Zoos Visited in the USA

State Names Beginning With:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Foreign



Phoenix - Out of Africa

This is a wildlife park devoted to big cats. Lions, leopards, bengal tigers and white tigers are the main animals on exhibit. They also have a small aviary, Serengeti Plains where Graves Zebras and reticulated giraffes live. The park is 25 acres and will be moving in June 2004 to the Sedona area where they have 100 acres. Other habitats have prairie dogs, warthogs, ring tailed lemurs, reptiles, grey wolves, and lizards. The cats are the feature with the keepers actually going in the habitats and playing with the cats. The owners, Dean and Bobi, live on site and do most of the narrative for the shows. The shows are designed to be educational and to show the visitor how the cats think and work with prey and protect their kill. They have Siberian tigers in with leopards but when the keepers go in the habitat they move the leopard out to another habitat so they won't have to keep an eye on him. One of the tigers had a habit of sucking on Bobi's thumb as a cub. Well, he never out grew this habit and she sat beside him while he slurped on her thumb. They use stuffed animals or other colorful toys tied to poles to play with the tigers. Usually the swim play toys were balloons or balls tied in burlap bags. The tigers respond to these toys and will not go after the humans. Of course they keep an eye pealed at all times and have meat readily available to divert the cat. The keepers can pet and stroke the tigers with no problem. Another show in the afternoon is the Tiger Splash. They move 2 tigers into the pool area where 4 keepers will work with them. Again using toys tied on poles they entice the tigers to follow them and jump into the water. About 1/3 of the time the tigers would take a flying leap into the water. However, most of the time the tigers stopped at the water's edge. The habitats are used by many animals. They continually move the animals from one habitat to another so they have a different area to explore. Keepers are very available to talk with.


Tucson - Sonora Desert Museum


Not really a full fledged zoo, but includes animals such as coatis, javalinas, wolves, coyote, black bear, deer, prairie dogs, chuckwalla, tortoise, beaver, otter, bobcat, ocelot, jaguarondi, and lots of birds. They have a hummingbird habitat with 12 different species.  Of course, their feature is desert plants and cactus. The Sonora Desert is a very complex desert that encompasses a variety of climates, fauna, and animals.

Tucson - Reid Park Zoo


Reid Park Zoo is a lovely small but high quality zoo.  The zoo uses every square inch of its property for beautiful animal habitats and lovely walkways for the visitors.  Each habitat is designed to provide quality stimulation along with flowing water, bushes, and artificial rocks/boulders where the animal could be off exhibit.  A baby giraffe was born on 7/5/00 at 9 am and we saw it scampering around the habitat on 7/8/00.  Denver, the mom was starting to give birth on Wednesday morning when the keepers decided to allow her to go into the outdoor yard.  Thus, in view of the visitors she gave birth to a baby girl, Tomasina or Tommy.  She was named after their veterinarian who passed away a month ago.  Chatting with the keeper, he said that the giraffe population is very inbred and there has to be some thinking along the lines of what options are available.  Denver apparently is related to her mate and father of Tommy.  As we were watching Tommy, we could tell she was only days old, for she really didn't have sturdy footing.  She did stray from mom quite a bit, but Denver is a very devoted and nurturing mother. 

The zoo also has a 9-month-old baby speckled bear that was born on Oct 26, 1999.  Other animals at the park included a polar bear, elephants, white rhinos, white-handed gibbons, mandrills, and lion-tailed macaques.

The zoo had many volunteers and also supported a teen volunteer program.



Little Rock Zoo


Little Rock Zoo is an old zoo which has difficulty getting an infusion of money to improve the facilities. We were able to talk with Ann the primate keeper and meet the gorillas and orang utans. They have two male Sumatran orang utans,Rok and Juara both 18 year olds. Juara was late in getting his male characteristics and recently the two of them had a knock down fight where Roc almost lost his testicles and Juara had a chunk torn out of his head. Now, of course, they are separated. The habitats for the chimps, gorillas, and orang utans are large outdoor yards with lots of climbing ropes, platforms, and streams. There are no indoor viewing facilities so when it is cold or bad weather, like today when we arrived it started raining, you don't see many animals.

They just received two breeding female gorillas from Toronto Zoo to be mated with Rocky, but unfortunately he died of heart failure. So now they have to get a suitable male. They have another four gorillas that make up a family which they don't want to separate.

