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Werribee Open Range Zoo

Updated on January 28, 2017

Cheetah At Rest

Inkosana, born 2003.
Inkosana, born 2003. | Source

The Animals Of Werribee Open Range Zoo

Werribee Zoo is a large area of open scrub, about 550 acres, to the West of Melbourne, in the state of Victoria. It is situated on the Werribee River, and was opened in 1983. Prior to that, the land was used for agistment by the Melbourne Zoo.

The main theme at Werribee is African plains animals, including cheetah, rhinoceros and addax, although there are a few animals from other parts of the world. There is also a large enclosure for an endangered species, the Eastern Barred Bandicoot, which has been saved from the brink of extinction.

A safari tour is included in the admittance cost. The tour takes around three quarters of an hour, and circles through the open field areas where many animals live. If you ever visit, the safari tour is a must do!

All images in this lens are copyright by me, Snakesmum, unless otherwise stated.

The Main Entrance

Entrance  Gates
Entrance Gates | Source

Entrance To Werribee

Unfortunately, there were alterations in progress on our last visit, so you can't see the right hand side of the entrance. On my next visit, hopefully it will be finished, and I'll have an updated photo to post.

Eventually, there will be more car parking, and a cafe outside the entrance, and much more. We're all looking forward to it, especially the faster ticketing! Sometimes the queues can be quite long on the weekends and school holidays.

Below, you can see a picture of the completed new entrance.

New Entrance, Werribee Zoo, Victoria.
New Entrance, Werribee Zoo, Victoria. | Source

The Gorilla

One of the first exhibits you'll find inside the gate is the gorilla enclosure.

There are three male gorillas in the enclosure, although we could only see two of them. This is the best photo we were able to get, as he wouldn't turn around and look at us.

In the wild, Gorillas are found in the Congo, Gabon, Angola, Cameroon, and several other countries. These animals are on the critically endangered list, and their habitat is constantly being eroded by mining and logging. They are also hunted for bush meat, and can also be attacked by the ebola virus.

Gorillas are related to chimpanzees and also to humans. They are reputed to have a sense of humour, and are intelligent animals.

A Gorilla at Werribee.
A Gorilla at Werribee. | Source
Wild African Cats
Wild African Cats

African wild cats on DVD. Beautiful photography and scenery.


Helmeted Guineafowl

The birds in the photo are helmeted guinea-fowl, and they wander freely around the grounds of the zoo. There are fifteen birds in the flock. If you look closely at the picture, you can see a couple of half-grown chicks.

The helmeted guineafowl is found in many areas of Africa, principally in the Sahara. Sometimes, the hens are not particularly good mothers and wander off, deserting their nests. The flock here are protecting their young, and will not tolerate visitors getting too close.

Guinea Fowl.
Guinea Fowl. | Source

The Safari Tour Bus

Tour bus.
Tour bus. | Source

This photo actually shows only the first section of the bus. The one we were in had three sections, and while on the tour, we passed a bus with four sections.

The buses are open sided, where the windows usually are, which makes for great picture taking, but isn't so good on a hot and dry dusty day such as on our visit. Once there are animals to watch, you don't think about anything else, though.

American Bison

Bison. | Source

The first animals we met on the safari tour were the American bison. There are only three of them in the enclosure, and these animals are listed as "near-threatened" on the red list.

Bison were almost hunted out of existence in the nineteenth century, and today are found in only a fraction of their previous numbers, mostly in US national parks.

The bison were a little way away from the bus, so the photo is a little distant.

Photo Credit for the Inset

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Przewalski Horses

Przewalski Horses
Przewalski Horses | Source

Przewalski Horses once were common in Asia and Europe, but in the wild, were classed as extinct in the 1960s. One wild animal was found after this, and captive bred animals were released into the wild, so that nowadays this horse is listed as critically endangered. There are more animals in wildlife parks and reserves than in the wild.

The Przewalski Horses are thought to be untamable. They can be very aggressive.

Photo Credit for the inset

Scimitar-horned Oryx

Oryx | Source

These animals look as if they could do you a very nasty injury with those horns; not surprising that they are called Scimitar-horned Oryx!

Unfortunately, there are none of these animals left in their natural environment, although they were once common in Africa. They lived on dry plains, and arid desert country.

I think they are beautiful animals, and hope that one day they can be re-introduced into the wild.

Dromedary Camels

Dromedary Camels
Dromedary Camels | Source

These animals are certainly not extinct, in fact they are something of a pest in the Australian bush!

They are great survivors, and can go for long periods of time without food and water, as they are capable of storing it in their humps.

Camels are native to North Africa and the Middle East, and have been domesticated for thousands of years. They can live for about 45 years.

The two in the photo certainly look very contented. If a camel is in a temper, or just plain doesn't like you, it may spit a nasty lump of chewed cud at you!

If you've ever been really close to a camel, you'll notice that they have beautiful eyelashes. These protect their eyes from desert sand storms. We should have such eyelashes!

Ostrich. | Source


Ostriches come from the African continent, and are related to our native emu, and also to cassowaries, rheas and the kiwi. They are a very large bird, and can be dangerous, as a kick from its powerful legs is capable of causing serious injury.

The ostrich in the photo was very vocal at being disturbed by the safari bus, and took itself away from us just moments after the picture was taken.

Ostrich feathers are very soft and fluffy, which makes them useful to humans, so they are farmed and are not an endangered species. I think I'd rather they were all running free in the wild.


Have you done your bit for conservation today?


