Feeding the animals
Melbourne Zoo food bag for public to feed the animals, c 1950s
Public Record Office Victoria
VPRS 8850/P1, unit 48
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State of Victoria
It was common practice to for zoo visitors to feed the animals from the Zoo’s early days through to the 1970s.
Visitors to the Zoo expected to be able to feed the animals as part of their zoo experience. This caused health problems and even death for some zoo animals. In 1893 an ostrich died after eating food given to it by zoo visitors.
Not all visitors to the zoo showed respect for the animals and, at times, foreign objects were thrown into the enclosures. In 1933, a hippopotamus died at Melbourne Zoo as a result of swallowing a tennis ball thrown into his enclosure. A female hippo died in the same way in 1961.
By the time bags of food, such as this one, were sold to zoo visitors, there were restrictions in place regarding which animals could be fed and what they could be fed.
Public feeding of animals at Melbourne Zoo was banned in 1963. However, it took many years for visitors to abide by the rules and some continued to feed the animals into the 1970s.
150 years Melbourne Zoo, Zoos Victoria, Bounce Books, 2012
Almost Human: Reminiscences of Melbourne Zoo, A.A.W Wilkie, Whitcombe and Tombs,1920