The zoo has many old stone buildings which are primarily used as habitats. One building was refurbished into a rain forest and the surrounding rooms were for small primates such as the pigmy slow loris, white faced saki, Douroucouli, Talapoin monkey, dwarf lemur, two toed sloth, and red capped mangabey. Other species in the collection include Asian elephants, reticulated giraffes, chimps, Damara zebras, lions, cabyabara, ocelot, bobcat, clouded leopard, and maned wolves.


Sacramento Zoo

Saturday August 14th we visited the Sacramento Zoo and talked with Rob the primate keeper for about 30 minutes. The zoo has 3 orang utans, 2 females and one male. Josephine and Baldy had Urban Orange in 1980. Baldy died and Josephine is now at the San Diego zoo. Urban is 19 and has Ginger who is 34 and Sayang who is 16. Rob said that Sayang is considered the number 1 orang in the country for she is wild caught. She came from Yerkes to Sacramento this year. They were told she was an escape artist which turned out to be true. The plants around the perimeter of the exhibit were getting long and the leaves drooped into the moat area. At lunchtime Saline braided the leaves together and climbed out of the moat and sat in the bushes munching on the leaves. People watched and took pictures of the escape! A keeper went over to the bushes, parted them and she jumped back into the moat. Sayang seems more interested in Ginger than in Urban so thus far no mating has occurred. She just recently started her estrus cycles. Rob took us into the back rooms. They have room enough to house 5 orang utans, so at this time Sayang and Ginger have double rooms and Urban has the larger room. When Sayang first arrived at the zoo and got acquainted with Urban they decided to allow the door between their two cages to be ajar for Sayang to come and go as she wished. They found that Sayang would gather up all the burlap and toys and be nested in Urban's cargo net with Urban sitting in the corner. This became frustrating for him and they stopped this procedure.

The environment for the orang utans is a moated barrier free area with a rock backdrop and a waterfall. There are tree limbs and ropes to climb upon. There are rocks and they can access the moat. There are no cargo nets or other platforms to sit upon.

The zoo has a colony of 5 chimpanzees, Josey who is 51, 2 males and 2 recently introduced chimps a male and a female. The new female is tumescent and the new male copulated with her several times. The older males setup up quite a racket along with the new female. Josey stayed out of the ruckus. This happened several times. When it is feeding time, all chimps are taken into their individual cages and fed. They know that Josey is the first one to be fed and if she isn't there they must wait for her. Well today she lagged behind and the door was closed. She sat there and waited. The door opened, the younger female came out followed by the rest of the group. The young female came over to Josey, reached out to take her hand and lead her back to her cage.

The chimp environment is a large oval high ceiling glass walled area. The interior has plants, trees, and ropes to climb upon. The walls above the glass area are accessible, as is the ceiling. There is a large termite mound that has holes that are filled with food such as juice, applesauce, and honey. They use tools to access this food.

San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo was the leader in developing the natural habitats for the animals.  The zoo is world renown for its quality and quantity of animals and its research.  The zoo has a number of rare species from bonobos, pigs, hoofed stock, and birds.  The Gorilla trail leads down into a canyon and the gorillas have a large hillside habitat with 3-4 viewing windows.  There are lots of boulders and trees in the habitat so the gorillas can easily be off exhibit if they desire.  There are 5 Sumatran orang utans: Clyde, born August 23, 1976; Josephine, wild caught, born June 1960 Sato, born March 26, 1995; another Indah, like the DC zoo, born July 23, 1986; and Karen born June 11, 1992. There are 3 Bornean orang utans: Ken-Allen, born February 13, 1971; Janey, wild caught, born January 1962; and Violet, born November 19, 1977.  Each of their habitats has one large viewing window where there are boulders, hammocks, and "trees".  The Sumatran habitat has a termite mound where food is places for the orang utans to use tools to extract the food from the holes. San Diego is one of the few zoos that has a family group of bonobos.  Three viewing areas allow the visitors to see the entire habitat, yet there are rocks, trees and bushes so the bonobo can be off exhibit. 

