Kardinia Park sure has a rich history – did you know that it used to be home to a zoo?
Back in 1903, thirty-one years after it was first proclaimed a public park (c.1872), Kardinia Park opened a zoo. The zoo hosted around 20 species of animals, and was described as a ‘magnificent reserve of some 40 acres’.
An enclosure was built around the parks largest pond for wild fowl which included Australian boobook, various Australian, Mandarin and European ducks, Guinea fowls, white swans and peacocks.
In 1911, the Geelong Advertiser’s magazine News of the Week published an inventory of the zoo which included native Australian animals and foreign wildlife. As the zoo grew, they gained African and Indian monkeys, deer, various kangaroos, emu, ostriches, wallaby, lemur and an elephant that visitors could ride on.
When discussing the Greater Geelong parks in 1915, the Geelong Advertiser affirmed Kardinia Park as offering more variety for money even though it received less funding than other parks. “The Zoo, a football oval, a cricket pitch, children’s playgrounds, lakes, and a drive” were the highlighted attractions of Kardinia Park (Geelong Advertiser 1915, p. 2).
In 1919, the Zoo was beautifully described in At The Seaside, “There is a well-filled monkey house, and the aviary contains many birds of beautiful plumage and sweet song, while the ponds in the grounds are the home of many rare waterfowl” (At The Seaside – Government Tourist Bureau 1919, p. 26).
When the zoo officially closed remains unknown, but it’s believed it was some time during the Second World War. This is also when the Geelong Football Club moved from playing their home games in the VFL from Corio Oval to Kardinia Park… but that’s for another edition of KP History.