The foremost native fauna sanctuary and display in Victoria, Healesville Sanctuary is set in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges north-east of Melbourne. Since 1978 the sanctuary has been managed by the Zoological Parks and Gardens Board. Local visitors and international tourists are attracted to the bush setting with free-ranging birds and sensitive enclosures where they can see unusual local reptiles, birds and mammals, including the platypus and the lyrebird.
It was officially opened in 1934 as the Sir Colin MacKenzie Sanctuary for Australian Flora and Fauna. At the time there was great interest among naturalists and scientists to create a 'wild zoo in the hills'. The site of MacKenzie's former research station was selected over several other locations in a hotly contested battle. The sanctuary was the natural home of the platypus and when its first curator, Robert Eadie, set a record by keeping the elusive monotreme in captivity for four years, the sanctuary acquired an international reputation. Although Melbourne Zoo maintains an important collection of native animals, the appeal of the sanctuary lies in being able to view animals in their natural environment. By the early 1990s the sanctuary was officially referred to as Healesville Sanctuary.