Werribee Open Range Zoo – Review


 


Front entrance sign to car-park

Layout

Werribee Open Range Zoo is located 35 kilometers west of Melbourne. Basically follow the Princess Freeway for about 30 minutes and then follow the signs. It’s located in the Werribee Park Precinct so be sure to leave ample time to explore all of the other great activities and attractions in this area.  

The zoo is divided into sections, each a unique wildlife experience in itself.

The Safariis where you can take a ride and see zebras, giraffes, rhinos, ostriches, bison and a large selection of hoofed animals including Przewalski’s horses.  The safari takes you around expansive fields dotted with lakes and rivers and lasts for approximately 40 minutes.
Paula Reserve Trail is the enclosure location for gorillas, lions, meerkats, cheetahs and hippopotami. The majority of this walk is on a well-maintained board walk.

Australian Journey is where you will find Kangaroos, Emus and other Australian animals.
Wirribi River Trail is a natural bush walk including a viewing platform with great views of the river and what felt like 27,000 rabbits! 

 

The park is in excellent condition, well signed with well-themed public art scattered throughout. There are three areas where food can be purchased and a gift store is located near the entry / exit of the park.

Extra Activities

Werribee Open Range Zoo offers an impressive range of “Wild Encounters” at an extra charge. For example you can go behind the scenes to learn more about the gorillas, take your own personal safari on the open vehicle adventure or even stay the night in a luxury tent overlooking the savannah.
Other activities include a village dance party, junior safari and guided tours that are all included in your entry ticket price. Times tend to be during the week for some of these activities so check the web page for more details.

Conservation Programs

The zoo sells beautiful art and jewellery pieces made by the women in the Melako Community Conservancy located in Northern Kenya. The conservancy is community run and was established to help people live in balance with nature. Over the years drought has been responsible for the death of many of the conservancy’s livestock, a major form of food and income for the villagers.  To survive, local wildlife like the rare Grevy’s Zebra and African elephant were hunted for food, putting pressure on already depleted herds.  By making and selling these pieces through the Zoo shop, the community is closer to being self-sustainable and in turn reduces their need to hunt the endangered animals of Northern Kenya.


Beads for wildlife

Stu’s Favourite Bit

For me The Safari was the highlight of my visit to this zoo. Not to take away from the rest of the park but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the animals interacting in their vast open space. The commentary provided by the driver was excellent and the conservation message was outstanding and continued throughout the entire safari. The opportunity to see the impressive range of antelopes the rare Przewalski’s horse and North American bison was breathtaking. Hearing the back stories of how they have all been brought back from the brink of extinction, reminds me why good zoos are such an important part of the world’s conservation effort.

Go HERE to see a selection of animals found at Werribee on Zoo at Stu @ the zoo TV.

Bison on safari

Stu’s review and tips

This is a fantastic zoo! From the safari to the enclosures, the Werribee Open Range Zoo has found the perfect balance of entertainment and conservation.   Yes you will see a lot of the big ticket animals like lions, gorillas and hippos. But it’s the little things that make this zoo so good.

Walking around the zoo and especially the Pula Reserve Trail is a good example of going beyond just providing good enclosures. You totally get immersed in the theming, natural beauty and the clever way in which the zoo gives you information about the animals and regions in which they live. The enclosures themselves are just an extension of your immediate surroundings, putting you right in the middle of your very own ‘Discovery Channel’ program. 

Even though you feel you are discovering things in this zoo -the way finding is very well done. From clear signage to the clever usage of totem poles guiding you to the safari station, you will find yourself doing less thinking of what to do next and more just taking it all in.

Although there are three areas that you can grab a bite to eat  around the zoo the best place to sit and grab lunch is the Meerkat Kiosk.  One side of the kiosk are glass windows looking out to a large meerkat enclosure. The food’s pretty good too. The other two eateries seem to be only open for short amounts of time or on weekends only.

It’s not every day you get this close up and personal to a cheetah.

There are heaps of well-maintained bathroom facilities throughout the zoo, including at the Safari station. Be warned that no strollers are allowed on the vehicle, so park your strollers at the section provided and try and get to the station at least 10 minutes prior to departure. It can get very crowded and I saw one couple turned away because they had a stroller. They missed that safari and had to wait for the next departure.

Construction work was underway for a new entrance to the park when I visited. It looks like more of an entrance plaza type of set up like conventional zoos. When I entered via the current / old entrance the first thing I glimpsed was a large silverback sitting on his large raised island surveying all beneath him. It was quite the entrance statement. 

 

I absolutely recommend this zoo. It encapsulates all the reasons that I started this blog in the first place. It’s everything a good zoo should be and more.

 

 © Stuatthezoo.com

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