Last week we spent a beautiful weekday at the Melbourne Zoo!! Because it was a weekday, it wasn’t too crowded, mostly filled with school groups and families with young children. The grounds themselves were very nice and had lots of flowers around. This zoo’s big environmental push was using recycled toilet paper, so toilets and a huge toilet paper roll featured in the decor. Also, there were various elephant statues around the grounds that were decorated by various school groups in the area.
The most exciting and different section of the zoo was, of course, the Australian Bush. Koalas, kangaroos, and emus–oh my! The koalas were eating the entire time we saw them, as per usual. I could see how the Tasmanian Devil gets its name; it was pacing its cage and full of energy. Platypi are much smaller than I had thought, only about the size of a Chihuahua; it was also swimming in circles around its tank. The kangaroos and wombats weren’t that interesting to see on that particular day as they were both sleeping during our visit.
The zoo also had ‘normal’ (African) zoo animals such as giraffes, zebras, African wild dogs, and elephants. It seemed like, where safely possible, this zoo had the lowest railings and most open/natural areas for each animal that I’ve ever seen.
Birds were another main group at the zoo. Once we stepped through heavy hanging plastic doors, we were in a large, caged-roof aviary, where there was nothing separating us from the birds. Food had just been put out, so most of the birds were chowing down. The colorful parrot-looking birds are called lorikeets and they flock in all of the trees near our apartment. The first time I saw them, I was amazed at the color of these normal, wild birds.
One of my personal favorite animals to see is the pygmy hippopotamus. This hippo is only the size of a large hog. A mini version of a full-sized animal is always better than the original.
An interesting cultural thing I noticed had to do with the pressed penny machines that are always prevalent at touristy attractions. In Australian money, there are no pennies; if the cost of something does not end in a ‘5’ or ‘0,’ it is rounded up. But, pressed pennies are a tourist necessity, so they have bags upon bags of blank pennies in the machine waiting to be pressed– weird.
One new event that I had never seen at a zoo before was the transferring of animals from different locations. Apparently, it happens quite a bit with the elephants here as there were several layers of gates ready and waiting, with signs warning pedestrians of what was occurring.
Monkeys, and other primates, took up a large section of the zoo. The orangutan area was full of swings, platforms, and toys for them to play with. They seemed very active and were throwing tires around as we watched. There was a big glass wall that people could watch through with a platform next to the wall inside the enclosure. We heard later that day on the news that one of the orangutans had taken one of their toys and tried to break the glass open with it–we missed that excitement.
The lemur enclosure was different from any other monkey exhibit I’ve seen. We had to enter through two sets of air-locked doors; however, once we were inside, there were just free-roaming lemurs, no cages, no nothing. Lemurs were sitting in trees, on benches, on rocks, and we could walk right up to them– pretty cool.
We also visited the butterfly house at the Melbourne Zoo. I love butterfly houses because you are in the midst of the fluttering butterflies, but they never land on me. All other insects love me, but not the ones I want. Obviously, they don’t feel the same way about my mom; they landed all over her, including on top of her head. The butterfly houses did not only have hundreds of beautiful butterflies flying around, but also had a display showing the entire life cycle with some caterpillars and chrysalises. Overall, a great exhibit at a great zoo!