Trip Report: Cincinnati Zoo
One of the attactions I had been meaning to see for some years now, but never quite got around to seeing is "Zoo Babies" Zoo Babies is a special event put on by the Cincinnati Zoo. Yes, you can see the babies all year, but in May they run a theme where they specifically point out all the births in the past year. Essenially you tou the zoo as normal, and wherever there is a zoo baby to be seen, there is a wooden cutout of a stork pointing to the exhibit and announcing the birth.
I learned a few things since last months trip to the zoo. For one I didn't use Metro Route 1, the Zoo route. It's a nice bus ride to be sure, that's long on passing our city's tourist attractions and scenic spots. I figured I could shave at least a half hour off my trip time by using a more local route, even if it meant walking a long block once I got to UC down to the Zoo.
I managed to get to the Zoo around 8:45, which was before opening. I thought they might open Historic Vine Street Villiage a few minutes early, but no luck in the entry building in the parking lot doesn't open until 9AM. "Now, I am going to raise this door, but don't come in until I have the chains locked off" It so happened while people were milling about taking photos with the rhino sculpture, I had planted myself to be directly in front of the up escalator, so was among the first to get up to the bridge at opening. I quickly headed towards the main gate where my progress was slowed down. They have the "Keyhole Photo" type people setup right before the main gates and they have essentially embedded their photo station so you have to stop and get your photo taken before getting to the turnstile. They take your photo in front of a green screen which sort of defeats the purpose of getting a souvenir photo of yourself at the attraction.
I entered the park, and upon checking my iPhone, I looked at both the zoo's new App that has amongst other features an interactive zoo map, an ineractive event schedule,and more, as well as the zoo's website to fill in the gaps. Looking at the zoo's website, I noted the first Zoo Baby was down in Wilflife Canyon. I headed down the hill and soon realized I had the whole area basically to myself. I paused for a while to watch the Sumatran Rhino feeding before continuing to tour the area. When you first get to the zoo its hard to strike a balance between how much time you can spend watching an animal and still see everything you wanted to see.
Coming up the stairs from Wildlife Canyon, the second Zoo Baby was the still nusing baby eagle. I entered the eagle Eyrie and noted the roll down grate as still down, and the eagle and babdy were apparently still in the nest. I then noted a similar hut a short distance away that looks into the condor exhibit. I had not before noticed the big flight cage was actually devided in half. I then decided to reveerse my normal pattern and instead went to the Elephant Reserve next. All the elephants were outside, thus the elephant house was closed, after spenidng some time watching the elephants, I walked the rather dull trail around elephant reserve, walking past Discovery Forest and makig pretty much a bee line towards the new Children's Zoo area.
The new and improve Children's Zoo had reopened, an I headed to where the entrance has been for decades now to learn that entrance is no longer there, and the gift shop was closed. Instead I had to back track to the entrance by Gibbon Islands, which is for now the only entrance to the Children'z Zoo. They reconfigured the boardwalk entrance to wind itself around the little penguins. Upon entering the children's zoo, we found the rathey noisy peacocks in this area today, and I noted the outer wall and shade has been removed from the nursery, so now you just walk along the outside of the building looking in windows. I noted the UC stuff around the bearcat exhibit, and the Wallaby exhibit cleverly sponsored by Kanga-Roof. Several zoo babies were present in the enlarged petting zoo area I also noted the petting zoo area now has a queue area for those busy days. Continuing on past the petting zoo you come to a barn you can walk through, and then another area beyond the barn. Cows, horses and other barnyard animals are in this area. On the other side of the area the playground has been enlarged and the various play elements have signage tying them to an animal. "Swing like a Monkey", "Leap like a frog", etc. The area now ends behind the gift shop, so in effect the new children' zoo is smaller, by making Wolf Woods its own stand alone exhibit now.
