Thursday, June 30, 2016

Melbourne Zoo, Werribee Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary

We bought a Zoo membership when we first arrived. It got us entry into three different zoos in the area, and since it only took three visits to justify the expense (one to each zoo), it was a no-brainer to join.

See more below!

The Werribee Open Range Zoo is just 10 minutes from our house and is very impressive! Not only does it have the usual zoo set up for observing animals, but it has a massive "open range" area where animals roam freely. They have large buses that take you on a drive through this area and you really can feel like you are on safari! The giraffes and rhinos and zebras are all mingling in the same area. We got to see them up close and in much better environments that a concrete enclosure. And the bus ride is FREE everytime we go!

This zoo has impressive decor throughout the zoo to add authenticity to your animal adventure. I really love the animal sculptures at the zoo entrance. They have a large play area called Hippo Beach with water features that is a lot of fun.

My favorite feature is a Jeep cut in half. The front half is inside the lion enclosure and the back half is accessible to the viewers, separated only by that thick layer of glass. You can be sitting in the driver's seat of the Jeep and have the lion up on the hood!

What I loved most about the Melbourne Zoo is that they have one main avenue down the center with lots of smaller walking loops branching off of it. So you don't have to commit to a huge long path if you really only want to see a few favorite animals. Most kids can't handle a 3-4 hour zoo trip without melting down. How many kids have so seen in absolute wails by the time they actually make it to the tigers? This central lane is great for making the sighting seeing more manageable.

Each loop is color-coded so you can easily see which animals will be found along a path. The pathways are narrower and follow a natural direction. As a mother, I felt much less stressed about losing my children because we were all going the same direction on a rather small pathway. We saw all the animals along the way at multiple viewing sites and were able to enjoy them together. (Many years ago, I had a scary experience losing Leo when he was about 4 at Hogle Zoo. The pathways are very wide and it's easy for a young child to lose any sense of direction making it more likely for family members to lose track of each other.)

Just a few steps from our arrival we were already inside the lemur exhibit where the lemurs roam freely and will walk right up to you.

The kids had an absolute blast on the tortoise balance contraption. You have to try to balance the weight of the giant tortoise with your own body weight. It takes more than one person!

They have a beautiful Japanese Garden. It looks stunning in the summer months.

There is also a large walk through aviary with beautiful birds. And a walk through butterfly exhibit where you can be surrounded by butterflies of all colors and sizes. And it's HEATED, so it's a great place to go during the winter.

This is cool story about the stick insect thought to be extinct but now living well at Melbourne Zoo.

We finally made it over to the other side of Melbourne to Healesville Sanctuary. By this time, we'd seen our fill of animals in exhibits. We were mostly after the amazing bird show that Healesville offers. Large trained birds swooped overhead and performed all sorts of tricks! We loved it.

As usual, artistry goes into most everything in Melbourne.

Huge Goanna lizard sculpture.

Healesville also offers lots of close encounters with animals. You can pay a nominal fee to have close photo opportunities with koalas, dingos, kangaroos, echidnas, emus, and even pythons!

Henry braved the python. 

We were able to get pretty close to the emus without having to pay extra!

Zoos are amazing here! The unique animals are part of it, but really, it's the artistry put into the entire zoo path as well as the smaller walking distance that make all of the zoos so fun to visit. 

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