The zoo also has the first panda baby born in the US by artificial insemination last year. The male is 20 years old and apparently wasn't to adept at mating and the female is around 8, so they are not really a compatible couple.  I missed the viewing of the pandas for they were off view during the hottest part of the day, either 11:30 or noon till 4 pm.  The zoo has two polar bears that have a large habitat with a big pool for viewing both above and below the water line. The keeper was just finishing putting food around the habitat and the bears came charging in to eat!  Finally one of the bears jumped into the pool to get some of the floating biscuits.

There are 3 young Masai giraffes, two of which were born in January 2000 sired by Silver the male.  Koala bears, tapirs, red hooded pigs, bongos, takins, hippos, rhinos, fishing cats, tigers, okapis, Douc and Francois Langurs, elephants, and meerkats are just some of the species in their vast collection.

San Diego Wildlife Park


Located 35 miles northeast of San Diego, this is a vast habitat for the animals.  Large areas exhibit the species co-mingling such as rhinos, giraffes, and gazelles. The Park has a special permit to grow African grass and must keep it inside the park for it is quick spreading and will take over the environment. There is a train ride around the park to see most of the savannah animals. Elephants, gorillas, bonobos, tigers, and lions are all in their own special habitats.  The lions and tigers were cooling off some other place and not visible to the visitors. A new exhibit is the condor habitat.  Access to the condor habitat is via a large botanical garden. The topical forest with small birds and butterflies also has a lovely leaf cutter ant display.  A large liana is stretched for about 30 feet to a source of leaves.  The ants are busy cutting the leaves and walking on top of the liana back to their nest.  Unfortunately the nest cannot be seen. 

San Francisco, California Zoo

Friday August 13, 1999 we visited the San Francisco zoo. There are two orang utans at the SF zoo. Chewy who is at the Calgary zoo came from San Francisco. Chewy was raised with chimps and his behavior was very chimp like so when he approaches a female orang he tries his chimp behavior, which is not acceptable. Rob, the keeper in Sacramento told us this. We talked with Amy the primate keeper here at SF. They have Rusty who is 34 and is a favorite with the visitors. Lips, the 18-year-old female just came to SF and is still getting acquainted with Rusty. She is not a high priority female for mating and neither is Rusty for he has too many offspring already. The orang utan environment is a moated barrier free area with access to the inside for the orangs. They have 2 such moated areas and both orangs have access to them. There are tree limbs, ropes and platforms.

They had an excellent display on primate power showing the precision grip using knobs that you must turn. It demonstrates how you grip with your thumb and fingers to turn knobs. Also fingers are individually moveable with the example of playing the piano. The display shows the difference between non-opposable, limited opposable and fully opposable thumb-fingers. The thumb mobility is the key. It flexes in one direction for limited opposable and rotates 360 degrees for fully opposable.

The African elephants were very active this morning. One of them was in the pool playing with a large ball. Splashing and jumping and thoroughly enjoying herself!

Santa Barbara Zoo

Santa Barbara Zoo is a quality zoo that focuses on a small number of animals. Most every habitat is open with a moat or water surrounding the environment and containing considerable enrichment for all of the animals. The signage is very informative and is above standard. Many exhibits have 2 or 3 different species in a single habitat such that one animal is a bird living in the trees, a hoofed animal on the ground and possibly turtles or other animals. The Baringo giraffe had cranes and hornbills. One of the giraffes has a severely deformed neck; the vertebrae close to the head made her neck go at 45-degree angle from the rest of the neck. We didn't find anyone to talk with but a visitor said she had been born that way. Animals on exhibit included Asian elephants, ring tailed lemurs, spider monkeys, spectacled languors, tamarins, lowland gorillas, Channel Island foxes, white-handed gibbons, flamingos, lots of turtles and tortoises, and an aquarium. No one was available to talk with and no volunteers. Overall rating is above average. Photos



Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

A great zoo is the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs which is built on a mountainside. New habitats have built for the animals which make full use of the mountainside. The Mexican grey wolves have a beautiful large habitat with lots of shrubbery, rocks, and hillside. The Sumatran tiger and Amur Leopard have hillsides to climb and lots of rocks and shrubbery too. You view these two animals through large windows and from a bridge above the habitat. The eagles have habitats at the top of the mountain so they can gaze far into the distance. The orang utans and gorillas have great outdoor yards but nothing out of the ordinary for the inside. Here are 2 sets of orangs - 3 Borean and 4 Sumatran. There is a baby Sumatran who was born in January 2003 to mother who is 16 yr old. The grandmother is 47 and is one of the oldest in captivity. She is kept by herself for she doesn't want to be with the others. The outdoor habitat is great for climbing and Bacca, the Borean 13 yr old male, climbed up the "netting" to get to the top of the large wooden platform which was the only way to be able to sit there. Two other Borean orangs were 35 years and 7 years old.

