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The Maryland Zoo, a renowned institution, serves as a symbol of the area’s dedication to environmental preservation, education, and kid-friendly entertainment.
Join us as we embark on a tour around the magical world of this renowned zoo, where you can have close encounters with animals and enjoy community ties that merge beneath the canopy of Druid Hill Park.
1. The Maryland Zoo
The Maryland Zoo was formerly known as The Baltimore City Zoo or the Baltimore Zoo. It is a protected historic park encompassing 135 acres in historic Druid Hill Park in northeast Baltimore. The Maryland Zoo is certified by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Presently, It houses more than 2,000 animals of nearly 200 species. Maryland Zoo was listed in “America’s Best Zoos 2008”.
The Baltimore Public Board of Park Commissioners was established in 1860 with the first significant public park at Druid Hill. It oversaw the zoo’s operation and supervision for several decades in the 20th century. Later, it was taken over by the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, which operates a branch of the zoo.
In 2004, the zoo ran into financial issues and had to temporarily close parts of the zoo to reduce the size of its holdings. The original Main Valley was closed due to its age and inability to house animals comfortably in its older-style iron-barred cages and stone walls. In addition, the Reptile House, located a short distance away from the main zoo on the other portion of the Park, is also closed. The Zoo reopened the original Main Valley to visitors as a walking path in September 2021, showcasing the zoo’s history and other important historical landmarks.
1.3 Famous Areas and Their Exhibits
The zoo has five main zones: Schaefer Plaza, Zoo Central, Maryland Wilderness, Northern Passage, and African Journey. The Schaefer Plaza area is named after Williams Donald Schaefer, a former Maryland governor and Baltimore mayor. The plaza includes a gift shop, a Celebration Hill playground, the original lion statues from the zoo, and the Black-tailed prairie dog exhibit.
To access the exhibition, visitors must proceed down the old “Main Valley”. Right now, no people are inside the Main Valley enclosures. Visitors can reach Zoo Central for free by a passenger shuttle as well. A carousel, a children’s train ride, and a concession stand are all part of Zoo Central, which spans the northern portion of the African Journey exhibit.
2. African Journey
The African Journey, the zoo’s largest exhibit, features a wide variety of species native to the African continent. These are some of the main exhibits here:
2.1. The African Aviary
The African Aviary offers a walk-through aviary with a diverse selection of avian species, including the African spoonbill, Von der Decken’s hornbill, hamerkop, fulvous whistling duck, Spur-winged lapwing, Red-crested pochard, and Marbled duck.
2.2. The African Watering Hole
The African Watering Hole, on the other hand, is a habitat that is similar to a natural watering hole and is home to a variety of creatures like the dama gazelle (Addra), lesser kudu, saddle-billed stork, white rhinoceros, plains zebra, and ostriches.
2.3. African Overlook
The giraffe viewing area and the lion display are visible from the African Overlook.
2.4. The Chimpanzee Forest
The Chimpanzee Forest offers indoor and outdoor areas for Chimpanzees, Panamanian golden frogs, East African black mud turtles, and slender-snouted crocodiles.
2.5. Elephant Savannah
An expansive observation area allows visitors to the Elephant Savannah to see African Elephants. Okapi, a feeding station, and the giraffe house are all at the Giraffe Crossing.
2.6. Lemur Lane
Lastly, Lemur Lane has a display that includes colobus monkeys, ring-tailed lemurs, and red-ruffed.
3. Maryland Wilderness
Visitors can observe otters swimming above their heads, jumping across lily pads, exploring a cave, or scaling enormous bird nests, which are all displayed as animals that can be found in Maryland.
3.1. The Bog
The endangered bog turtle once featured in “The Bog”, is now found in the meadow tunnel.
3.2. The Stream
You can find a man-made stream full of ducks and other birds from Maryland, like turkey vultures, black-crowned night herons, and Sandhill crane, which may be found at the “Marsh Aviary and Lily Pads” area. Included in “The Stream” are eastern hellbenders and river otters. In a submerged archway, visitors can observe otters swimming by. The original Red fox display has been converted into a Bobcat and common snapping turtle exhibit nearby.
3.3. The Cave
“The Cave”, a life-size, intricately carved representation of a cave, features a variety of small exhibits, including Seba’s short-tailed bats and red-spotted newts.
Snakes are the most common natural reptiles and amphibian animals in “Giant Tree and Slide.” Children can pleasantly return to the ground by sliding down.
The “Meadow” is home to creatures like broadhead skinks, American toads, and Eastern box turtles. Children can stick their heads through big, bubble-like windows that protrude from the ground.
3.6. The Farmyard
The highlight of “The Farmyard” is a petting area with amiable African pygmy goats and a Nigerian dwarf called “Goat Corral.” Cotswold sheep, Indian peafowl, a miniature donkey, a lionhead rabbit, and other creatures are also featured in this section.
4. Northern Passage
The Northern Passage at the Maryland Zoo gives visitors a rare chance to discover the varied animals of the Northern Hemisphere. This interactive zoo area features creatures and ecosystems from Europe, the Arctic, and North America.
The Arctic exhibit, one of the Northern Passage’s standout features, allows guests to observe the joyful activities of polar bears as they swim and play in a fantastic pool. These amazing species can be seen up close in the underwater viewing area. The exhibition also includes Arctic foxes and grey seals in addition to polar bears.
Visitors can see various North American wildlife further down the trail, including bald eagles, river otters, and bobcats. The Eurasian lynx and red-crowned crane exhibition at the Northern Passage also takes visitors to the wilds of Europe.
5. Penguin Coast
African penguin displays in the Zoo’s Northern Passage and African Journey locations debuted on September 27, 2014. Visitors may get up close and personal with approximately 60 African black-footed penguins (and counting). They can experience Great white pelicans in a lifelike recreation of their natural habitat along the South African coast and islands. A tidal pool that gives the birds the appearance of being on a wave is visible through an underwater viewing glass.
Visitors can observe the penguins being fed in the morning and the afternoon, providing an additional window into their everyday lives.
Additionally, Penguin Coast has an interpretive structure with a multipurpose area for educational activities and animal demonstrations, restrooms, and inside space for special events.
6. Future Plans
The Zoo unveiled a ten-year master plan on August 23, 2022, to improve experience and add more animal habitats. Additionally, it will include a new area named “Americas” that will house porcupines, wolverines, and a bigger grizzly bear exhibit. The Gateway Building, which houses a variety of reptiles and amphibians, including the Gila monster and Asian water monitor, will be located near the entrance.
Additionally, an events plaza will be established at the Crane Barn. Habitats for Steller’s sea eagles and gibbons will be constructed in the Main Valley. The bald eagle, snowy owl, and red wolf will have new homes in the Maryland Wilderness. A ropes course, splash pad, and safari camp will also be built.