Saturday, April 24, 2010

Baltimore Zoo Opens for the Season

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore opened the gates on the 2010 season Saturday. Although the rainy day opening limited the turnout, those who attended enjoyed seeing the animals, and reportedly the animals enjoyed the company. As a result of the recent heavy snows some of the exhibits, like the Marsh Aviary and African Aviary will remain closed until they can be repaired. Even with the damage to some parts of the zoo there is still plenty to enjoy. Start Spring early by getting out of the house and enjoy a cost saving adventure. Going to the zoo is a great way to connect with nature, your family and even yourself.

Mark Saturday, March 20th, on your calendar to celebrate Sampson, the baby elephant's, second birthday. Participants will sing happy birthday to the zoo's youngest elephant, get their faces painted, and enjoy a slice of cake from Charm City Cakes. The celebration will be from 11 AM to 1 PM. Don't forget to sign Sampson's birthday card while you are there.

The Maryland Zoo’s African Journey is the largest exhibit area on the 160 acre zoo, dedicated to the animals and birds of the African continent. A few of the many exhibits include leopards, cheetahs, warthogs, giraffes, elephants, lions, chimpanzees, vultures and West African cranes.

A favorite feature in the African Journey is the giraffe feeding plaza where you can feed the giraffe’s everyday between 10:30 and 3 pm. Be aware the giraffe feeding areas may be closed if the field remains too muddy for them.

The Maryland Wilderness is featured in the Children's Zoo and represents the animals, birds and reptiles of the state. Included in the exhibit are domesticated animals like goats and sheep and typical farm animals. This part of the zoo has a lot of interaction to keep young kids interested in discovering more about animal and their habitat. They have Plexiglas enclosures to watch river otter’s underwater, a cave to see bats and snakes and even an ecological tree built with stairs that you walk up inside. At the top of the tree is an optional slide, a favorite with the kids.

One of the first exhibit areas in the zoo, after taking the tram from the entrance, is the Polar Bear Watch. From here you can see the largest predators in the world, Alaska and Magnet, and their newest addition, Anoki. Anoki is on loan from the New Mexico Biological Park in Albuquerque. A unique aspect of this exhibit is an actual Tundra Buggy that is air conditioned and overlooks the water and bear habitat.

Not only is a trip to the zoo a great way to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends it is an opportunity to learn about and discuss how we take care of animals and our surroundings. The zoo is a good day trip that can be educational in many ways. On my last visit, my daughter asked me who was faster, a cheetah or a leopard. I now know it is the cheetah, running at up to 70 miles per hour for long distances compared to about 40 miles per hour in short bursts for the leopard.

The zoo is open every day ten months a year, from March through December, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The hours are 10 am to 4 pm. Tickets can be purchased online or at the gate. Online adult tickets, and weekday gate prices are: $14, children $10 and seniors $12. Weekend rates are: adults $16, children $11, and seniors $13. Parking is free.

Consider an annual family membership for $99 and enjoy a year of great visits.

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