Review: I, ANIMAL at Melbourne Zoo

Taking a walk on the wild side

By Jessica Cornish

Last night my friend and I got to experience I-Animal, thus offering us the opportunity to explore our inner creatures,as well as a select few residents of the Melbourne Zoo.

Before commencing the tour we were all presented with our new best friend for the evening, ‘Zoe’: an interactive i-phone/tablet-type device fitted with senheisser headphones. We were then asked to pick our favourite animal out of a possible three choices.

From there each tour is an individual experience. There is no ‘sheep option,’ on this tour, so you can’t just mindlessly follow the people in front of you. For this night to be a success you really need to succumb to Zoe, and let her dictate your movements for the evening.

My friend and I walked through the gates of the zoo with head sets a go and literally within a minute were separated. I found myself being told to walk down a dirt path to the left, whilst my counterpart bounded straight ahead. But fear not, we were reunited at the end of the evening, eager to swap stories from our different experiences.

The unique adult-only audio tour mixed factual information about certain animals with a combination of folklore, myth and humour. Each tour group sees a different combination of three exhibits, enabling close inspection of the different animals within a small group of people. I first encountered a Sumatran tiger fiercely pacing up and down in the water waiting to snatch up its chicken for the night, whilst a walking bass line rapidly blared through my speakers.It was the most active I had ever seen a tiger and the atmosphere was thrilling. Then there was the hilarity of crazy sexual reproduction information at another exhibit, and at another time, one lady was bought to tears whilst in the process of replicating the grieving process for another animal.

It would have been nice if the tour were longer, and included more exhibits to explore. However, you are encouraged to return again to experience one of the alternate tour options.

For this event you will need to enter via the main gate.It begins promptly at 7pm, so it’s a good idea to arrive at 6.30, but don’t bother any earlier than that as nothing is open!

I-Animal is a special experience that allows reality to be suspended for an hour while you travel around mesmerised, listening to Zoe and discovering your inner animal.

Where: The Melbourne Zoo
When: 7pm daily
Cost: $39, $35.00 conc/zoo members.
Who: 16 years+

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