You should see the giraffe habitat!! It is called the Riff Valley and there are 28 (yup 28) giraffes in this group. We saw 19 of them running around and people were able to buy crackers and feed them. In addition, they didn't shy too much when you tried to stroke them. There were 2 male youngsters, one who was 6 months and 1 who was 2 yrs. There is only one male stud who is keeping this group of females happy!

Other animals in the collection inlcude hornbills, meerkats, hippos, Komodo Dragon, otters, bears, Andean Condor, African elephants, Okapi, tapirs, howler monkeys, gibbons, lemurs, colobus monkeys, lion tailed macaques, lowland gorillas, and Mexican Gray wolves,

When you visit the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo the only access to the Will Rogers Memorial is through the zoo grounds. For the same price of the zoo ticket you can drive up to the Memorial 5 miles above. This was built by a philanthropist who was very instrumental in the development of Colorado Springs.


Denver Zoo


In 1996 the zoo completed their Primate Reserve that houses the orang utans, gorillas, lemurs, red pandas, mandrills, and a variety of other smaller primates.  The gorillas have about 1 acre of yard space with lots of trees, shrubbery, and rocks to be off exhibit.  There are several viewing areas to allow visitors to view the entire expanse of the long yard and the four gorillas one of whom is a 5+-year-old male.  The orang utan inside area has many ropes to swing on and several cargo nets to rest in.  The outside yard is quite large, about 1/2 acre, with again lots of shrubs, trees, large rocks, and several cargo nets. The zoo has 5 orang utans which cycle on/off exhibit.  Mias is a male born in 1983 and obtained from the Calgary Zoo; Penari is a female born in 1979 and had Alti, female, in 1994 at Yerkes Primate Center. Seluma, female, born in 1967 at Alburquerque Zoo is housed with Robin a very large, 350 pound, male from the Brookville Zoo who was born in 1976. 

The zoo has a master plan for reconstruction, which will redo the cat, elephant, hoof stock, giraffes and main entrance.  They are excited to get started on the rebuilding.  There were lots of docents at the zoo who are generalists and contribute to education, general volunteering, and other activities for the zoo.  We met and talked with Mary Roseberger who is the President of the Docents.  We toured the educational building, which is new and has a lots of convertible classrooms and a volunteer center.  They have over 400 volunteers.  Their badges are neat in that they have an attached bar for 1 year, 5 years, etc, and another bar for the number of volunteer hours, 100, 1000, 1500, etc.

The Tropical Discovery center displays the coral reefs, Pacific fish, rainforest, komodo dragon, and reptiles. Five polar bears, four of which were born here at the zoo, have a very large area.  The two youngest cubs, Ulaq (male) and Berit (female) were born on Dec 28, 1998 to the mother Ulu.  Cats include leopards, snow leopard, serval, cougar, and tigers.

Signage is outstanding.  A husband/wife team from Boulder does the signs.  Each sign is very large with a colored picture of the animal, natural history, diet, interesting facts, and possibly a footprint or something to touch. 


Pueblo Zoo


The little zoo here in Pueblo is a quality zoo, not quantity. Their exhibits are mostly level 2 with stimulation for the animals. The zoo's excellency is the signage. The signage is very educational for they talk about the animal's natural history and some peculiarities of the animal such as hooves. They also have habitats that the native peoples would live, and native foliage to display the entire story of the animal and the lands where they come from.These habitats would be the entry to the viewing area for the animals. Many of the animals are local to the area and/or emphasizing Central Mountain USA animals such as longhorns, bobcats, eagles, raccoons, etc. There are many small historic buildings on the zoo grounds built by the WPA which have been rehabilitated for focused displays. One of the buildings is for the reptiles where they have interesting educational signage along with small aquarium type displays for the snakes, lizards, frogs. The large display has multiple animals such as a Boa, tortoises, and iguanas. There was a bee hive which would become active during the spring/summer months and a display on termites. Another building was the rain forest which had a sloth, birds, acouchi, and tamarins. The sloth even moved and showed his face!

