Just a few short hours drive out of Melbourne, tucked away off the Maroondah Highway is a really interesting world containing some of nature's fascinating animals. There's lots of fun to be had bartering with the camels (Basil & Cybil), the deer (Miss M and friends) and the ostrich (Mhowani) for the food on your spade.
What's so special about this Zoo is that you can interact with, and feed almost all of the animals in one way or another. To ensure both the visitor's and the animal's safety, written guidance is supplied by the zoo as to how each of the animals is to be fed. Those fed by hand are generally those that are free-roaming and the animals behind fences are mostly fed via a small plastic spade... providing some hilarious moments.
On arrival, you'll be met by a couple of strutting peacocks with full tails feathers extended to the admiration of all. They roam around along with an extended family of ducks, following the "Pied Piper" with the bucket of food. They are constantly "gobbled" at by the very large, very vocal, white turkey in the nearby enclosure.
As you pass by the picnic tables & BBQ area, have your bucket ready because the beautiful fallow deer will be ready for a snack straight from your hand. It's funny how there is always one that's greedier than all of the others. The first enclosure houses the endangered capuchin monkeys, Hobbs, Calvin & Sebastian. These are active, noisy and very, very cute.
Heading up to watch Dave feed the magnificent white lions, brothers Djuma and Matimba to whom he is obviously very attached, you will pass by the swamp wallaby, the wombats Jenny & Marshall, and the dingoes, Paroo, Bombala and Angel. There are only 102 white lions left in the world and 17 of these are in Australia with two living at Mansfield Zoo. They live alongside the two tawny lions, Dalila & Rubani. In this area, you may be lucky enough to catch the antics of a pair of very active guinea pigs.
Don't be surprised if the Agile Wallabies, Arnie & Sofia and the alpaca Matthew wander up to say hello. The sound of food rustling in the bucket will also bring the Rusa deer herd running. If you stroll along by the lake you may find Tim the alligator snoozing in the Australian sun before you're greeted by the resident camels, bison, Eastern Grey kangaroo, Cape Barren geese, Guinea Fowl and more Fallow deer (the Rein family).
On the way back towards the eating area you'll find a couple of very interesting Rhesus & Bonnet Macaques whose antics are never ending. This area also houses the Sambar deer (Rosie & Lily)and the Quoll. It is possible to have an absolutely hilarious session interacting with Dalai, the Llama and Esme & Ernie, the resident emus who share space with an Albino Red kangaroo called Casper. Completing the Zoo's family is Elvis, the Water Buffalo and the Blackbuck Antelopes, Fergus and family.
These animals and birds have been hand raised by the Zoo but they can occasionally scratch, kick or bite, so it is expected that visitors will treat them with respect. Enjoy a picnic or BBQ under the large shaded gazebo or nearby trees. The zoo offers sleep-over facilities by arrangement and annual membership. Bus tours are also available, but bookings are essential.