Neon Playground at Melbourne Zoo
Laser art? Neon mazes? That’s a sure way to grab people’s attention, not that Melbourne Zoo needs much help in that department. Between its traditional daytime operations and the popularity of its Zoo Twilights musical series, the zoo has enduring appeal.
Still, Neon Playground is one amazing after-dark feat. The four-hour event, which will run daily for a fortnight, is an interactive installation that doubles as a fundraising drive for wildlife conservation. All proceeds will go towards efforts to protect the critically endangered Southern Corroboree Frog, an Australian native known for its striking black-and-yellow pattern. Tragically, there are estimated to be less than 100 of these frogs left in the wild today, due in large part to the devastating fungal disease chytridiomycosis.
Tapping a cross-section of local visual artists and designers, Neon Playground includes immersive laser art along Awareness Alley on the zoo’s Main Drive, plus neon lights from artist Carla O’Brien, who has worked on Ballarat’s White Night and counts Katy Perry among her fans. Visit the illuminated giant tortoises at the lively adaptation of Graeme Base’s classic picture book The Waterhole, navigate a neon maze inspired by the Southern Corroboree Frog’s signature colouring and hit up the food trucks and bars at Relaxoland. The work of audio-visual wizard Robin Fox (who has graced Mona Foma, Vivid Festival and Sugar Mountain) will also be featured.
The zoo is keeping further details under wraps for now, in order to maximise the surprise factor. And don’t worry, Neon Playground has been designed to minimise the impact on the zoo’s animal residents. For that reason, animal viewing can’t be guaranteed, as only certain portions of the zoo will be open for the event. But you’ll be busy being wading through neon labyrinths and brighter-than-life lasers, anyway.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Zoos Victoria.