Explore Melbourne Zoo as you never have before with the adults only I, Animal experience.
Guided by the instructions of an interactive device named Zöe hanging around your neck, you are directed to different places in the zoo and told trivia and stories about the zoo and its animals. Along the journey, the participant is invited to ponder provoking questions about childhood and life.
With headphones on and the likelihood of being separated from who you came with, I, Animal is quite a solitary experience.
The tour itself took under an hour. There was plenty of waiting around before the tour- participants are advised to arrive at 6:30pm, but it does not start until the countdown on the Zöe concludes at 7pm. Once the countdown reaches zero, there is more waiting still. Facing the entry, everyone listens to Zöe introduce the tour and talk about childhood for a few minutes before being let in. At this point, the group is split up, so not everyone has the same experience.
I selected the giraffe group, which began at the lion enclosure. Zöe regaled the group with tales of lions as we were all instructed to stand by the fence gazing at the gorgeous creatures. Next, we were directed to the peccary enclosure, where we were told that the little pig-like peccaries are not as adorable as they may seem.
We were guided to see a handful of other animals, the most lively of which were the zebras, although they retreated out of sight after a few minutes of our group looking at them. Fittingly, the giraffe group ended at the giraffe enclosure.
It was disappointing that we only got to see a small selection of animals, especially considering that the cost of the tour exceeded regular zoo admission. It was more of an introspective journey rather than being about viewing animals. Being invited to regress to childhood did not help me put this into perspective. Instead, it made me more inclined to be downcast about the deficit of baby animals.
It seemed that the tour was put together with the intention of it being a dark, starry night. However, as it is only being held in the summer months, there was not a star to be seen in the bright blue sky as we were directed to look up and consider the Earth-like worlds out there.
At the conclusion of the tour, participants are invited to have a short ride on the zoo's historic carousel while refreshments are available for purchase.