Zoos Victoria

Lion Cubs

On Monday I went to Werribee Open Range Zoo with my sister. When I’ve been taking a lot of photos of people – doing portraits or con photos – I always need to decompress by doing something completely different.
When I heard that there were four newborn cubs at Werribee I knew I wanted to go and see them before they got too big! We were really lucky, because that day was the first time people were allowed up close to the glass (they had to be introduced to crowds very gradually). They didn’t seem bothered at all, and made a great show of sharing their first bone, rolling around on the grass practicing pouncing and stalking, and bothering their parents.
One of the best parts was watching them all sit up when they heard their dad growling, and then start to run around trying to growl like him.
They are such beautiful, graceful animals and it was so rewarding just sitting quietly and watching them. The lion cubs were obviously the big drawcard, but I found the lioness just as captivating to watch. She seemed very patient with her new babies, constantly making sure they were all getting a chance to eat the bone and giving them baths. She didn’t seem overly bothered by us all watching, every so often casting us a glance but then going back to her newborns. The photo that I took of her was probably my favourite of the day.
This did nothing whatsoever to quell my wish to one day do a proper safari. I can’t even begin to imagine how amazing that would be.

Werribee Open Range Zoo // August 2016

My sister and I took ourselves to Werribee on a beautiful Winter’s day to try the “off-road safari” at Werribee Open Range Zoo here in Victoria. I’d been to Werribee before, but I’d never gone on the safari.




We had a really great safari tour guide, Matthew, who told us about the shift in zoos and wildlife parks away from the traditional attraction sites of the past to a focus on conservation and education, and the animals we saw definitely seemed to benefit from it.








They are given strictly limited human contact (only what conditioning is needed to help keep them manageable and safe) and the environment and species social groups help them to maintain their natural behaviours. It was actually really moving to see how happy and settled they seemed, even when we were driving around near them.








The only part I was disappointed about was that after the tour, we went to see the Lion enclosure but it was largely blocked off. The big cats are my favourite to photograph, so it was hard to take photos that worked from such a distance. I managed to get a couple of photos, but I wasn’t as happy with them.






I’m not really sure what prompted me to try editing them in black and white, I think I just tried it with one of the giraffe photographs and liked how striking the effect was. I did edit a couple of photos in a sort of low contrast, semi-matte colour, boosting the levels of the blues and greens using saturation levels in Lightroom, then selective colour in Photoshop. I made sure whatever I was doing with the colour in Photoshop to keep watching that the whites stayed white, which is always a good guide to keep things looking realistic (unless unrealistic is what you’re going for).






Taking photos of wildlife is, obviously, a completely different skill set to taking convention photos or portraits, and so it’s nice to stretch yourself and do something different!

“Someone told me it’s all happening at the zoo” Paul Simon

As promised, I have edited some more pictures from my trip to the zoo.

A playful Orangutan

A playful Orangutan

Among the treetops

Among the treetops

Basking in the sun

Basking in the sun

I’m rapidly deciding that the Sumatran Tigers are my favourite. I love the environment they have them in at the Melbourne Zoo, it’s beautiful. And the two male cubs who were there on the day I took photos were gorgeous.

A cool drink

A cool drink

I’m really trying to be conscious of not “over-processing” my photos too much, but the temptation is definitely there. I’m also trying not to compare myself with other photographers, but that is going to take a long time to grow out of.

Baby Elephant Expedition

On the morning of the 17th of January, 2013  Royal Melbourne Zoo celebrated the arrival of an 130kg baby elephant calf born to Asian Elephant Num-Oi.

Both Mum and bub were doing so well, that on the 19th and 20th people were invited to come and see the baby elephant getting used to his new environment and bonding with Mum. It was a bright Summer weekend in Melbourne, and still school holidays so I knew it would be busy. But I couldn’t resist an opportunity to try to take photos of the new arrival!

On Sunday I dutifully trooped into town with all my gear and stood in line with everyone else waiting to get a glimpse of the little guy. He didn’t disappoint!

The new arrival!

The new arrival!

He seemed a little unsteady, and stuck close to Mum the whole time. She was very protective, and it was lovely to see them bonding.

Hiding with Mum

Hiding with Mum

It was a uniquely challenging photo experience. It was so bright and the glare from the sand (not to mention the dust clouds Mum threw up to keep the baby cool!) made visibility difficult. It was so crowded too, so finding a good shooting place was difficult. But I loved it, and I’m glad I went.

I took other photos while I was there, which I will blog about soon. I need to keep finding these opportunities around to keep shooting. That’s my battle cry this year – Keep Shooting!