|Description of this FunctionDescription of this Function|
From 1858-1861 this function encompassed the establishment of the zoological gardens and their administration by the Director of Zoological Gardens who reported to the Melbourne Zoological Gardens Committee which in itself reported to and was funded by the Chief Secretary (VA 475). In July 1858 the Government appointed a Committee for the Management of the Zoological Gardens. Baron Von Mueller, the Government Botanist and Director of the Botanical Gardens from 1857 was appointed to the Committee and was a little later appointed to the position of Director of Zoological Gardens. In October 1858 the Zoological Gardens were "combined" with the Botanic Gardens and it was agreed that the Government Botanist "should exercise control over the whole of the grounds and that he should only in the management of the Zoological Department be under the control of the committee..."[VPRS 1189/P, unit 745, file 58/G8503, Director of Zoological Gardens to Chief Secretary] In 1861 when the animals were moved from the Botanic Gardens to the present site in Royal Park it would seem that the Society once again took over administration of the Zoological Gardens but further research is required to absolutely verify this.
Researchers are advised to check the records of both the Chief Secretary and the Royal Zoological and Acclimatisation Society of Victoria (VA 3123) for the period 1857-1861.
The Melbourne Zoological Gardens were the first to be established in Australia. In October 1857 the Zoological Society of Victoria was formed with the aim of the introduction and acclimatisation of animals, birds, fishes, and plants, both useful and ornamental. The first collections were housed in the Richmond Paddock opposite the Melbourne Botanic Garden. In 1861 the title was changed to the "Acclimatisation Society of Victoria", in 1870 to the "Zoological and Acclimatisation Society of Victoria", the prefix "Royal" being added in 1910. The animals were transferred to the present site in Royal Park in 1861. Although acclimatisation was one of the objects during the first decade at Royal Park, the efforts of the Society were gradually directed towards developing the Gardens and acquiring animals for exhibition purposes.
The Royal Zoological and Acclimatisation Society of Victoria controlled the Zoological Gardens until 1937 when financial difficulties were encountered and the Society requested the Victorian Government to assume responsibility for the Zoological Gardens and its extensive collections. As a result the Zoological Gardens Act 1936 appointed the Zoological Board of Victoria, a statutory body, on which the society was represented until its final disbandment in the 1950s. The functions administered under the Zoological Gardens Act 1936 and subsequently the Zoological Parks and Gardens Act 1967 were:
responsibility for the Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens;
from 1975 the Werribee Fauna/Zoological Park and
from 1978 the Sir Colin Mackenzie Fauna Park (Healesville Sanctuary)
the exhibition of zoological specimens to the public
the scientific study of zoological specimens
the instruction and entertainment of the public
the protection, preservation, management and care of the wildlife
the protection or preservation of the wildlife habitat including native plants and trees
Replacement of the Zoological Board of Victoria
The Zoological Parks and Gardens Act 1967 was repealed by the Zoological Parks and Gardens Act 1995 with the Zoological Board of Victoria being replaced by the Zoological Parks and Gardens Board Victoria. This new Board consists of nine members appointed by the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Minister. One member is to be a representative of the Department with others to be selected for their expertise in areas such as zoology or veterinary science, business management , tourism and nature conservation or animal research.
The Board is responsible for the Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens, the Healesville Sanctuary, Coranderrk Bushland at Healesville and the Victorian Open Range Zoo at Werribee. Its functions include:
the conservation, protection, management and improvement of the zoological parks and collections;
the promotion and increase of public enjoyment, knowledge and awareness of thwe zoological collections and parks;
the carrying out and promotion of zoological research;
the conservation of wildlife and its natural habitat;
the maintenance of biodiversity.