Zoo’s walk on the wild side earns Kidsafe award

Melbourne Zoo’s playful side has been celebrated with an award recognising the safe and creative design of an area that encourages children to mirror the activities of animals.

The award was handed out at a ceremony at the zoo on Tuesday by Kidsafe Victoria, which also recognised playgrounds in Kinglake and Bendigo.

Kidsafe project manager Jason Chambers said the organisation recognised and rewarded “creative” play spaces that were safe, interesting and challenging.

“A safe play space definitely doesn’t have to be a boring play space – it can be fun and creative,” he said.

The three playgrounds are the Victorian winners of the National Kidsafe Playspace Design Awards, which are presented each year.

Melbourne Zoo spokeswoman Judith Henke said the $3.8 million Growing Wild project, which took three years to build, was designed to encourage “mirrored play”.

“It’s all about creating nice play opportunities for the children that actually mirror the activities of the animals,” she said. “It’s important to give kids learning opportunities and involve them in the natural world.”

The zoo playground has sandpits, meerkat-like tunnels for children to crawl through and life-sized giant tortoise shells.

Mr Chambers said it was unique.


This article originally appeared on page 14 of The Age newspaper on 22 October 2014.

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