Photography: Sarah Summers and Mia Mcdonald
Text: Nicole Baird
One of Melbourne’s most popular summer events is the outdoor live music series, Zoo Twilights, held annually from January to March at Melbourne Zoo. For punters, it’s a unique chance to pay a quick visit to the seals, spread out with mates on your picnic blanket and chill with some tidy tunes while lions roar in the background. In reality, Zoo Twilights is much more than that.
Dedicated to animal welfare and environmental sustainability, Melbourne Zoo pours all proceeds from the summer concert series back into wildlife conservation. So, while music-lovers enjoy fantastic acts such as Jessica Mauboy, Xavier Rudd, Something for Kate, Josh Pyke, Charles Bradley and Neko Case, they can also know their money is going directly to a worthy cause.
One of Melbourne Zoo’s most prominent campaigns is the ‘They’re Calling On You’ initiative, which aims to raise awareness of the plight of gorillas in the wild and encourage people to recycle their mobile phones. In Africa, coltan (a mineral used in mobile phones) is mined throughout gorilla habitats, causing devastating destruction to gorilla populations. The campaign delivers much-needed funds to rangers protecting gorilla habitats and reduces the demand for coltan by providing communities with recycled phones.
Not only are the proceeds from Zoo Twilights going towards such initiatives, but the whole ethos of the event is focussed on sustainability. The food available onsite for purchase is sustainably sourced and locally produced with a ‘low food miles’ approach. Produce is grown in a veggie patch on the Zoo grounds and food is prepared on site whenever possible. Additionally, all packaging is fully compostable or biodegradable with ample recycling and rubbish bins provided.
Melbourne Zoo is one of the world’s premier zoo-based conservation organizations with countless local conservation and breeding programs plus international programs in Kenya, Borneo, Cambodia, PNG, DRC and the Philippines. Events like Zoo Twilights that engage the community in an enjoyable experience while delivering a powerful underlying message are changing the image of zoos around the world. Today a trip to the zoo is no longer simply about animal appreciation but much more about animal conservation and preserving our precious wildlife for generations to come.
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