Werribee Open Range Zoo


Werribee Open Range Zoo provides a rare opportunity to get up close to these intriguing animals. You can sit and watch the hippos along the Pula Walking trail as well as seeing them while out on Safari.

While the name hippopotamus means ‘river horse’, their closest relatives are actually whales and dolphins!

Concerns about the future of this species have grown over the last few years and hippopotamus are now classed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (on the IUCN red list). According to the IUCN, the most recent population estimates suggest a 7-20% decline in hippo populations over the past decade. Threats to hippos include habitat loss and poaching for meat and the ivory in their teeth and tusks.

Preferred hippo habitat includes slow-moving, fresh water with flat grassy areas nearby for feeding. Unfortunately, this is also the type of habitat that humans seek out and this leads to human-animal conflict – especially as fresh water bodies in Africa can be scarce.

Hippos spend most of their time in the water, venturing out at dusk to feed in the cool of the evening. These giant herbivores spend the night grazing on grass before returning to the water at dawn. If the weather is suitable, they will bask in the sun either on land or in mud wallows. While they are herbivores, they are very territorial and very protective of their families and can be very aggressive. A hippo will head for the water if they feel threatened but unfortunately, as it is their habitat and this valuable resource that is often being shared with people, this sometimes results in conflict.  Hippopotamuses, especially the males, have large ivory tusks jutting upwards from their lower jaw. They use these tusks for fighting, while grinding food are located at the back of the jaws. 


Born 1990

Primrose is the largest of the three females in the main pond, and mother to Tulip and Lotus. She is very polite and enjoys chin rubs from her keepers.


Born 1990

Brindabella is a terrific mum to young Pansy. She likes to have things her own way and at feed times will often bang on her gate to let the keepers know she wants to be let in. 


Born 2003

Tulip is the second largest of the three females in the main pond. She is very curious about anything going on in the area, likes to interact with the keepers, and is generally very playful. She is going through the ‘terrible teen’ stage and she is often seen play-sparring with her younger sister Lotus. 


Born 2008

Lotus is now as tall as her mum, but she still has some growing to do over the next few years. She’s quite cheeky and likes to stir up older sister Tulip.


Born 2013

Pansy is the youngest hippo at Werribee Open Range Zoo. Mum Brindabella is very patient with her as she gains confidence. Pansy likes to nuzzle in under mum’s chin during feeding time, although she’s getting a big for this! She also loves to splash and porpoise around in the water.

Hippo Calf Pansy 2nd Birthday

Hip Hip Hooray for Hippo Pansy

Hippo calf Pansy will turn two this Wednesday, 18 November at Werribee Open Range Zoo.

16 November 2015
Hippo Pansy Birthday

Happy Birthday Pansy

Werribee Open Range Zoo has celebrated the first birthday of hippo calf  Pansy.

To mark the milestone on Tuesday 18 November, Pansy and mum Brindabella enjoyed a special watermelon cake created by the Zoo’s volunteers along with some vegetable ice blocks.

18 November 2014
Slumber Safari - couple

Slumber Safari

Enjoy an overnight experience at the Zoo in our luxury safari camp. Your stay includes amazing close-up animal encounters, drinks and dips at sunset, a sumptuous dinner, unique night-time activities and breakfast overlooking Australian Journey. 

Open Vehicle Adventure video

Off Road Safari

Get even closer to our magnificent African wildlife on an off road safari. You will be completely immersed in the sights, smells and sounds of the savannah as you travel across the Zoo's open plains.

  • The hippopotamus’ closest living relatives are whales and dolphins
  • Hippopotamus are virtually hairless and have a thin top layer of skin, so moisture loss in dry air is greater than for other animals. Staying in water prevents dehydration
  • They can run at speeds of 30km per hour, but only for very short bursts
  • Hippopotamuses ooze a pinkish fluid when they are in the sun which acts as a sunscreen