Feeding the animals
Melbourne Zoo food bag for public to feed the animals, c 1950s
Public Record Office Victoria
VPRS 8850/P1, unit 48
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State of Victoria
It was common practice to for zoo visitors to feed the animals from the Zoo’s early days through to the 1970s.
Visitors to the Zoo expected to be able to feed the animals as part of their zoo experience. This caused health problems and even death for some zoo animals. In 1893 an ostrich died after eating food given to it by zoo visitors.
Not all visitors to the zoo showed respect for the animals and, at times, foreign objects were thrown into the enclosures. In 1933, a hippopotamus died at Melbourne Zoo as a result of swallowing a tennis ball thrown into his enclosure. A female hippo died in the same way in 1961.
By the time bags of food, such as this one, were sold to zoo visitors, there were restrictions in place regarding which animals could be fed and what they could be fed.
Public feeding of animals at Melbourne Zoo was banned in 1963. However, it took many years for visitors to abide by the rules and some continued to feed the animals into the 1970s.
150 years Melbourne Zoo, Zoos Victoria, Bounce Books, 2012
Almost Human: Reminiscences of Melbourne Zoo, A.A.W Wilkie, Whitcombe and Tombs,1920
The Zoo's first hippos stars: William and Rosamund
A true Zoo character: Mollie
A Zoo icon: Queenie
A family favourite: Betty
Orang-utan twins: Bono and Suma
First gorilla baby: Mzuri
A Zoo first: Mali
Early attractions at the Zoo, 1893
Zoo visitors in the 1890s
Donkey and carriage rides, 1900s
Zoo memories from 1940
Train rides for children
Feeding the animals
Zoo poster, c 1950
Zoo carousel, 1970s
Zoo memories from 1980
Zoo employees, 1896
Zoo keeper, 1944
Elephant keeper, 1949
Animal superintendent, 1967
Zoo education staff, 1970s
Primate keeper, 1991
Fighting extinction: inside and outside the Zoo walls
Fighting extinction: Sumatran tigers
Fighting extinction: Asian elephants
Fighting extinction: Lord Howe Island stick insect
Fighting extinction: southern corroboree frog
Fighting extinction: eastern barred bandicoot
Outside the zoo walls: tenkile
Outside the Zoo walls: orang-utan
Outside the Zoo walls: gorilla
Melbourne Zoo – 150 years in Royal Park
Story education resources
Education Curriculum connections and classroom ideas
This story can be incorporated into learning experiences about the protection and care of the natural environment on a local, national or global level, changes in environments over time, human impact on the environment, historical issues surrounding the treatment of animals, as well as ways to take action to improve environmental issues. Curriculum connections as well as classroom ideas for grades 5-8 students are available to accompany the Melbourne Zoo and You: 150 years online story.