Zoo education staff, 1970s
Melbourne Zoo's education program began in 1969, with 2900 visitors in its first year. This program was one of the most innovative in the world at the time. The Zoo's education department has developed over the past 43 years and is now recognised as one of the best in the world.
The development of education at Melbourne Zoo coincided with significant changes to the zoo. Dr Alfred Dunbavin Butcher had been on the Zoo Board since 1947. His appointment to Chairman in 1962 came at a time when the Zoo was experiencing a low point in its history.
By the 1960s the expectations of zoos had changed and the Zoo was struggling to stay afloat. Recognising that the brick and bar enclosures distressed the animals and were no longer what the public wanted to see, Dr Butcher instigated the replacement of these enclosures with ones that resembled the natural habitats of the animals. This was the beginning of Melbourne Zoo becoming a 'zoo without bars'.
During Dr Butcher's time as Chairman, the Lion Park with its elevated walkway was built - a world first. Innovations such as the walk-through Butterfly House and changes to the Great Flight Aviary were also created under the guidance of Dr Butcher. Not to be left out, a tree-top enclosure was built for the monkeys, with zoo visitors able to view the animals at tree-level.
The transformations which occurred during this period were instrumental in shaping the Zoo's future direction as an education and conservation organisation.
150 years Melbourne Zoo, Zoos Victoria, Bounce Books, 2012
Melbourne Zoo: Acclimatisation to Conservation, Mark Kellet, Australian Heritage Magazine, 2009.
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.