Other animals on display were the Przelwolski horses which are extinct in the Monoglian region. Reintroduction is underway but unfortunately there is inbreeding with wild horses so the international researchers are looking for other isolated areas in Mongolia. A penguin pool was undergoing repair for a leak. Other animals included zebras, waterbuk, ostriches, sun bears, Maned wolfves, and white handed gibbons.


Center for the Great Apes

Center for Great Apes is located at 5843 Van Simmons Road, Wauchula, FL 33873. This is a sanctuary for chimps and orang utans that have been in the entertainment industry, roadside zoos, or personal pets. Patti Ragan is the founder of the sanctuary and has made this a beautiful home for 14 orang utans and 28 chimps. One of the youngest chimps, Knuckles, a four year old, has cerbral palsy. He receives a lot of TLC which enables him to interact with the other chimps. Another chimp was given to them by a man who had the chimp as a pet, consequently the chimp never saw or interacted with another chimp. They are working to reintroduce him to his peers. Three orang utans are housed together, two males and an armless female. She has no problem getting along with the males for she will "boot" them in the back or head when they are doing something she doesn't want done. Another older orang utan has a habitat all to himself and he has tried to escape by tunneling under the fence. Consequently they have put in cement footers around the fence. The unique thing about this sanctuary is the structures that are the living quarters and communication tunnels. Since this is Florida, all outdoor habitats are built with fenced overpasses leading from one housing area to another. The chimps and orangs have the freedom to move anywhere they wish inside these spacious overpasses.


Naples - Caribbean Gardens Naples

Caribbean Gardens is a private zoo with a small but quality animal exhibits and excellent flora. The zoo doesn't reciprocate entry fee with public zoos. The map provided to visitors details the plantings of flowers and trees rather than identifying the animal exhibited. Flora includes bamboo, fig, monkey puzzle, jacaranda, powderpuff tree, teak tree, bird of paradise, orchids, mangrove, oil palm, bottle brush tree, cypress, ferns, philodendrons, mango tree, kapok, papyrus, and many more. Safari Canyon is a show with behavior trained animals including a panther and monitor. Two fellows provide comic interaction as they are telling you about the animals. One short episode was acting like Steve Irwin when he was talking about and showing the monitor. The primate habitats are on islands and a catamaran takes the visitors on a 20 minute tour of the islands. Lemurs, patras monkeys, squirrel monkeys, white handed gibbons, and colobus monkeys. Other animals on exhibit include golden tigers, Bengal tiger, cougars, and alligators.

Miami MetroZoo

The Miami Zoo was devastated in a 1992 hurricane and they are still rebuilding.  In the center there is an African plain with several species of animals, yet the animals are separated by water moats unseen by the viewers.  Visitors could view the animals through glass or walking around the plain. Siamangs were located on an island. 

Orang utans were on exhibit in an outdoor yard.  Talking with a volunteer, the volunteers bring lots of extra food from their fruit trees for the orang utans.  They also wrap up boxes with Christmas paper and have "Christmas for the Orang utans". 

Panama City Zoo

They have two orangs, one male in his 20's and one female in her 30's. One of the fellows at the entry office, who seemed to know a lot, said they recently had one of the orangs die during birth. The orangs, siamangs, and lemurs are out on islands which gives them freedom from cages.

Silver Springs Park, Silver Springs Florida


Silver Springs, a large park with many fresh water springs, features glass bottom boat rides in the springs. Four different rides show the visitors the various animals and waters of the springs. Jeep Safari ride, glass bottom boat, jungle cruise, and lost river ride are the four rides. They have the largest bear exhibit with lots of room for the brown bear and two spectacled bears. Since this is Florida they feature lots of alligators and snakes. They have the largest alligator and crocodile on exhibit. Shows featuring birds, reptiles, and animal encounters are available. A baby giraffe was born on March 1, 2001. Most weekends they have a full schedule of concerts.

