Werribee Zoo set for $84m redevelopment

·1-min read

Melbourne's Asian elephant herd will have a new home as part of an $84 million redevelopment of Werribee Zoo.

The relocation will also free up space at Melbourne Zoo ahead of its 160th anniversary in two year's time.

The Werribee open range zoo upgrade will feature a 22-hectare site for six Asian elephants, an increase on their current two-hectare enclosure at Melbourne Zoo.

Zoos Victoria chief executive Dr Jenny Gray said the Werribee project was beyond their expectations.

It also opens up what is possible with a new master plan for Melbourne Zoo, which she said is to be completed in time for the 160th anniversay milestone.

"The opportunity with the elephants moving here is to do something remarkable," she said.

The four-year Werribee redevelopment, which starts next week, will also feature a 1.6km tree-top gondola and new sites for bison and rhinos, plus a new waterhole precinct.

Melbourne and Werribee zoos and Healesville Sanctuary all reopened last week as the city's coronavirus restrictions eased.

Dr Grey said some patrons waited for up to seven hours for tickets last week, with the zoos running at reduced capacity because of social distancing.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the Werribee redevelopment would create about 350 jobs.

"This is a facility that's second to none, but it can be better," he said.

Wednesday's announcement outside the Werribee lion enclosure marked a change of scenery for the premier's daily coronavirus briefing, which resumed after he had four days off.