How I wish that the animal kingdom were a reflection of the dreamland in Zootopia, where a tiny fluffy rabbit can work seamlessly with a cunning red fox, seeking justice for the predators that turned savage. Or how about the amazing fairyland portrayed in Madagascar, where a long neck giraffe and a barrel-shaped hippopotamus could profess their undying love to each other, and commit to an operation to rescue the king of the jungle?
Unfortunately, the life in an African savanna is far from the utopia that the animation studios would like us to believe. It is a world ruled by food chain and survivorship, where natural instincts of camouflage and burrowing underground are essential skills to keep an animal alive. It is an ecosystem where confrontation and predatory encounter with the top of the hierarchy are daily happening that does not worth a shout.
The Werribee Open Range Zoo is perhaps the best place in the state of Victoria to experience the taste of an African adventure. Located just 30 minutes drive away from the Melbourne’s Central Business District, it is an atypical zoo where an amazing array of animals are given the unusual liberty to roam freely in wide grassy plains. There are hardly any fenced enclosures; no narrow, depressing confinements or dark steel cages that kept the animals imprisoned.
Visitors travelled in a large safari bus across the picturesque grassland. We saw gregarious giraffes and beautiful zebras grazing side-by-side in harmonious atmosphere, completely oblivious to the presence of a busload of eager tourists gaping in amazement. The 40 minutes safari bus tour was a lively experience saturated with delightful surprises, where visitors got to view exotic rhinoceroses, antelopes and bison up-close without disturbing their habitat.
We then strolled along the walking trail and took a glimpse of the African wild dogs, cheetahs, gorillas, lions, meerkats and you name it. On the day of our visit, the lion was exceptionally grumpy, the gorillas were uncooperative and refused to pose for a good shot, the kangaroos stood shyly afar, the koalas were deeply asleep beneath the shield of tree leaves, and the hippopotamuses were napping contently at the edge of the river like three giant babies.
A good trip nevertheless, and a thoroughly enjoyable adventure out of the city! We will surely be back again soon.
Open daily from 9 am to 5 pm (last entry at 3.30 pm)
Free entry for children under 16 years of age every weekend, during Victorian government school holidays and on Victorian public holidays
Family package deals and concession tickets available: click here for more information.
Click here for directions.