yesterday i visited melbourne zoo to see the jazz music and lounge around on a picnic rug stuffing my face and drinking. as i was there primarily for the "zoo twilights" i didn't really see much of the zoo (not like me!), but did go for a slightly drunken wander to the elephants, only to find that the zoo management now closes the entire front section of the zoo during the late-night jazz festival. anyhow, it had been quite awhile since i was last at the zoo and an aweful amount of redevelopment was going along, presumably in time for this year's commonwealth games. firstly, stage 2 of the elephant exhibit is definately complete (i could see over the fence). the bull now has his own seperate barn, holding yard and paddock with ajoining gates into both the main cow paddock and the so-called "village paddock" with the deep water swimming pool. the vegetation around the area is continuing to grow and is looking good. between the elephants and the giraffes (where the New Guinea animals used to be) is a huge building site as the new orang-utan exhibit takes shape. it's hard to tell how the finshed exhibit will look exactly but i could see that after passing the "asian research hut " and bird aviary, the path will take visitors onto an elevated boardwalk and into a building. it looks as though there will be at least 2 or 3 seperate orang enclosures and they look as if they will be quite large compared to the current exhibits or the one at taronga (though still smaller than the melbourne gorilla exhibit). this development meant the removal of the tree kangaroos to a new exhibit near the enterance to the zoo. of course this new exhibit is nothing on the old one with echidna's and cassowaries, but at least one pair of the zoo's super successful breeding program are on display. most of the australian section and old ungulate paddocks was under construction too (making half the zoo in effect a bulding site). the australian zone is being expanded for the expected influx in foriegn tourists and the bison and african buffalo as a result have moved to werribee. the bison paddock is now an almost finished water treatment/recycling plant. the buffalo paddock a (temporary?) new walkthrough area for kangaroo/emu/wallaby. the old area was being redeveloped. expect to see the australian animal collection grow significantly. lastly, there was a fair amount of exhibit refurbishment/landscaping going on. the very small and badly designed new fennec fox exhibit (in which the foxes simply jumped out of!) has beeen more appropriately used to house a second group of meerkats. the peccaries (displaced by the expansion of the australian section) appear to have a new exhibit on the site of the old cheetah-cum-hunting dog pen. it has been nicely landscaped with cacti and succulants, sand and mud wallows and new low fencing and an alteration of the path. the peccaries will no doubt love the new much larger exhibit. also to benifit were the patagonian cavies. the precious senegal palm has been removed so it can be better appreciated elsewhere in the grounds and the cavies now have a larger, sunnier more "patagonian" type landscape. again new fencing improved the look somewhat also. melbourne zoo is certainly moving along at a very fast pace and is going to look fantastic once the construction work is done. then no doubt the zoo will set it's sights on a new seal pool, asian temperate forest, south american rainforest and african savannah.