From menagerie to conservation haven: a coffee table book connecting the human and natural worlds
Since Melbourne Zoo’s formation in 1862, it has remained an integral part of Melbourne’s cultural fabric. In its 150 years, Melbourne Zoo has evolved from providing animals as a form of novelty entertainment to an epicentre for international animal conservation and protection. In Bounce Books’ publication for the Zoo’s sesquicentenary, the transition from obscure foreign menagerie to internationally renowned conservation organisation is detailed through an extensive timeline of the Zoo’s rich historical events.
As recognition of International Be Kind to Animals Week, we want to place a spotlight on the current efforts being coordinated by Zoos Victoria to benefit both the conservation of native Australian animals and global endangered species.
Melbourne Zoo’s current landmark conservation plan contains a pledge for over $29 million until 2019 and includes both local and international projects such as breeding, recovery and conservation programs. Melbourne Zoo is protecting endangered Australian mammals, birdlife and amphibians with conservation programs for mammals such as the Eastern Barred Bandicoot, the Tasmanian Devil, the Leadbeater’s Possum and the Eastern Quoll, Birdlife such as the Orange Bellied Parrot and local amphibians such as Corroboree Frogs, Baw Baw Frogs and Spotted Tree Frogs.
As well as supporting the conservation of the animals on our own doorstep, Melbourne Zoo supports various international conservation commitments. Partnerships with the Mabuwaya Foundation in the Philippines and the Malako Community Conservancy in Kenya are striving to save the Philippine Crocodile and the critically endangered Grevy’s Zebra respectively. There is also an international grants program to provide assistance with global causes such as reducing human-lion conflict in Namibia and assisting with the protection of the Northern Sportive Lemur in Madagascar.
Melbourne Zoo was not always the conservation haven that we know today. As documented in Bounce Books’ publication celebrating the 150th anniversary of Melbourne Zoo, the Zoo of the late 19th and early 20th centuries was focused on the entertainment of the spectators opposed to the protection and welfare of the animal inhabitants. The lush and naturalistic enclosures of today stand in the place of the stark concrete blocks with metal bars and elephant rides are long gone.
While much has changed within the Melbourne Zoo’s own walls, the poor treatment of animals globally is an important conversation to have. As animals around the world face extinction due to human mistakes, Melbourne Zoo is focusing on building connections between humans and the natural world.
Bounce Books’ account of the sesquicentenary of Melbourne Zoo was curated as a collation of their 150-year history as well as a centrepiece of their anniversary celebrations. The book was sold in Zoos Victoria shops in Melbourne’s three zoos. Bounce Books’ coffee table publication tells the story of this well-loved institution through text, images and beautiful design, and celebrates the zoo’s strides forward in global conservation.