I love Australia, I went there multiple times and truly think that its an amazing destination to go to with kids. However while I usually write about great places to go to with children this article about Melbourne Zoo will be an exception.
To start off, unlike my daughter, I don’t like zoos. I don’t support idea of keeping wild animals in captivity for our entertainment. Yes, some species may benefit from breeding programs. Some of the animals would probably end up as dinner were they not locked up in their enclosures protected from predators. However none of them chose to live in a zoo or in an aquarium no matter the size.
But I am also a mother and mum readers will understand that we always want the best for our children. Thea adores animals and while it makes me a hypocrite and I hate myself for going there, we do visit zoos and wildlife parks.
So, what’s wrong with Melbourne zoo?
HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED
Koalas, Tasmanian Devils, wombats, echidnas, Dingo dogs, quolls, saltwater crocodiles, macropods, flying foxes, Australian magpies… These are the animals that Thea and I were expecting to see while boarding a train in Melbourne’s Central Station. I imagined those animals being housed in spacious enclosures matching their natural habitats in the wild as closely as possible. Unfortunately it was so naive of me.
It was a lovely sunny day. We were in a great mood after having delicious lunch and we both like train rides. Besides what can be better than a train ride to the Zoo in Australia for a toddler?
Unfortunately our hopes to see the above mentioned animals were shattered to pieces soon after we entered this rundown place.
What we actually did get to see in Melbourne zoo were the following: one giraffe, one zebra, two sad looking kangaroos, a dirty emu and a penguin swimming in an aquarium of the size more suitable for a goldfish. Oh and some birds which we can see plenty of in Europe for free.
Obviously the feature photo of this article is a stock photo. I simply had not a single pretty photo from Melbourne zoo to upload instead.
Staff were nice though and when asked where all the animals are they told us that they were hiding from the sun. So apparently those animals do exist however they were nowhere to be seen…
We met several other families, all looking puzzled and disappointed. The conversation would go something like ‘Hi, did you see any animals the way you came from?’ and the answer that followed ‘no, not at all, have you?’
Not seeing the animals we expected to see was disappointing. But you know what’s worse? The conditions in which those animals are kept.
A couple of times we got lost. A couple of times the dirt sand pavements lead us to dead ends.
During our walk in the birds enclosure while wading through dry bushes and dirt I seriously worried about the possibility of a black widow crawling on my head. I was trying not to think about all those other pretty looking, but nasty species that may be lurking in the bushes ready to jump at us.
Having visited Jurong Bird Park in Singapore where birds fly freely in clean and super spacious bird enclosures full of lush greenery and waterfalls, seeing such conditions for birds in Melbourne zoo was a total shock.
I really wanted my daughter to see at least some animals. So I followed the map and tried to reach the enclosures by pushing her stroller on rundown pathways. We would successfully reach the desired enclosure, however instead of the animals we’d just see a sad fenced small area with a sunburnt board with information on what animal is residing there.
Thea liked the penguin. It seemed to do its best to make out the most of this miserable situation. They had a fan inside that cave so it was good to cool down.
Okay I may have exaggerated that the penguin’s pool is more suitable for a goldfish. However it is still WAY too small for a penguin. And I don’t even know if it’s just one penguin, maybe more of them were living in that small tank.
Moreover it was so rundown. The hill covered in blueish plastic, which I am guessing was meant to be an iceberg, had peeled off. If zookeepers think that with that iceberg imitation they tricked the penguin into thinking it’s swimming in the wild, they are so wrong.
Moreover the surface of the tank was all dusty, dirty and sad to look at. Surprisingly it doesn’t look that bad in the photo.
THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE ZOO (YES, THERE WAS ONE!)
Seeing the dirty emu and two kangaroos was probably the highlight for Thea. If you can call it that way.
While my daughter enjoyed seeing the kangaroos from her picture books I just wanted to cut that wired fence and let them run away into the wild where they actually belong.
I think we visited 60% of the park. When I came to a conclusion that the other 40 % will be pretty much the same we headed towards the exit. Bought some overpriced water along the way and waved goodbye at what seemed to be the only two staff members at the park.
I don’t usually leave bad feedbacks. Even with Uber drivers, if they are not nice, I say whatever, maybe he is having a bad day. I skip ratings instead of giving them 1 star. BUT Melbourne Zoo was just mind blowing! How can it possibly have positive reviews on Tripadvisor is a total mystery to me!
Actually after posting a short review on Instagram I received a pretty aggressive message. It was from a girl who had visited Melbourne Zoo too. Basically according to her I’m evil, critical and picky. I beg your pardon, but what I saw in that zoo was pathetic. I only hope that for the sake of the animals and the visitors they have improved that zoo since our visit in February 2019.
If you’ve been to Melbourne zoo after this date, please share what you thought of it. Who knows, maybe it is worth a visit now?
However if you are looking for a really nice zoo to go to with children, go to Singapore Zoo. It is an example of what the zoo should be like and how animals should be treated. I’ve written an article about wildlife parks in Singapore and you can read it below:
Here’s a great travel guide by Lonely Planet that I recommend for your trip down under: