a visit to Healesville Sanctuary

I've always been unsure about zoos.  I don't like it when animals are seen as objects for entertainment. If there is a real attempt to understand the needs of wildlife in relation to their environment, then I don't mind so much. But when there are also programs to protect the environment, raise community awareness and rescue individual animals, then it is definitely worth supporting.

In the wild you can't count on spotting a Barking Owl, Platypus, Dingo, Koala, Greater Bilby, Red Kangaroo, Emu or Tasmanian Devil. In Healesville Sanctuary you will definitely see these creatures, and in as natural an environment as possible.
The Satin Bower Bird has a unique and complex courtship behaviour.  In the bird pavilion I was privileged to see - and video! - a bower bird in the process of constructing a bower.  The males build a structure, called a bower, and decorate it with brightly coloured found objects, mostly blue, in order to attract a mate.
The Superb Lyrebird is a ground dwelling bird that is notable for its ability to mimic natural and man-made sounds in their environment. The male has a large beautiful tail that he displays in courtship.
The Australian Wildlife Health Centre is based at the Sanctuary.

My friend S. from Scotland and I saw two orphan babies: a wallaby and a wombat.  They were being raised by caring staff members, who took it in turns to take them home for night care and feeding.  These animals need special lactose free milk, and staff take it in turns to take them home and feed them during the night.


  1. I felt the same suspiciousness about zoos, until I realized that most American gardens are plant zoos, with most plants non-native. What a cute baby in that photo. Great post!

  2. Oh my gosh!!! I don't know where to start. Yes I agree with you about animals as entertainment.....it bothers me as well. Silly fat humans eating popcorn looking at animals behind bars. It's the reason why I don't have birds for pets. Birds are meant to fly. Bird feeders attract the beautiful creatures to my window where I can enjoy them naturally. Second, some sanctuaries are a good thing as I recently learned at a "bird lecture" near the Grand Canyon on the California Condor. And finally, I love your videos....because the sounds are so different from our own here in the states. We take our own environs for granted sometimes but this is why I love the blogging world.....we get a peak into other continents:) Thank you for sharing your experience.

  3. Agree with you about zoos but your pictures and videos were really interesting.

  4. Birds of Eden, that I blogged about, has only rescued birds. Too injured to survive in the wild, or 'unwanted pets'. It is a huge aviary - in size and feeling like the Eden Project in Cornwall. But a zoo, I haven't been to for many years.

    I'm grateful to the many people around the world who do rehabilitate wildlife. I remember that picture of the fireman with the burnt koala holding his nice cool hand.

  5. You've got a good image of the Lyrebird there. Very typical.
    First vid didn't work for me, unfortunately. It invited me to try again (which I will do).
    The Healesville Sanctuary is an institution - in all senses of that word.
    Yes, a kind of zoo, but at least it does good study work, eg on the Platypus.

  6. Hi VG, the Sanctuary is also into conservation because that is the habitat wildlife need to survive. Thx for the visit and comment.

    Dear Roherbot, I also never had birds as pets either for that reason. It is wonderful sharing with people all over the world, finding what is exotic to you is familiar to me. And vice versa.

    Thx Hermes.

    Hi Diana, that pic of a compassionate encounter across species lines stays with me too.

    Dear Denis, please try bowerbird video again, I think it's a bit clearer now.

    cheers, catmint

  7. Great post, Catmint. Fabulous videos. They are magnificent birds, those Bowerbirds. I too have a lot of reservations about zoos and circuses that still have trained animals. I refuse to go to either!

    We have a sanctuary just down the road, but I still feel sorry for the animals because they still have humans tramping around every day gawking at them.

    We're lucky that we live in a spot where we can still see animals living as they should, even if sometimes they're actually trying to do that in a spot where we happen to live. I do not feed any of the creatures that wander around or fly around here. I don't like the idea of them becoming dependent of us for food.

  8. How absolutely lovely, Catmint. Healesville has been one of my favourite places since I was very small.
    Have you seen/heard David Attenborough's amazing recording of a Lyre-bird?

  9. I'm with you on the feeling that animals should not be entertainment but zoos have come a long way since the 60s and 70s and even the 80s. They are quite natural and teach us humans an awful lot about animals so we can be more understanding and empathetic towards them. I loved the sound of the birds in the first video. This was a great learning experience for me too. P.S. We went to Busch Gardens this past summer and my son's favorite part of the whole park was feeding the kangaroos. They are most neat. The orphans too cute!

  10. I agree with you about zoos in general, havn't been to one since my children were tiny. I think for them to survive these days they have to go down the environmental/educational route, breeding endangered animals to put them back into the wild.
    Lovely photos of the babies, some staff are very dedicated.

  11. Thanks Catmint
    Got to see your Bowerbird video, Very nice. Such a busy bird, building, tidying up the Bower, etc.
    Thought the Wonga Pigeon walking by was very funny. It was not impressed by the Bower at all.

  12. Zoos and menageries were very different places when I was young back in the 50s and 60s. What you show us today is a pleasure to see. I have a picture of your garden which I would like to add to my (Your Gardens) page along with a link to your blog. If you want it removed I will understand.

  13. BTW We do also have African Monarchs, but I am ashamed to admit I'm still trying to ID one.

  14. I guess sanctuary helps to raise orphans. There are sanctuaries for orphan for orang utan in Borneo as they are usually victim of logging or new open plantations.

  15. I also feel the same way about zoos and am really only comfortable with the Washington Zoo since they do so much education and outreach.

    Healesville sounds great - and baby animals, awwwwww!

  16. dear Bernie, you are lucky to live with wild animals. I don't feed birds either, just try and make sure there's fresh water.

    Dear Faisal, I haven't seen the David attenborough - i will google it as soon as I've finished these replies to helpful comments like yours.

    Hi Tina, it's funny that your son loved the kangaroos best. They must seem very exotic from such a long way from Australia.

    Dear Pauline, thx for the comment.

    Dear Denis, glad you liked the bowerbird video. i agree, there is something comical about the Wonga busily waddling along.

    Dear Alastair, I'm so pleased you liked the post. I'm honoured to have a link ton your blog.

    Dear Diana, identifying insects is a whole complicated thing - I'm concentrating on learning to identify plants first.

    Dear Diana, I went to Borneo and visited that sanctuary for orang utans. It's very sad that their environment is being destroyed.

    Dear Wendy, yes those babies are so-o-o cute. (I hope your dog - baby is doing OK)

    cheers, catmint


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