The state of Victoria is home to three wonderful and very different zoo experiences: Melbourne Zoo showcases a wide range of animals from all over the world; Healesville Sanctuary lets you get up close and personal with Australian wildlife, and Werribee Zoo offers an African safari just a short drive away from the city.
This year my birthday fell on a Saturday — finally, the leap year worked in my favour — and I decided I wanted to spend the day immersed in nature, and in front of amazing animals.
In the five years that we’ve lived in Melbourne, we’ve had the pleasure of visiting both Melbourne Zoo and the Healesville Sanctuary; but we’d not yet made it to Werribee.
So that’s just what we did.
Only a 30-minute drive from the centre of Melbourne, the Werribee Open Range Zoo is home to a small but impressive collection of animals from across Africa, including cheetah, camels, wild dogs, addax, gorilla, hippos, zebras, lions, and giraffes.
The biggest part of the zoo experience at Werribee is the free safari tour where you get to drive through the grassland home of many of the larger (and less dangerous) animals.
The giraffes really took my breath away. I had, of course, seen giraffes before, having been to a few zoos and sanctuaries in my time; but their habitat in Werribee felt much more natural and real than others I had been to in the past.
We got to see the animals pretty up close but were far enough away that we didn’t disturb them or make them feel too uncomfortable. They are obviously used to screeds of tourists staring at them on their drive past multiple times a day, so they just carried on about their business as if we weren’t there.
It was threatening rain the entire time we were at the zoo, but luckily it held off and we were able to enjoy our day in nature.
It’s crazy to think that such a tranquil experience exists so close to the hustle and bustle of the city centre!
Have you been to any of Victoria Zoos before? Which one is your favourite?