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Melbourne Zoo

Melbourne Zoo is located in Victoria, Australia and is the oldest zoo in Australia having opened in 1862.

It is operated by Zoos Victoria who also operate Healesville Sanctuary and Werribee Open Range Zoo. They receive funding through the state government in Victoria.

The zoo has established sister zoo relationships with Manila Zoo, Port Moresby Nature Park and the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre. They work with these zoos on improving welfare of the animal's in their care and to provide education to local communities.


Keeper Kids

Kids can have a go at being zookeepers, veterinarians, horticulturalists and works staff in this interactive play space.


Built during 1878 in England and bought to Australia in the 1880s this carousel was permanently installed at Melbourne Zoo in 1963. Kids can now take a ride on this carousel when they visit the zoo.

Wiggles Frog Disco

At the Wiggles Frog Disco kids can dance along with popular Australian children's entertainers, The Wiggles, while learning about the threatened corroboree frog.





Year Opened


Land Size

22ha (54acres)

Number of Species


The Amazon Bird Aviary at Melbourne Zoo


The oldest zoo in Australia Melbourne Zoo first opened its gates on October 6 1862.

Originally the animals lived in the botanic gardens and then they moved to the ‘Richmond Paddocks.’ These were opposite the gardens on the edge of the Yarra river. It was discovered these paddocks were too damp for the animals. As such the Royal Park site was provided by the City of Melbourne.

Initially the zoo was set up to acclimatise domestic animals after they had travelled from overseas. People saw these as sources of food and income so wanted to introduce them to Australia.

The zoo was modeled on London Zoo. Gardens were the main feature as only a few native Australian species and monkeys were on display at the time.

When Albert Le Souef was made director in 1870 this changed. He acquired monkeys, bears, tigers, lions and other exotic animals to go on exhibit. These animals originally lived in cages previously used by circuses before the building of wooden houses, bear pits and aviaries.

As the zoo became a popular meeting spot for visitors picnic grounds were added and the gardens improved.

Up until 1881 no entry fee was charged. In 1881 this changed to providing fuding so development could continue. The entry fee meant that elephants and orangutans were added to the collection that year. Later hippos, bison, zebra and giraffe joined the collection.

One of the zoo’s showpieces was its collection of Australian natives. These included habitats for platypi and koala.

The 1890s brought a new style of exhibition. Cages made of brick and fronted with bars became popular at the zoo. To this day a cage in this style stands at the zoo to serve as a contrast to the modern habitats now at the zoo.

During the 19th century the zoo’s carousel was built. It still remains as the only reminder of the zoo’s fun fair that entertained visitors for many years.

Up until 1961 elephants were giving rides around the zoo.

Alfred Dunbavin Butcher led a modernisation program that continues today in his time as chairman from 1962-1987. The first exhibit established was the Lion Park. In later stages of the plan the Arboreal treetops walkway, the great flight aviary and the Butterfly house, which is now named in his honour, were added.

In the 1980s a master plan was created with the aim to divide the zoo into bio-climatic zones which would immerse visitors in the animals habitat. Animals that share habitats in the wild now live near each other at the zoo. This includes the African rainforest where mandrills, pygmy hippos and gorillas live in nearby habitats.

Dr Butcher went on to create the zoo school during 1969. In 1980 he also established Zoo friends.

In 2012 Melbourne Zoo turned 150. This was commemorated with a set of stamps issued by Australia Post and a number of events.

During 2014 Melbourne Zoo opened the first stage of their lion gorge exhibit. This was followed by stage 2 in 2018.

Melbourne Zoo

Sumatran tiger exhibit in the Lion Gorge Habitat

Star Animals

Queenie the elephant

Queenie the Asian elephant lived at Melbourne Zoo for 40 years giving rides to kids. Unfortunately in 1944 she crushed her keeper. Late in 1994 the zoo chose to put her down due to a food shortage during the war. Her life has been turned into a children’s picture book.

Main Exhibits

Wild sea

Wild sea opened in December 2009 and cost $20 million. The area is home to little penguins, Australian pelicans and seals. The exhibit also houses fish and fiddler rays along with a

Baboon lookout

Baboon lookout opened in September 2011 and is home to the zoos baboon family. The habitat was built at a cost of $1.2 million

Orangutan sanctuary

The orangutan sanctuary at Melbourne zoo is home to the Sumatran orangutan family and features elevated boardwalks for an up-close experience and a visitor centre with games, sculptures and viewing platforms.

The orangutan sanctuary features a number of interactive elements that educate you on these intelligent creatures. This space also includes the zooperkmarket where people can scan items and see whether they use palm oil. To produce this substance swathes of rainforest are cut down removing places for the oranguatans to live.

You can help this cause from home by e-mailing companies to demand action relating to labelling palm oil and using certified sustainable palm oil.

Trail of the elephant

Trail of the elephant is a multi award winning habitat that takes visitors into an Asian village setting. The area is home to the zoos asian elephant family.

Nearby to this is the Asia trail where tigers and otters live.

Gorilla Rainforest

The Entry to this habitat is a walk-through enclosure home to ring-tailed lemurs where you can meet them up close. This exhibit allows you to enter their space and play with them. Once through here you discover the zoo's gorillas and pygmy hippos in their habitats.

Following these you journey up and boardwalk to see monkey's high in the treetops with a range of gibbons, colobus, tamarins and other monkeys housed here.

Growing Wild

Kids can meet meerkats and patrol for danger with them or climb into the shell of a giant tortoise. This area is split into 3 zones ground, water and trees. The area connects kids with nature to foster a love for animals.

Main Trail

The main trail winds through the zoo taking in a range of habitats which are not part of other defined zones. Along the trail you can see platypus, visit the reptile and frog houses, see red pandas, view the historic amazon aviary and get up close to the zoos giraffe and zebras. At the top of the zoo you can view tapirs and peccaries.

Australian Bush

The Australian bush loop introduces you to iconic local species such as koalas, wombats, Tasmanian devils, kangaroos and emus. Also on this loop is the great flight aviary. This massive aviary features three distinct ecosystems, the rainforest, woodlands and wetlands. A range of birds are present in each.

Lion Gorge

Lion Gorge is the home of Melbourne Zoo's predator species. It includes a bachelor group of lions, African wild dogs, snow leopards, brown nosed coati and Tasmanian devils. It also features a range of reptiles and insects in the digest-ed building.

Photo Credits:

Copyright. The Animal Facts


Melbourne Zoo Website

Culture Victoria, A Zoo icon: Queenie –

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