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Rabu, 25 Januari 2012

Article : The Melbourne Zoo a Tap To Nature


“Welcome to Melbourne Zoo, a window to the world’s wildlife. There’s always something new to discover & enjoy” 
(Melbourne Zoo, 2011)

Author : Andi Windah


If you are in need of multidimensional spot that provides opportunities to get back in touch with nature for recreation, education and conservation somewhere in Australia, Melbourne Zoo is definitely a great site to visit. Melbourne Zoo is often claimed by many as “highly popular tourist attraction” or “at the top list of affordable recreational facilities” (Adamson & Butler, 1999; Frost, 2011 ; Ryan & Saward, 2004) due to the concept of the modern zoo in which visitors actually gain knowledge about wildlife and conservation rather than just being entertained. The zoo is one of international tourist itineraries in Australia which is linked to Healesville Sanctuary and Werribee Open Range Zoo. The three are working together as “great zoos that make up Zoos Victoria” (Evans & Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens, 2003 - 2008 ).Melbourne Zoo exhibits a symbolic sample of the world’s fauna and flora in a series of ecological habitat zones. It is also home for more than 320 species of animals from all over the globe.
Picture 1. Main entrance at Melbourne Zoo - Source: (Bros, 2011)

However, this zoo is not merely a collection of animal. Melbourne Zoo simply boasts various interesting programs and events which guarantee that no visitors will feel that their experience is waste of time. This “resemblance of Noah’s Ark” (Frost, 2011 )  programs cater for people from all ages, children even adults can involve actively in the conservation program, get a grip of ecological knowledge as well as taste a recreational experience. Owing to that, numerous remarkable reviews have been accepted by this Royal Charter granted zoo from its local visitors who are enjoying “highlight of Melbourne Trip” or “great family day out” there. An international visitor from Germany even entitled this zoo as “schönster zoo, den ich jemals gesehen habe!”  which means “ the most beautiful zoo I have ever seen“ (TripAdvisor, 2011). Hence, as confirmed by Adamson and Butler, (1999) it “provides with a window into natural world that is otherwise inaccessible”, undoubtedly, the zoo is an excellent shot for you to come closer to nature .


Being a part of Australian Zoos which impressively gained 8 million international and local visits in total as well as a key participant in international zoo policy making, Melbourne Zoo is the oldest zoo in Australia and now one of the world’s finest (Courcy, 1995 ; Frost, 2011 ). 

Melbourne Zoo was established on 6 October, 1857 by Zoological Society of Victoria (ZSV) and initially known as a zoological garden which aimed to serve “both for the purpose of science and for that of affording the public the advantage of studying the habits of the animal creation in properly arranged zoological garden” (Courcy, 2003 ).

Picture 2. Zoological Garden tram entrance in 1890 - Source : (The Tramway Museum Society of Victoria, 1973)

In the beginning, ZSV received a 30 acre land grant in north side of the Yarra River for the garden’s location. Nonetheless, the site was too swamped and cold for the animals. The garden was moved to Royal Park in 1862 then has remained as the zoo’s present site. The garden’s early wildlife collections began with donation from its members. In order to please the crowds, the zoological committees also purchased some flora and fauna collections from captains who ship back from South Africa, India and Ceylon. However, due to lack of skilled labours in zoology and “amateurism” (Courcy, 1995 ) the zoological garden was not fully adopted any feature of modern zoo until 1870. 

Picture 3. Melbourne Zoo’s keeper were feeding Hippopotamus in 1920 – Source : (Museum Victoria, 2006)

In 1890s, the zoo began to build new exhibits for native and “exotic wildlife” (Melbourne Zoo, 2011e), such as elephant’s trail, in addition to special sections of facilities. Over four decades, the modernisation programs became the zoo’s ongoing mission. Due to this continuous effort, Her Majesty the Queen entitled the zoo with a Royal Charter in 1977. Since then, Melbourne Zoo has been constantly evolving to provide state-of-the-art conditions for animals and create inspiring experiences for its visitors.


It is widely known that Australian animals, for instance Kangaroos, Koalas, Wombats, Emus, Echidnas and Platypus, can be seen in most Australia's animal sanctuaries and zoo parks. However, not all of them exhibit native species which are uncommon such as Tree Kangaroos and Corroboree Frogs. Melbourne Zoo is a home to all of “Aussie’s icons” animals. It is also one of those rare zoos in Australia that has the exceptional species on display (Melbourne Zoo, 2011e). Some of the species are presented in their natural habitats and also, where possible, have been able to making actual contact with visitors. 

Tree Kangaroo 

(Dendrolagous goodfellowi buergersi)
Tree Kangaroo is an interesting clan of Australian animals. It is a part of Kangaroo family that has returned to live up in trees. Dendrolagus, the name given to this macropod genus, is derived from Greek words which mean tree (dendron) and hare (lagos).

Picture 4. Tree Kangaroos in Melbourne Zoo arehaving close encounter with visitor – Source : (Usher, 2007) 

Bennett’s Tree Kangaroo and Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo are Australia’s two species of Tree Kangaroos which live only in the tropical rainforests of North Queensland. Both species are the last survivors of a group of tree kangaroos (Gondwananet, 2010).

Corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne corroboree)

Corroboree Frog is one of amphibian species that considered as “Australia’s most iconic” frog and the “most visually spectacular” (The Murray Catchment Management, 2011) genus in the world due to its colourful with well-defined black and yellow markings skin.
Picture 5. Corroborre Frog – Source : (Melbourne Zoo, 2011d)

Melbourne Zoo is one of two zoos in Australia that boasts this tiny Southern Corroboree Frog (Hampp, 2006). This frog is only found in considerately small region of New South Wales. Over the last three decades, Corroboree Frog has suffered major declines and range contraction.
Picture 6. Corroboree frogs shelter in the palms – Source : (Scala, 2008)

Melbourne Zoo also boasts endangered species such as Gorillas and Sumatran’s Tigers which some of them were successfully bred in the zoo. It is one of the Melbourne Zoo’s participations in an international cooperative effort of zoos around the world to maintain the population of endangered species throughout breeding program (Evans & Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens, 2003 - 2008 ).


Melbourne Zoo takes a significant role in preserving this most endangered species. The zoo is currently supporting two tiger conservation programs in Asia. (Evans & Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens, 2003 - 2008 ).

Picture 7. Tiger cubs with their keeper in Melbourne Zoo – Source : (Butcher, 2006)


Mzuri, the first gorilla ever born in Australia, was successfully bred in Melbourne Zoo. Mzuri is a part of Melbourne Zoo’s involvement in Western Lowland Gorillas program, a breeding project that involves 100 zoos around the globe. 

Picture 8. Yakini, a Melbourne Zoo’s Gorilla – Source :  (Ham, 2009)


Melbourne Zoo is available to visit every time in year, as the zoo opens 9 am to 5 pm daily. It will extend the visiting hours in several particular evenings in January, February and March due to Zoo Twilights program. 


 Table 1: General admission fee of Melbourne Zoo – Source : Melbourne Zoo, 2011.


Melbourne Zoo will fascinate you with a handful of fascinating programs and occasions. The zoo encompasses wide variety of fauna and flora attractions along with wildlife encounters. Similarly, it also highlights some adventurous events which allow you to taste a bite of natural experience.

Butterflies House is at the first list of Melbourne Zoo’s top attractions. The house is home to around 400 native species from Australia’s tropical and subtropical regions. Sets up in

Asian Rainforest Park, the house’s temperature is kept at about 28 degrees year-round in order to create pleasant environment for the butterflies.  Here, you will be amazed by hundreds of colourful butterflies simply flying around and resting among flourishing plant.

Picture 9 & 10. Butterflies at Melbourne Zoo – Source : (McIntyre, 2009)

Moreover, if you are lucky enough, this fairy like creatures may even sit on your heads or land on your hands. Furthermore, you can also participate in Melbourne Zoo’s butterfly conservation campaign by planting local vegetations that served as butterfly’s food source (Evans & Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens, 2003 - 2008 ).

Likewise, The Trails of Elephants is another top attraction in Melbourne Zoo. These trails were opened eight years ago and marked the zoo's innovative effort in describing how a wildlife species mingles with human. The Trails of Elephants are built in tropical landscape to provide a real feeling of Southern Asian Village as well as educational, entertaining and interesting experience.

Picture 11. Dokkon and Keeper Dave – Source : (Zoos Victoria, 2009)

In 2003, the trails were the recipient of Merit Award, an award for best landscape architecture in public open space and recreational facilities (Australian Institute Of Landscape Architects, 2003). Currently, Melbourne Zoo has seven elephants namely Mek Kapah, Bong Su, Dokkon, Kulab, Num-Oi, Mali and Ongard.

Another must-to-see attraction in Melbourne Zoo is Wild Sea. It is claimed as the “biggest ever exhibit” in the zoo (Hamer, 2010). This exhibit will take you on a quest from deep blue sea to ocean shore simply by offering impressive features of coast and ocean in Victoria.

Picture 12. Seal’s training session – Source : (Windah, 2011)

It is also home to seals, penguins as well as Fiddler Rays. In addition to that, the Wild Sea Exhibit also boasts in-live performances which are categorized as “marvellous family show” (Hamer, 2010) such as seals training session. Every twice in a day, you can watch seals keeper trains baby seals a new trick or move. At the same time, the training session also shows you how to help protect seals.

Landscape and Horticulture

Over the years, The Zoological Gardens are one of the best parts at Melbourne Zoo. Melbourne Zoo encloses several botanic gardens with amazing jungle settings of African and Asian rainforest areas. Aimed to provide        
Picture 13. Aussie’s Bush at Melbourne Zoo – Source : (Shaw, 2009)

visitors with an enjoyable and exciting experience, these a wide range of landscapes and horticultures become a great heritage for Australia. One of splendid examples of Melbourne Zoo’s tangible landscape is Australian Bush. Opened for public in 1966, the amazing Australian Bush Exhibits are designed to illustrate the condition of several inland regions in Australia. Those areas are probably the toughest habitat for wildlife species such as the Red Kangaroos where they have been enforced to expand survival strategies to cope with the heat and frequent lack of fodder and water.

Another prominent site in Melbourne Zoo is The Japanese Garden. Acts as one of the signatures of “sister-state relationship” (Melbourne Zoo, 2011e) between the State of Victoria and the Aichi Prefecture in Japan, this garden was built in 1991. The garden is very well-designed and flourished with features that reflect strong Japanese unique characters such as waterfall, stone lanterns and traditional summer house.

Picture 14. Melbourne Zoo’s Japanese Garden – Source : (Windah, 2011)

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