Melbourne Wiki

Werribee Open Range Zoo is an African themed zoo in Werribee, about 32 kilometres (20 mi) south-west of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. It is part of the Zoological Parks and Gardens Board or 'Zoos Victoria' which also includes Melbourne Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary. It is situated on approximately 225 hectares (560 acres) and is located on the Werribee River in Werribee Park, adjacent to the Werribee Mansion. It was originally agistment land to the Melbourne Zoo.

Once visitors have entered the Open Range Zoo, they can book for and take a safari bus tour which runs according to the expected demand - usually at least every twenty minutes on weekends and public holidays. The safari tour normally lasts 45 min and takes up to 70 people, not including the guide. Photos are encouraged, but drinking, eating and smoking are not allowed on the bus. The safari tour begins and ends at the bus shelter near the Meerkat Bistro and Function Centre. The safari tour includes animals such as the hippo, animals of the grassland, like zebra, waterbuck, giraffe, ostrich, and rhinoceros, as well as the camel and the oryx. The animals are kept 'open range,' however, often young are not released until they have bonded with the mother.

There is also a simulated African village, with educational and entertaining features, including a mock scenario of an African ranger and his adventures tracking lions, and an interactive soundscape walk with simulated lion sounds surrounding the walker. There are two independent trails that visitors may follow in addition to the safari tour: the Pula Reserve Walking Trail (800 metres/approximately 40 minutes) which focuses on African animals, including lions, Vervet Monkeys, Cheetahs and meerkats, and the Volcanic Plains Walk (500 metres/approximately 30 minutes), which focuses on Australian animals, like the wallaby and kangaroo.

Educational institutions may use the Learning Centre and the zoo's educational programs to further reinforce the learning experience. Various programs are offered, and teach more about the history and geography of animals in their environments. The Learning Centre is close to the entry of the park, as are the toilets and first aid.

Giraffe from Werribee Open Range Zoo

In addition to the standard safari tour, visitors can also book various 'specialty' tours, including the open vehicle adventure or a close encounters with lions, rhinos or giraffe. Due to their popularity, it is recommended that visitors considering these tours phone in advance to make a booking.

Werribee Open Range Zoo also has an animal/adoption sponsorship program which is used for gifts and other altruistic purposes.

In April 2008 it was announced that a theme park known as African Safari World was proposed, by Warner Village Theme Parks to be built within the grounds of the zoo. On July 1, 2008 the proposed theme park plans were indefinitely postponed, the Government citing the potential $100 million dollar cost to the taxpayer as the reason they were postponed.

Cheetah at the Zoo

Westrans Altona has one bus that is dressed to advertise the zoo. The advertisement covers the entire bus, and leaves no white space or logos on the bus, apart from a small logo on the front. It can mostly be seen serving route 413 in the afternoon.

 Gorilla exhibit

The zoo is planning on getting the three retired breeding gorillas at Melbourne Zoo, as these are not shown to the public and are located in the old Gorilla exhibit. The new public display gorilla habitat will be a huge 10,000 m2 (2.5 acres) sanctuary that features wide-open spaces, climbing structures and indoor facilities. Once operational, this new facility will enable Zoos Victoria to provide best-practice care for the bachelor gorillas and confirm the organisation's reputation as a world leader in gorilla management. The Victorian Government recently gave $1.5 million to support the construction of this $2.2 million facility. Zoos Victoria Foundation is seeking public support to help raise the remaining $700,000 through the Gorillas in the West campaign.

Chimpanzees also will be coming to Werribee. Melbourne Zoo moved their chimpanzees to Taronga Zoo 10 years ago. In 2010, the Zoo made national headlines over the gorilla enclosure when comedy duo Hamish & Andy dressed in gorilla suits and played with radio controlled cars and golf clubs as part of a television special. Some viewers believed the Zoo to be attempting to con them and complained.