Tampa - Lowry Zoo

Water moats, water falls, water all around the animal habitats makes the Lowry Park Zoo one of the best. Each of the habitats is rich with shrubs, pools, and trees. The water is all recycled. The animals have shade and places to hide. The zoo features quality over quantity. The orang utan habitat was completely redone in 2000 and now houses 6 orang utans. The habitat features a large "jungle gym" composed of platforms, ropes, and hammocks for the orang utans to climb upon. Rango, the 27 year old Bornean male, recently fathered two babies in 1999. Birundi, male, was born June 27, 1999 to the 16 yr old female and Ruby was born Oct 5, 1999 to Deedee who is 21. The third female is going to be transferred to the Erie zoo shortly where a male is awaiting her. The two babies are very active climbing around on the ropes and are beginning to play together. Ruby tends to stay closer to mom than Birundi. Others in the primate collection include ring-tailed and red-ruffed lemurs, siamangs, howler monkeys, manadrills, colobus monkeys, and chimpanzees. We learned that colobus is Greek for "mutilated" for they have lost their thumbs through mutation. Without thumbs their brachiating skills are better

The zoo features a Manatee exhibit which has a hospital with three recovery pools for injured manatees. Where possible the Manatees are rehabilitated and returned to the wild. Four Manatees are swimming around the two large exhibit pools munching on heads of lettuce. Przewalski horses, Malayalan tapirs, Siberian tigers, panther, Indian rhinoceros, bison, grey fox, and red wolf rounds out the animal collection.



Zoo Atlanta

Zoo Atlanta has outstanding habitats for their gorillas and orang utans. The habitats are hillsides with logs, hammocks, platforms, and places to climb and hide. Chantek, the orang utan that knows sign language, is here at Atlanta. However today he was not on exhibit. They have two Bornean orang utans (8 and 9 years old) and five Sumatran orang utans. Allen (1971) and Hati (1978) are two of the Sumatran orang utans and Sulango (male 1992) and Miri (female 1993) are the two Borean orang utans. Among the other exhibits are three Masai giraffes, three African elephants, rhinos, several monkey species, and two pandas. There are three US zoos "renting" pandas from China to the tune of $1 million per year for ten years - San Diego, Atlanta, and DC. Memphis has their permit request submitted. There are two families of gorillas. Willie B, wild caught and named after a former governor, died in Feb 2001. He has fathered a number of young at the zoo. The zoo does not have a wide variety of animals but what they do have is quality.


Chicago - Brookville Zoo


 Three orang utans out of eight were on exhibit. One was a mother with her three-month-old (born in May) and another juvenile, which we never did see. The mother and offspring were Bornean. There were several docents around with whom we talked. They told us that in the mid 80’s an additional skylight had to be added to the building for they found that more sunlight was required. Apparently, the orangs secrete a chemical caused by the sunlight to keep them healthy.

Niabi Zoo, Moline Illinois


Niabi Zoo is a small zoo with mostly older type environments for the primates and cats.  Primates consist of a variety of lemurs, white-handed gibbon, and colobus monkeys. The interior cage was level 1, but each did have a nice outdoor yard with some enrichment approaching level 2.  The reptile house was very nice in that each reptile box had wood, water, artificial plants and a painted background that blended in with the environment.  In addition, music was played in the house.  The zoo is noted for its 1 elephant, Kathy Sh-Boom.  They had several cats - lions, leopards, and cougar - but because of the rain they were indoors and we couldn't see them.  The zoo will be undergoing major reconstruction soon with a focus on themed areas. 


Indianapolis Zoo

WOW!!  This zoo opened in 1988 and took advantage of the advances made in the open environment for animals.  Lots of beautiful foliage is planted all around the zoo including in the animal yards.  The zoo features 4 main areas: Water, Desert, Plains, and Forest.  The Water exhibit features beautiful aquariums with black tipped sharks, reef fish, chambered nautilus, anemones, sea lions, penguins, puffins, walrus, and a lovely Amazon exhibit.  The Desert area has an educational section all about snakes.  A very original and exquisite display for snakes is a 2x2x2 cube with small colored stones to accent or compliment the color of the snake.  A simple colored glass or ceramic container or pieces of colored tile are placed on the stones for the snake.  Their use of water to separate the animals from each other and the viewers from the animals is well done.  In the building where the penguin tank is housed there are two tanks for the penguins, and a tunnel underneath the floor connects them so the penguins have access to both areas.  Two-month-old giraffes were seen only from the little train that circumnavigates the Plains area as was the 2-month-old African elephant which was the result of artificial insemination.  The Forest section had tigers, otters, bald eagle and Kodiak Bears.  This is a fabulous zoo with their high quality environments for the animals.

