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22 August 2011

Werribee Open Range Zoo has won the prestigious Business of the Year award and the Tourism and Hospitality Award at the Wyndham Business Awards on Friday night.

The council said the zoo was providing a leading regional focus for tourism, life-long learning and community action and was an outstanding tourism and recreation destination and an integral part of Wyndham City.

Zoo Director Sally Lewis said the zoo was extremely honoured to have received the awards and also thanked Powercor and Victoria University for sponsoring the awards.

"Many wonderful things are happening at our zoo," Ms Lewis said.

"In the judging period, we secured large amounts of funding to help grow our zoo. This funding was for foundation infrastructure such as a new bridge and safari station.

"We began to build a feral proof fence around the zoo. This fence helps us to fight extinctions as it allows us to breed and release the local and endangered Eastern Barred Bandicoot. Werribee Zoo is now more active in saving locally threatened wildlife.

"We opened a new vet hospital which enables us to expand our range of animals. The new vet hospital also provides improved facilities for our animals AND our staff.

"We also launched Wild Nights, our annual winter school holiday program that invites visitors to enjoy the zoo after dark, and we developed a range of African Serval Cat experiences. One is a daily presentation for up to 250 visitors and another is an up-close encounter for small groups.

"We have also created the most spectacular gorilla exhibit. Our gorillas will have a huge mountainous space, with long views across our open range zoo. We can't wait to see them in it and we know our visitors will be thrilled also.

"Last year over 300,000 visitors came to our zoo—many are from the west. We hope they will continue to support us over the exciting year ahead."

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