5 reasons for grown-ups
to visit the Melbourne Zoo
Why should young families have all the fun? There are plenty of grown-up reasons to reacquaint yourself with the Melbourne Zoo. Here are five of the best…
There’s nothing quite walking into the Melbourne Zoo after the gates have closed. If you close your eyes and ignore the streams of the blanket-carriers rushing to stake out a good spot on the lawns, you might even feel a bit like a trespasser. But in Zoo Twilight season, you’ll see this quiet procession every Friday and Saturday night from January 24 to March 8. Acts include Something for Kate, Josh Pyke, Jessica Mauboy (sold out), Babba, Katie Noonan, and legendary rockers James Reyne and Daryl Braithwaite. If you’re too lazy to pack your own picnic, there will be plenty of tasty food and drink to buy on the night, or you can pre-order a hamper from the Zoo’s catering company Liberty. There are also cocktail party packages, if sitting on a blanket cramps your style.
Those clever Zoo people have finally figured out that Melburnians never really grow up when it comes to checking out cool animals. We love the zoo – no matter how old we get, and we love the adults-only zoo tour called I, Animal. This world-first interactive experience is part multi-media tour, part theatre, part animal encounter. The zoo provides you with an iPod and headset to guide you along, using the same technology as Hobart’s innovative MONA. At the end, the humans re-group in Carousel Park and share stories (with food and booze available to buy). Just remember comfy shoes. Get tickets ($39) here.
In a novel twist on sustainable seafood dining, the Melbourne Zoo catering team is hosting a special event in the underwater seal enclosure for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. Called Message in a Bottle, the March 13 event ($135) will enlighten guests state of our seas, its inhabitants and their health – all while enjoying a progressive dinner of sustainable seafood canapes. The night starts at the new Lemur Island, moving to the seal exhibit. The voyage ends at an underwater bar with vodka tasting, Victorian grown and produced wines and a final catch of delicious seafood. This is a must for anyone who wants to learn more about ethical foods from the sea.
Ever wondered what it would be like to be a zoo keeper? Here’s your chance to work with the keepers making a meal for the orang-utans, joining them on the dizzying heights of their sanctuary roof. Participants spend a whole hour with the zoo keepers, helping the orang-utans enjoy a more enriched day. This session ($73, including zoo entry) also provides useful information on how to fight wildlife extension with the choices you make in the shopping trolley.
Remember when Zoo food (for humans at least) was a choice of soggy pies, even soggier lukewarm chips and a Paddle Pop – all at premium prices? Well times have changed. Almost everything is cooked on site these days and the food is fresh and tasty. My favourite foodie haunt at the zoo is the on site bakery (one of the first Zoo bakeries in the world). Watch the bakers at work through the window as you suck in the smell of freshly baked bread (we love the pumpkin loaf), along with pies, sausage rolls, pasties, pizzas and little gems like the Tassie Devil biscuits. Try resisting the trays of freshly-baked muffins, fairy cakes and other treats.