Giraffe | Source

The giraffe is one of the iconic animals of the African savannah country. It is currently under threat from poaching and loss of habitat.

The animals are beautiful, and an adult stands about 5 metres in height. Even a newborn can be 2 metres tall! Giraffe generally browse on trees and eat up to 75 kg of food each day.

When we drove through their paddock, the giraffe were waiting for their food to arrive.


Zebra | Source

Zebra share their enclosure with rhino and giraffe, also some antelope. There is an antelope in the group of zebra in the photo.

I don't know which of the several species the animals here are, but they are a very healthy looking group.

While were were in this paddock, the rhino was just given some hay, as were the zebras. One zebra decided that the hay the rhino had was better than his pile, so very bravely went over and stole some!

Fortunately, these animals are not endangered in the wild at the moment.


Hippopotamus | Source

Did you know that the hippopotamus is responsible for more deaths in Africa each year than any other animal? They are to be treated with the utmost respect, as they are very territorial and can be extremely aggressive.

These animals are classed as vulnerable in the conservation red list. Although they do not have horns, they are still hunted for ivory; their teeth.

When we came through their enclosure at the end of the safari tour, there were only bubbles showing in the water - the hippo came up after we'd gone through. Just as well there were others basking in the sun on the water edge in the outer enclosure. They were so still, when one got up and moved around, one gentleman near me said "I thought they were statues"!

Improve Your Wildlife Photography (Improve Your Photography Book 3)
Improve Your Wildlife Photography (Improve Your Photography Book 3)

This is a book I definitely should read, as I'm no photographer. :-)

Kaidi. | Source


I love the big cats, so was a bit disappointed that they were quite a way back in their enclosure, and I was unable to get a photo. At least they were visible, and not hiding behind the bushes!

Werribee Zoo's two cheetahs are brothers, Inkosana and Kaidi, and they are eleven years old. They were born in 2003.

These animals are another which is vulnerable in the wild, due to hunting and habitat loss. It would be shameful if there were no more cheetah.

Cheetah are the fastest land animals in the world, reaching speeds of over 100 km per hour. They can only run in short bursts, and usually their hunts are at speeds of less than 75 km per hour. They were possibly used as hunting animals by the ancient Egyptians.

2013: Sadly, the female cheetah in the photo has had to be euthanized due to illness.

African Wild Dogs

African wild dogs
African wild dogs | Source

The African wild dog is a very sociable animal, usually, but when we walked past their enclosure, a sign was up saying that they had been fighting that morning. Apparently, there were some minor injuries, and keepers were keeping an eye on the situation. We couldn't see any signs of aggression or injury, and all the animals were lying or strolling quietly about.

The red list has this species shown as endangered.

The wild dog always lives and hunts in a group, preferring fresh meat to scavenged food.


Meerkats | Source

Meerkat Family

The three in the photo were lying about enjoying the sun when we went past their pen - some animals have a really easy life!

Usually, at least one meerkat will be on guard, on high ground, keeping watch for predators while the rest of the group are feeding or resting. They live in family groups, with a female head. Generally, there will be about fifteen in the group.

Once when visiting a zoo, I was lucky enough to be able to feed a meerkat some mealy worms. They are an amusing little animal, and I've always liked them. They became very popular after the TV show "Meerkat Manor".

Photo Credit for the inset

A Few More Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Leopard tortoises soaking up the sunA species of antelope, but I'm not sure which.The rhinoceros, but not a great photo - sorry!The hippopotamus pool. If you look very carefully, in the centre, under the log, you can see the hippo just surfacing.More hippos, this time standing up.Giraffe watching the food truck coming
Leopard tortoises soaking up the sun
Leopard tortoises soaking up the sun | Source
A species of antelope, but I'm not sure which.
A species of antelope, but I'm not sure which. | Source
The rhinoceros, but not a great photo - sorry!
The rhinoceros, but not a great photo - sorry! | Source
The hippopotamus pool. If you look very carefully, in the centre, under the log, you can see the hippo just surfacing.
The hippopotamus pool. If you look very carefully, in the centre, under the log, you can see the hippo just surfacing. | Source
More hippos, this time standing up.
More hippos, this time standing up. | Source
Giraffe watching the food truck coming
Giraffe watching the food truck coming | Source

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    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Agreed, Alastar, the open range zoos are better than cages, and fortunately, most zoos now have gone over to natural habitat type pens. Our tigers at Melbourne Zoo are sometimes very difficult to spot when they are hiding in the bamboo clumps. Thanks for visiting.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 3 years ago from North Carolina

      Snakesmum I really did enjoy reading about the Weeribee Open Range Zoo. Maybe over here we call them Natural Habitats. The largest one in the world isn't to far from here at Asheboro. You sure have some cool African animals and others there down under...including our Amer Bison! Speaking of the Gorilla that wouldn't turnaround for you, one at Asheboro turned my way with a look that said "please give me some privacy." Heavens though, these open places are sooo much better than the tiny cages most zoo animals had to suffer in in the past.

    • Stephanie36 profile image

      Stephanie 4 years ago from Canada

      These are some great animal photos. I love open concept much better for the animals.

    • profile image

      ConvenientCalendar 4 years ago

      It is great to see animals that are happy in a zoo!

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      It's nice to look at uncaged animals. I can appreciate a zoo like this where they are able to live naturally. Thanks for sharing.

    • renewedfaith2day profile image

      renewedfaith2day 4 years ago

      We have one or two of these "open range" parks in Texas. I like them much better than traditional zoos (but we like those too.)