Saturday, August 24, 2013

Melbourne Zoo

I haven’t been to a zoo since the boys were fairly young. This may explain why about 97% of the people at Melbourne Zoo were pushing a stroller, or holding a little one by the hand.
I had gone in hopes of being immersed in local flora and fauna, but this was not quite the ticket.  Frankly I found the zoo a little sad. To their credit, they have done a lot with a relatively small amount of land. Also, I expect they are underfunded, which is why there are so many signs around the zoo requesting donations to save animals "from extinction”. If you are in CBD you can take the tram right there, or there is also a train stop.

I started with the Elephant Walk, which may have been a mistake, since elephants and relatively small spaces don’t mix well. They borrowed a page from Disney in an attempt to recreate a ‘village’ around the elephant enclosures, but it didn’t quite come off right (it probably looks a lot better to a 7-year-old) and just looked a little decrepit. There is a very large male with long (broken) tusks who is by himself in a sort of depressing space, and he has a long tubular object hanging on a rope that he can roll back and forth on his trunk, which will eventually cause a treat to fall out. Once it does, he scoops it up off the dirt with end of his trunk and starts all over again. Unfortunately he just seemed really bored and a little neurotic. Other adult elephants were in another enclosure with multiple young ones. I couldn’t help thinking of the happy elephants up in northern Thailand, who work with their trainers all day (with said trainers being completed devoted to the big beasts) and can seen painting paintings or kicking a soccer ball into a goal.

Moving on to some of the exhibits I liked better, it seemed that the orangutans got relatively large spaces (just a family of 3 in a very big enclosure) but they are sort of a cornerstone of the zoo’s save-animals-from-extinction campaign so that may be why they have a nicer space.  

I tried my first pie at the zoo. I guess that was a mistake since the chicken was dry and the crust heavy. Pies are sort of big here, and I am sure they come in a range from terrible to really terrific. Basically a pie has some type of meat (or chicken) filling and something that needs to strive to be a flaky crisp crust.

The aviary is nice. I guess I like spaces where you can walk in near the animals and you don’t notice the enclosures as much. There is a butterfly house, but it is tiny and was mobbed with people as well as very heated.
Overall, unless you have one or more little ones that you are looking to get outside in a sort of ‘structured’ outing, I would probably take a pass on the Melbourne Zoo.

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