Search This Blog

Friday, December 16, 2016

Zoo Review Updates

Last December, I decided that instead of reviewing a new zoo or aquarium, I would give updates on what has changed at some of the facilities I’ve already visited.  Another year has passed, so I thought it would be a good time to give another overview of what’s changed at those facilities.

The Cape May County Zoo has opened a new snow leopard habitat, the latest in a series of new cat habitats at the zoo.  New enclosures for small primates are next on the zoo’s plan.

Following the opening of the award-winning Penguin Coast, the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is taking things slow.  At the time of my last visit, a bobcat exhibit was under construction in the zoo’s Maryland Wilderness/Children’s Zoo area.

Across town, the National Aquarium in Baltimore made waves earlier this year with its announcement that it would be sending its dolphins to a sanctuary in the Caribbean (yet to be built).  No word yet on what the aquarium will replace the hugely popular exhibit with.

Salisbury Zoo suffered some major flooding, but isn’t letting that hold back the construction of several new exhibits.  Discover Australia (home to wallabies and Australian birds) and a new reptile house are slated to open in 2017.

Last year, I expressed my deep disappointment that the Smithsonian National Zoo had shuttered its excellent Invertebrate House.  Spineless wonders are making a comeback at the zoo, however, as a new coral lab has opened up in the zoo’s Amazonia building.  The zoo is also raising funds for an additional aquatic exhibit, this one highlighting electric eels.  Outside of pandas, the big news at the zoo is the closure of the historic bird house as its prepares for renovation and reopening as Experience: Migration, a migration-themed bird display.

Virginia Zoo faded out on iconic African species – elephants – but gained another – cheetahs.  The zoo also reopened a renovated Farm Yard, complete with a rodent house.  This year, Norfolk also unveiled its plans to completely renovate its reptile house, with underwater viewing of crocodilians as the star exhibit.

Mill Mountain Zoo lost its AZA accreditation, not through any animal care issues at the facility, but rather because of its precarious finances.  Fortunately, the community is rallying around the zoo, and there is pressure on the City of Roanoke to give the zoo some stronger support.

Riverbanks Zoo unveiled a new exhibit for sea lions and seals, complete with underwater viewing.

At the time of my most recent visit, Milwaukee County Zoo had a new North American River Otter exhibit under construction.  The zoo is also preparing for a much larger habitat for its elephants.  To my disappointment, the new exhibit is slated to be on the site of two of Milwaukee’s finest exhibits – its moose and wolf displays (I mean, you can see elephants in more places than you can moose).

Lincoln Park Zoo opened up its new Robert and Mayari Pritzker Penguin Cove.  Located just outside of Regenstein African Journey, the new habitat for African penguins allows the birds to be viewed above or below the water, or as they build nest burrows on the shoreline.  If that wasn't enough, the brand new Walter Family Arctic Tundra just opened up, bringing polar bears (well, so far in the singular) back to the zoo.  The two part habitat features two pools for diving, an ice cave, and a grassy meadow (which I really approve of - too many zoo polar bear exhibits are just concrete and water).  Next on the zoo's list is a renovation of its historic Kovler Lion House.  The tiger exhibit will be phased out and reincorporated into a new, expanded lion habitat.
I wasn't at Lincoln Park early enough this year to catch the new penguin or polar bear exhibits, but I did get my first look at the extraordinary Regenstein Macaque Forest, which opened last year.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo opened a new habitat for Amur tigers on its Northern Trek.  The new habitat provides several times the space of the old one, and allows visitors to observe the world's biggest cats from a variety of vantage points, including the chance to watch the tigers utilize overhead shift tunnels.

It’s been a rough year for Cincinnati Zoo, but that didn’t stop the zoo from unveiling a long-awaited new hippopotamus exhibit, one of several new hippo habitats popping up around the country.

Perhaps the biggest zoo exhibit of the year is the news Plains of Africa at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo.  Everything Henry Doorly does, they do huge, and this is no exception.  African elephants, white rhinos, giraffes, and impalas roam grassland yards, with lions and cheetahs nearby.  The elephants in question are part of the controversial import of animals slated to be culled in Swaziland earlier this year, and seem to be adjusting well to life in America.  The new lion exhibit is a first step towards the complete renovation of the zoo's outdated Cat Complex.

No comments:

Post a Comment