Healesville Sanctuary opened in 1934 and is known as the best place in the world to see Australian animals in their natural habitat. Just a comfortable one hour drive from Melbourne to the Yarra Valley, the first indication of what's in store is a welcome from wild and colourful lorikeets as they arrive for their morning feed.
Around 200 species of Australian wildlife flourish in a bushland environment of towering gums and tree ferns. Koalas, kangaroos, platypus, possums and dingoes are some of the creatures you will encounter.
Large walk-through habitat exhibits, aviaries, special nocturnal exhibits and walking paths through Australian bush habitats provide opportunities to view many native animals during your visit. In addition to general animal viewing, "Meet the Keeper" presentations are a great way to find out more about Australian wildlife from the people who really know the animals.
Meet The Keeper presentations are just as popular with locals as with international visitors. Presentations are subject to suitable weather.
In December 2005 the Sanctuary opened the world-class Australian Wildlife Health Centre. Now visitors are able to join the experts at the front line of wildlife care and experience real-life animal rescue. Injured and orphaned animals are admitted to the hospital and the process of rescue, care and rehabilitation can be followed.
The hospital was designed around a large, circular public gallery with views into eight key zones.
The operating theatre shows skilled veterinarians and nurses performing surgical procedures. Visitors can look through a glass panel or watch on televisions outside the theatre. The veterinarian performing the procedure commentates as they work.
Laboratories have state-of-the-art diagnostic tools. It is an educational experience giving visitors the rare chance to see real wildlife cases being diagnosed. Experts on hand are able to answer questions.
If you fancy, you can watch a veterinary pathologist performing post-mortem procedures. Visitors will learn the importance of knowledge gained through post-mortem as it identifies health issues in individual animals and populations.
Injured wildlife brought to Healesville is taken to emergency for assessment and treatment. Visitors can watch as they are rushed through, some to the operating theatre, some just needing some TLC in the care and recovery wards.
All of this care, rescue, repair and love of saving sick and injured animals are thanks to David Middleton, a recognised leader in the field of wildlife and environmental care. He has been with the Sanctuary since 1985 and been honoured by the Wildlife Disease Association.