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Who could love a zoo?

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The cigarette smoking Molly, pictured here, is the star of the book Almost Human, a history of the Melbourne Zoo filled with heartwarming stories of her numerous escapes terrorising the residents of the inner Melbourne suburb of Parkville.

Molly was considered “almost human” but kept alone in a barred, concrete cage

Penned in the 1930s the book recounts many stories of the inhabitants including the tragic baboon, Jacko.

He spent his days chained to a platform at the top of a pole from which he entertained the punters by pretending to hang himself. “He’s dead! He’s dead!” punters would cry as his body swung listlessly from the end of its chain. Jacko would let the hysteria build, then cautiously open one eye and proceed to “come to life” climbing back up his chain to whoop and holler at the ecstatic crowd from his platform.

One day, tired of the farce, or misjudging the distance, he did not recover. He had snapped his neck. His limp body was pictured that afternoon in the Melbourne Herald.

That sorry history of the Zoological Gardens makes the Zoo an anathema for anyone concerned with animal welfare and there a section of the population that have never been inside the zoo as a result. Many zoo workers, though, see the modern zoo as a latter day ark, assisting in the conservation of endangered species and building up their populations for release into a rewilded planet.

Read the full piece on the blog

Hear Geoff recount it at Soundcloud

Watch the full video on his YouTube channel

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