Premier John Brumby unveiled Melbourne Zoo’s newest addition and largest ever exhibit, Wild Sea – a world class home for seals and penguins.
At the Melbourne Zoo with Environment, Climate Change and Innovation Minister Gavin Jennings, Mr Brumby said Wild Sea was the largest development in Melbourne Zoo’s 147-year history.
“The Melbourne Zoo is one of Victoria’s greatest tourist destinations attracting more than one million visitors every year, ” Mr Brumby said.
"This new facility is a marine exhibit that brings together fur seals, fish, invertebrates and penguins.
“The exhibit is among the best seal and penguin sanctuaries anywhere in the world and will attract even more visitors to the Zoo and boost tourism for our state."
The new seal pool is more than five metres deep and more than three times bigger than the previous pool.
Mr Brumby said the Australian fur seals were one of the most popular animals at the Zoo and their new home would see them become an even bigger attraction.
“Visitors can watch the seals from a viewing area or see them swim, dive and interact with each other in the underwater display, Mr Brumby said.
“The exhibit also features a new penguin pool surrounded by sand dunes that replicate the coastal habitat of Phillip Island and is the first time ever in the zoo’s history, that penguins can be viewed swimming under water.”
The penguin and seal pools have state-of-the-art equipment to create waves and currents for the animals to enjoy. The exhibit also includes a series of aquariums that house a number of Victorian fish species offering an insight into Victoria’s marine life, including Port Jackson Sharks and Fiddler Rays.
Mr Jennings said visitors to the exhibit would get a unique taste of the Victorian coastline, entering via sand dunes and a pier built from recycled wood from the iconic Portsea Pier.
"Visitors will be able to explore the underwater wonders of Victoria’s shoreline, " he said.
“The Brumby Labor Government understands the importance of investing in infrastructure at our world class zoos so they continue to contribute to Victorian tourism, education, recreation and conservation. That’s why we have invested $20 million towards the Wild Sea exhibit.
“The Melbourne, Werribee and Healesville Zoos are the state’s biggest visitor attraction and play a vital role in educating Victorian children about the environment and endangered species.”
The Wild Sea exhibit opened to the public on Wednesday, 9 December.
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