Melbourne is fortunate to have three zoos. The more traditional Melbourne Zoo, The Healesville Sanctuary with its focus on Australian Wildlife and the Werribee Open Range Zoo that provides large open spaces for big animals.
Today, I went to Werribee with my Probus Club. What a good day it was! The weather forecast was for rain. But it remained fine all day and the animals were mostly out and on show (apart from the Gorillas who where obviously feeling the cold).
When I was young, I remember the zoo as a place where animals were kept in small cages and the animals paced around the perimeter of the cages showing what we now call captivity behaviour, or boredom. In those days the role of the zoo was to be a place where people would go to see exotic animals and marvel at their strange features.
These days, zoos have evolved to become centres for conservation, education, research and recreation. Animals are kept in enclosures that replicate something of their wild habitat. They are much more humane places and far more interesting as a result.
Werribee Open Range Zoo is about 32 kilometres south-west of Melbourne. It is situated on approximately 225 hectares (560 acres) and was originally agistment land for the Melbourne Zoo.
I found that the zoo at Werribee consisted of three sections. One main walking loop took me around many of the African exhibits with views of Low Land Gorillas, Hippos, Monkeys, Lions and a Cheetah. A second loop wound its way through some Australian animals and birds. There were kangaroos, potoroos and of course, koalas. Out on a flat, I could see brolgas (Australia’s native crane) and an aviary where they were breeding Orange Bellied Parrots. This was fulfilling the zoo’s role as a conservation centre as it is believed that there are only about 50 pairs of these birds in the wild.
The highlight of my day was to take a zoo bus tour, which lasted about 45 minutes, It took us out across the Savannah area of the zoo where animals were grazing in open land. Out on the savannah were hippopotamus as well as animals of the grassland, such as zebra, waterbuck, giraffe, ostrich and rhinoceros, as well as the camel and the oryx.
I took many photos today, but these are my better ones.