We visited the zoo in June 2010 and it is still the Top Zoo in the USA. The signage is excellent; the habitats are wonderful with several animals roaming around in them. the elephant area has lots of grass. The flowers and shrubbery around the zoo is complimentary to the habitats. The one down side is that the volunteers who are docents are not that great, they need more training. Most of the ones that we talked with were young high school kids and they were not well trained in the information about the animals. None knew the number of teeth in a rhino or lion skull. The volunteers at the tiger exhibit were outgoing and personable. The ones at the Dolphin area were bored and didn’t want to interact with the public.  The zoo is divided into several large habitat areas – Desert, Forest, Plains, and Oceans. The aquarium in the Oceans is well done. The displays of the snakes in the desert pavilion are unique. The snakes are put in contrasting colored stones in a 2x2 cubicle.  Orangutans are coming to the zoo from the Great Ape Trust and Rob Shumaker is already at the Indy Zoo as the VP of Life Sciences. The Orangutan exhibit is planned for 2013 including O-lines. Included in the admission is a dolphin show and butterfly exhibit. Animals include tigers, lions, African elephants, reticulated giraffes. cheetahs, meerkats, lizards, snakes, turtles, seals/sea lions, polar bears, walruses, dolphines, Alaskan brown bears, gibbons, eagle, and ring tailed lemurs. A MUST SEE Zoo


Blank Park Zoo, Des Moines

The Blank Park Zoo is on the SE side of Des Moines and was originally a children's zoo. They have a very nice Discovery Center which houses a small aviary for finches, marmosets, bats, coral reef, jellyfish, and other free ranging birds. We quickly walked around the zoo for we had only 30 minutes until it closed. Tortoises, lemurs, otters, flamingos, snow monkeys, giraffes, bongos, servals, gibbons, tigers, lions, sea lions, seals, penguins, prairie dogs, and wallabys are in very nice habitats. Small but nice zoo.


Great Ape Trust

The Great Ape Trust is a private facility with a mission is to understand the origins and future of culture, language, tools and intelligence of great apes. See the detailed writeup with pictures.



Kansas City Zoo (actually in Illinois)

Well, cross off the Kansas City Zoo…the one word to describe it is boredom. The zoo has a large amount of acreage and you walk and walk and walk and rarely see an animal. The zoo is a mixture of new and old. The initial exhibits which include the orang utans are oldish. The Borean orang utan habitat is a geodesic dome that allows the apes to climb and to go into the indoor bedrooms. It makes it very difficult to take pictures through this fencing. There are 5 orang utans. Jill is a 27 year old female who has a 2 yr old baby (female), Josie. Josie and Jill have the outdoor habitat while Rufus comes and goes along the causeway between the indoor bedrooms and the outdoor habitat. He is not allowed in with Jill. There is another 43 year old female, Uracca, who is inside. The father of Josie is Doc who has since died. As you walk to the orang utan exhibit you pass by some level 2 habitats with small monkeys and lemurs. After you leave the orang utan habitat you come to Australia. We didn't walk back through this area but returned to the orang utan exhibit to talk with Steve the keeper.

We then headed toward the Africa area which is a huge expanse of land with only a single entry way. The layout of the zoo does not make for easy transit for you have to back track to exit an area. There is only one way in and out of the Africa area which makes it a very long walk without many views of animals. They have the territory but for some reason or other there were no animals to be seen in the expanses of land. We walked for what seemed one mile before we saw the hippos. There were elephants at the beginning but they were all gathered around the doorway back to their night stalls by 3 pm. They did have giraffes and a black rhino baby but they were not out on exhibit around 3:30-4. The expanse of land doesn't look very enticing for the animals for it is barren. The zoo does incorporate wetlands that are lovely to walk through with lots of trees and bridges over wet areas, lakes, and streams. The gorilla habitat is a lovely large area where we only saw one silverback. The lions had another lovely habitat where there was a male with is pride of 4 females just lying about.

Sadly the zoo has very poor signage. They must be in a redevelopment plan for there are many areas where you see there were signs and now just the simple word "remove". I wonder what the zoo does in the winter time for there are no indoor exhibit areas for the public to view animals. All of the areas are outdoors. We spent 4 hours at the zoo and I would recommend that you pass this one by.


