When I was growing up, Werribee Open Range Zoo didn’t exist. Besides opening in 1983, it was waaaay over the other side of town, so it may as well have been on the moon to me. Now that I am living on the western side of the city, last year I had the opportunity to see it for myself. And I was pretty impressed by it all.
The Zoo houses a relatively modest number of animals, and tries to replicate an African safari feel through the park. There are bus rides through the park, taking about half an hour to complete. The bus ride takes you “out to the plains and savannah”, an area of the zoo you can’t reach by foot. It is a worthwhile excursion from the main body of the zoo grounds.
At the time I went there, the lion cubs were just getting adventurous in their enclosure. They had their public debut about a month before, and were growing in confidence. The main viewing area of the lion enclosure had an old-school Jeep placed through a protective perspex sheet, so kids could climb on one side while the lions could climb on the other. The perspex sheet allowed excellent photograph opportunities, as there was no fence links to get in the way. I recommend going early to see the lions, as they are at their most animated earlier in the day.
The gorilla enclosure was also impressive, however you are positioned quite a distance away from them. If you are going to photograph the gorillas, I suggest a long lens. This was the location for the famous Hamish and Andy prank, which got some people more than a little upset.
Other areas I really enjoys were the hippo enclosures, the giraffes and the meerkats. As you can see from the images, the day we went was sunny without being blisteringly hot. A little bit of cloud cover made for a great day in a place with not much shade.
You can find out ore about the Werribee Open Range Zoo at their web site, including opening hours and ticket information.