As one of the oldest zoos in America, the Maryland Zoo boasts 140 years in the community. Situated within Druild Hill Park in near central Baltimore, the zoo covers 135 acres. The Zoo's inhabitants represent nearly 200 species of animals, with everything that soars, swims and scurries.
Accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA), the organization maintains the highest levels of care for the animals, as well as engages in conservation efforts. The Maryland Zoo delivers its mission to "inspire and educate people to join with it in the active support and conversation of wildlife and wild places," to 400,000 visitors each year.
The Zoo's long history begins in 1860, then the city of Baltimore purchased some 600 acres of land to be the future site of Druild Hill Park. In 1876, part of the land was dedicated to the public exhibition of a zoological collection, making Maryland Zoo the third oldest in the country. From the original collection of deer and sheep, the Zoo's inhabitants grew throughout the next several decades to include bears, geese, swans, foxes, monkeys, prairie wolves, wild cats, and many more. In 1925, the Zoo welcomed its first elephant, funded partly through the donations of pennies from local children.
The Zoo continued to grow through the twentieth century, adding the Giraffe House in 1966, the Kodiak Bear Exhibit in 1975, and the Lion Exhibit in the 1980s, just to name a few. By 2014, the Zoo was a major player not only in exhibitions, but conservancy as well, with the largest breeding colony of African penguins in North America. Actively involved in education as well, the Maryland Zoo offers programs and services to bring animal awareness to everyone. The Zoo expects to see continued growth and focus on conservation in the coming years, including more species survival plans, with a particular emphasis on elephants, penguins and gold frogs.
The Maryland Zoo is home to many animal exhibits that guests can explore during their visit. These include birds, mammals, reptiles, penguins, elephants and more. Interactive and engaging, these exhibits enable guests to view creatures in naturalistic habitats, learning about how these creatures interact in the wild. From feathery fliers to slimy swimmers, there is plenty to see and experience at the Maryland Zoo.
With one of the largest colonies in the Country, the Penguin Exhibit is a must see at the Maryland Zoo. Penguin Coast, the new African Penguin exhibit, creates a space that not only enables visitors to view these beautiful birds, but also provides the enhanced habitat for housing, breeding and penguin care. In addition to this new exhibit, the Zoo also offers Penguin Encounters shows. Offered twice daily, these up-close experiences include a tour of the exhibit with a keeper, photo opportunities and even animal interactions.
The Zoo's collection of mammals is extensive, from some of the smallest to the biggest animals to walk the Earth. The big cat collection includes leopards, cheetahs, and African lions. Other African animals include the Reticulated giraffe, southern white rhino, Nigerian dwarf goat, anglo Nubian goat, and the addragazelle. These represent just a few of the dozens of mammals found at the Zoo.
The Zoo is also home to many species of bird, from colorful toucans to black crowned cranes. This wide range includes carrion consuming black vultures, awe inspiring bald eagles, and beautifully balancing flamingos. The park's ponds are home to many species of water birds, including wood ducks, cattle egret and trumpeter swans.
If it has scales or a shell, if it slithers or slinks, if it hisses or snaps, it might be found in the Maryland Zoo's reptile collection. The Zoo's turtles include bog turtles, wood turtles, spotted turtles, and the common snapping turtle, not to mention the leopard and spur-thigh tortoise. Snakes include Indian python, mole kingsnake, timber rattlesnake, boa constrictors and many more. The Zoo's reptile collection even boasts an African slender-snouted crocodile.
The collection of amphibians at the Maryland Zoo boasts a well cultivated collection of fascinating specimens. The Panamanian Gold Frog, with its vibrant yellow and black skin was once prized as a good luck charm in pre-Columbian times. The African Bullfrogs, some of the largest frogs around, are part of the collection, and are used in the Zoo's Embassy program for education. Native to North America, the red spotted newt is an example of a native species at the park, featured in the Maryland Wilderness exhibit. Other amphibians include the eastern tiger salamander, eastern hellbender, and the much more benign sounding Mudpuppy, a large, north American salamander.
Since the Zoo's first elephant, Mary Anne, came to the zoo in the 1920s, the organization has had a special place for these animals. Heavily involved in preservation and conservation, the organization opened African Journey, an elephant facility in 1985. This was expanded in 2007 with plans to create a space that would enable the heard to grow and thrive. These spaces and the special creatures within them serve as educational areas and animal ambassadors to raise awareness for elephants in the world, furthering the Zoo's conservation mission.
The Maryland Zoo has many projects through which its supports wildlife and habitat conservation worldwide. One area of particular focus for the organization is the protection of African black footed penguins. This already threatened species faced further peril in 2000 due to an oil spill off the coast of South Africa. Staff from the Maryland Zoo assisted with the clean-up and recovery efforts. With the largest captive population of these penguins in country, the conservation efforts of the Zoo have potential for significant impact on the success of the species. In addition, the organization partners with Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch, which educates consumers on seafood product choices that have the least negative impact on the environment and animal habitats.
Penguins aren't the only recipient of the Zoo's conservation efforts. Other programs include Polar Bears International, which educates the public about polar bear conservation and the impacts of climate change on polar bear habitats. The Zoo's well-designed polar bear exhibit gives visitors a small glimpse of what these majestic creatures have in the wild, furthering the story of conservation, protection and activism. Another conservation program of the Zoo is Project Golden Frog, which is working to prevent the extinction of the Panamanian golden frog. The species has suffered from disease that has left them functionally extinct in the wild. The Zoo's successful breeding program has resulted in the largest colony in North America.
Conservation is more than captive breeding programs, however, it is educating the next generation to think, act and work differently to protect animals and their habitats. The Maryland Zoo is committed to these efforts through its ongoing outreach and education programs. This includes free field trips for Maryland students, including public, private and home school attendees. If the students can't come to the Zoo, the Zoo will go to the students, with an outreach program that travels to local campuses, libraries, centers, and more in the ZOOmobile, bringing animal ambassadors to educate audiences about animals. Other educational resources include teacher trainings, self-guided zoo treks and focused learning sessions at ZOOlabs. In addition to these activities and resources, the Zoo also offers educational summer camp programs for students aged five to twelve.
With a variety of events to engage and entertain, the Maryland Zoo is more than just observing exhibits. These interactive activities create special memories and moments for visitors of all ages. These events include such themes as Animal Craft Safari, which creates crafts from recycled materials while learning about the Zoo's African Penguins. Zoo Snooze provides guests the opportunity for a sleepover at the zoo, complete with dinner, breakfast, campfire stories, and nocturnal animal observations. Other events include the annual See Spots Run 8k race, Zoo Boo Halloween Event, and Everyone's a Kid Day the first Tuesday of every month, where adults' tickets are the price of a child's, among many others. These are in addition to daily events and shows such as Keeper Chats, Penguin Feedings and Creature Encounters.
Visitors are advised to check the calendar of events prior to arrival in order to make the most out of a visit to the Maryland Zoo. Events and Zoo hours, which are subject to change, are available on the Zoo's website. Parking is free and available onsite and the Park is easily accessible from major freeways. For those looking for a little more from the Zoo, the Behind the Scenes tour takes visitors to one of several areas to see the working of the Zoo, how the staff care for the animals, and see special areas off limits to the general public. Shops and restaurants at the park provide plenty of opportunities for refreshment, or to pick up a special souvenir to commemorate your memories of the Maryland Zoo.
1876 Mansion House Drive, Baltimore, Maryland 21217, Phone: 443-552-5245
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