A conservation story, that theme ran strongly right through the whole zoo.
|Keeper checking sea lions mouth|
I did find the signage to be a little confusing and found myself walking around in circles. To be fair the map provided at entry is perfect and a much easier option than randomly walking around looking for your favourite animals. Friends that we were with on the day, asked a good question – Why don’t more zoos provide a mobile app? I will explore this in a future post.
The zoo does get very crowded on the weekend, so turn up early if you want to park reasonably close to the main entry and avoid the crowds or take a tram or train to enter the less packed back entry. Like I always say, plan, plan, plan.
All in all this is a good city zoo with all the big ticket animals on display. The food is a little expensive but I found the whole day excellent value based on the entry price.