Did you know that the Werribee Open Range Zoo has a long history with native grassland restoration? You may be aware that you can take a safari tour to see giraffes, zebras and other larger animals, but there is also a big focus on the basalt plains grasslands fauna and flora with display areas.
In October 2010 on my first visit as part of a grassland tour, there was a small grassland area, a nursery had been set up to collect seed for the grassy ground cover grassland restoration project and a cultivated area was ready for sowing the new grassland.
Six years later and enclosed within a predator proof fence, the grassland has taken shape and there is plenty to see. The native grassland walk leads you to the old Chirnside Woolshed. Built in 1860, the well-restored and magnificent bluestone shearing shed is impressive and worth a visit.
There is the specially designed Bandicoot Hideout, home to the critically endangered Eastern Barred Bandicoot and a few other local natives, including Growling Grass Frog, Squirrel Gliders, Fat-tailed Dunnarts and a Tawny Frogmouth. This display is in near darkness, and these night active animals may be seen moving around.
There is also access to the Werribee River via the Wirribi River Trail for those interested in a stroll along a boardwalk though the wetlands. Another new structure is the purpose-built facility to aid the recovery of the critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot. The facility includes an area for quarantine, a walk through exhibit for zoo visitors and a fitness aviary. The fitness aviary will provide captive-bred birds with an opportunity to build up their physical fitness, flight, foraging and social skills before being released to the wild.
I look forward to seeing a display with Plains Wanderers in the future, so I hope there are plans for one.
If you have been to Werribee Open Range Zoo a fair while ago or have never been then you may like to visit during the holidays and support the endangered species program and see what is happening in the grasslands. I really went to see the giraffes and zebras and wasn’t disappointed.