Werribee Open Range Zoo
|Location||Werribee, Victoria, Australia|
|Land area||225 hectares (560 acres)|
|Major exhibits||Hippopotamus, lion, zebra, giraffe, meerkat, ostrich, gorilla, African wild dogs, numerous antelope, rhinoceros, and Australian animals|
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.
Visitors to the zoo can take a bus tour, which normally lasts 35–40 minutes, multiple times a day, and takes up to 140 people per bus. The tour includes animals such as the hippo as well as animals of the grassland, such as zebra, waterbuck, giraffe, ostrich and rhinoceros, as well as the camel and the oryx.
The zoo has 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: the Pula Reserve Walking Trail which focuses on African animals, including lions, vervet monkeys, cheetahs and meerkats, and the Australian Journey Walk, which focuses on Australian animals, like the koala, emu and kangaroo as well as the cassowary.
There is a Learning Centre, which teaches more about the history and geography of animals in their environments.
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 cost to the taxpayer as the reason they were postponed.
In 2011, Werribee Zoo gained three male western lowland gorillas from Melbourne Zoo. These consist of an adult silverback and his two sons. The new public display gorilla habitat is a 10,000 m2 (2.5 acres) sanctuary that features wide-open spaces, climbing structures and indoor facilities. This new facility 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.
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.
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