My Good Man and I were in the Grampians for a wedding on the weekend. As the following morning was clear, after a leisurely cafe breakfast we decided to walk off the overindulgence at Halls Gap Zoo. (Visiting zoos is one of the few times we are content to walk together for longer than a few minutes – most of the time there’s a lot of “come for a walk?” and the reply, from him, “have fun!”)
According to Wikipedia, the zoo was opened in the 1980s as a wildlife park; indeed, I remember visiting it in the mid ’80s with my mum and a friend from North Dakota. It’s just the kind of place overseas tourists love to visit, with lots of native wildlife to be seen up close. At that time, there was also a lot of deer, and we bought bags of food to give them. That would have been the highlight for me.
Yesterday we weren’t seduced by the promise of being able to feed the wildlife (the still-prolific deer tried to eat the map anyway), but we did enjoy ourselves, and it was a pleasant walk through the exhibits too.
At the doorway to the park stood the Peacock of Greeting, who stepped casually out of the way to let us pass. When we headed into the nocturnal house, I became quickly besotted with the Veiled Chameleon in the entrance, who was doing a super-slow-motion dance. Chameleons are several kinds of awesome: one – they’re so colourful; two – their eyes swivel around independently of each other; three – they catch their prey with a very long, sticky tongue; four – curly, whirly, tail; five – this one had a helmet. I’m sure there is yet more awesomeness to be discovered.
The Pygmy Marmosets were my favourite exhibit – they seemed to be as engaged in the act of looking at the amazing creature behind the glass as we were. They also looked disconcertingly intelligent, and as though a finger would be a welcome treat.
In the fossil house, the static displays were enhanced by the inclusion of reptile exhibits. The python, though its neck was outstretched, was quite immobile and I wasn’t even quite sure it was alive!
The walk through the open air exhibits took us into a roaming band of hungry deer, who trailed along behind as we saw wallabies, emus, a cassowary, bison, a hyper Phascogale, native quolls, Tasmanian devils, owls, corellas, parrots, Bush stone-curlews, a bustard, meerkats, red pandas, spider monkeys, antelope, Barbary sheep, and many more besides. It was well worth the visit.