I left the children's zoo, and just got to Wings of Wonder to see the sign the Meet the Keeper talk had been cancelled "Sorry, but our keeper's need us" I decided to walk through Wings of Wonder anyway, and this time noted how on the few exhibits with glass, the glass has a fine graph paper like drawing on it, barely noticeable. I suspect this is toprevent birds from flying into the glass. At the endof the area I encountered a Meet the Keeper giving a talk about the penguins. He hada penguin out of the exhibit so we could take real up close looks, but no touching. He mentioned how they have tried to work King into the name of every King Penguin somehow. He also noted the clever camoflage, they usually swin white side down, so to a predator from above, they blend into the dark of the ocean, to a predator from below, they blend into the dazzling white sky.
Leaving his presentation, I proceed down Bear Hill and take a tour of Jungle Trails. Ahh they have the storks out, perfect for Zoo Babies. I also noted the Gibbons and stuff were inside today for some reason. I left this area, noted the food areas were closed, and made my way to Manatee Springs just in time to watch the Meet the Keeper talk there. From Manatee Springs I toured Rhino Reserve, and saw the zebras, as well as most of the other animals were out this time. This allowed me to double back to see Lords of the Artic and the Bear Hill areas. I made my way back around to where Rhino Cafe is and followed the signs towards Cheetah Encounter. You first head into the old parking lot and then after passing the new flamingo exhibit you make your way to the new cheetah run which was the old main parking lot. I got there just as the first sho was ending, so I hung back waiting for the huge crowd to exit the area. I noted construction on a new pedestrain gate in this aea. I sat and relaxed in the new grandstand waiting for the Cheetah show, as it was pretty hot out today. The cheetah show is essentially the old cat show, right down to some of the same animal acts as the old cat show that was presented next to the Elephant House, what has changed, of course was the addition of a full on Cheetah run. One of the largest Cheetah runs in a zoo, they said. It's an impressive show of pure speed, the cheetah may not have endurance, but they do have speed.
From there, I headed up the new ramp to look at the new giraffe exhibit. From there I caught up with seeing the rest of the zoo, first stopping off at Gibbon Islands and the Red Panda exhibit. I then took a break myself with Skyline's new Walking 3 Way. It's essentially everything you would get in a three way mixed together and served in a large diameter cup. I noted most people, like myself, still walked their walking three ways right over to a table to sit down and seat.
Continuing the zoo tour, I decided I really didn't need to see the Reptile House, and did a quick walk through of the Cat House tosee the Zoo Babies. I did make into Gorilla World just in time to see the Meet the Keeper talk there. From there, it was the Insect House where I noted the construction work in the middle of the exhibit looked to be complete, the Nocturnal House, and passed by the speical exhibits building where the Kimodo Dragon is coming next month. Always give your visitor a reason to come back! I toured Lemur Lookout, then headed towards the 4D movie but the next unsold showing was later than I wanted to wait. Continuing on, it was the Sea Lion exhibit, then Wolf Woods, then back to the giraffe exhibit so I could feed a giraffe for just $1. They have this organized real well, you get there and there is a queue area setup. After you wait in line but before you enter the feeding area, there is a push through lane for the strollers so they don't have to take the strollers into the animal encounter area. As you enter the encouter area, a worker with a big old bag of giraffe crackers sells them to you for $1 each. Two rules, don't break the cracker trying to get two feedings, the giraffe expects a whole cracker. Don't try to pet the giraffe, this will only cause them to shy away and may cause the feeding opportunity to end early. Think about it, you don't want people messing with your food an trying to pet you whie you eat. So after buying the cracker you enter the fenced off animal encounter area, sort of like a zone between the normal viewing area and the animal enclosure. A guie directs you to a giraffe, you feed the giraffe, okay the giraffe sticks out its tounge, you drop the cracker onto the tounge the giraffe eats the cracker and prepares for the person behind you. It's a real quick process, and they have the "Keyhole Photo" person there to get a photo of you feeding the giraffe. You then exit and there is a sink with soap there waiting for you.
From the giraffe feeding, I toured the gift shop, bought some souvenirs,and then headed home.
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