Last week, two small groups of Year 9 students participated in one of the Year 9 optional camps at Melbourne Zoo. Group One visited from Tuesday – Wednesday, while Group Two visited from Wednesday – Thursday.
It all began like a typical school day. Typical, but filled with excitement and suspense for the evening to come. After school, we got changed and headed to Mordialloc Station, where we boarded a train to the city. At Flinders Street, we changed lines and arrived at Royal Park (Zoo) Station at around 5.30pm. Stepping off the train, breathing in the fresh air and hearing the birdsong, was so peaceful and calming.
Honestly, it was pretty surreal seeing the Zoo so quiet without the usual crowds. Our camp coordinators, the legendary Pete and Chris, greeted us with warm welcomes and took us to our tents. It was dusk, and so the sky was filled with warm blissful hues. We set up in the permanent tents on site and began a great game of tag, whilst we waited for dinner.
An onsite chef cooked us pizzas and we devoured them alongside macaroni and cheese. At this stage, it was getting dark and so after dinner, we set off on an exciting evening walk around the zoo. Seeing nocturnal animals at the zoo (active) was truly a special experience. As we walked around with a special red torch, we got to witness many animals up close that we were fortunate to see as part of the nocturnal adventure, including snow leopards, elephants and giraffes. Even though we had all seen them before, seeing them in the dark was a surreal experience. One of the nocturnal species that we got to especially see were the Lord Howe Island Stick Insects, which crept out of slumber for the night.
After the walk, we headed back to the site where we got ready for bed and played another round of tag before heading to bed to get some beneficial sleep.
The next morning, we woke up early (some at sunrise) and got ready for the exciting day ahead. We packed up our things and headed to breakfast, where we got to choose between toast, cereal and yoghurt, as well as tea and coffee.
Around 7.30 am, we bid our tents farewell and headed off on a morning tour, where we got to watch one of the snow leopards lift a large tub (hiding his breakfast) as part of his cognitive and physical development. We also walked around the Wild Sea exhibit and observed some of the magical sea life.
After our tour, we all split up into smaller groups and got to walk around the zoo at our own pace. Every group managed to visit all the animals, with the butterflies being my personal favourite! We then made our way to the cafe, where we had our snack, before popping into the gift shop at the end.
At 12.45 pm, we made our way back to the train station, feeling exhausted yet satisfied after an exciting once in a lifetime experience!