Louisville - Louisville Zoo

We visited the Louisville Zoo after a major rainstorm. The zoo is designed such that the public enjoys the views of the animals in their outdoor habitats. Because of the rain very few of the animals were outside. The zoo is organized around several themes - Gorilla Forest, African Outpost, Australian Walkabout, Herpaquarium, and Islands Exhibit. The orang utan, rockhopper penguins, and Sumatran tiger are in the Islands Exhibit and were essentially off exhibit today. They do have a day room which is indoors and it appears that they cycle the tapir, orang utan, and tiger in this habitat. Today the male orang utan was sitting in the habitat that was very comfortable for him. There were no volunteers or keepers available with whom we could talk. Most of the habitats are level 3, but they appear to be very small which looks like they only have one or two animals to share the habitat. We did see the 4 Masai giraffes, 2 lions, 2 rhinos, snow leopard, jaguer, Guanacos, komodo dragon, sea lions, seals, tortoises, a family of 2 silverbacks and 3 female gorillas along with a batchelor group of 5 gorillas. The elephants, tapirs, tiger, siamangs, pygmy hippo, warthogs, lemurs, rheas, and wallabys were no where to be seen. The signage was mostly devoted to telling about the specie and neglected to tell any facts about the zoo's collection. For example the signs would give age but I believe the age was the age range in the wild, not the age of the animal in the exhibit.


New Orleans - Audobon Zoo

The orang utan colony has a 35 year old male (Frankie), 30+ female who is blind (I think her name is Mommo), 28 yr female, two 10-11 yr old females and a three year old female (Blaze). They were very active in the morning as we watched their antics. Their environment consists of leafless trees, cargo net suspended from the trees, two platforms, six ropes, a moat in the front and a rock wall with a cave in the back. They had several boxes as toys and were playing with them both sitting in them and tearing them apart to put over their heads. One of the young females approached the blind female sitting on the platform eating. There is a rope suspended from the tree behind her to another tree so she can extend her arm and grab the rope. Well, the young orang grabs the rope and climbs up the tree and re-drapes the rope so that it doesn't hang near the blind orang. Before we knew she was blind, we saw her reaching for the rope several times. About ten minutes later, the 28 yr old female comes over to the tree, climbs up and repositions the rope the way it is supposed to be!!! Then she climbs to the top of the tree and peers over into the siamang yard where they were making noise to check out what was happening. This was so enjoyable watching them playing.



Kisma Preserve (formerly Acadia Zoo)

The zoo is now a preserve taking in animals from the circus or pet trade. They are home to a number of unwanted animals and changed their focus from Zoo to preserve.  They have only a few animals to look at when you first walk in, but with a guide they take you to the other animals behind the scenes. Up front they have a llama, wolves, birds, monkeys, lemurs, and alligators. With a guide we went back to see the moose, deer, Siberian tiger, Tigon (cross between a tiger and lion), cougar, and black bear.  They have 3 moose including a year old youngster and apparently were one of the first to breed moose in captivity.  The preserve has very long written descriptions of the animals and sometimes they are too small to read from a distance. The guides are very knowledgeable and impart a lot of information. The day we were there about 5 summer camp groups came for a tour.


St. Paul - Como Park Zoo

  There are six orang utans from 10-20 yrs old and they have a very nice environment. It is large pit type arrangement. There are toys and climbing apparatus. We talked with a volunteer who told us all about the orangs.


Jackson Zoo

On Tuesday, March 16, we visited the Jackson Zoo. It is a small zoo with a good variety of animals. Most animals are in level 2 type environments with little stimulation. The elephants are in a nice moated area, also the rhinos and tapirs. The orang utan environment is very small, like it should be for bears. They have a large square wooden structure on which to climb but not ropes, hoses, cargo nets, etc. There is a 15-year-old male, Pumpkin, and a 25-year-old female, Dumpling. Both are Borneo species. The male is bored and is continually looking for an escape route. We chatted with the keeper, Ricky, who told us about Pumpkin's antics. If they give them any toys, Pumpkin will put it against the wall and grab onto the electrical wire and climb out. Dumpling is resigned to the fact that there is nothing to do. She eats everything and thus is overweight. In their holding areas there is more stimulation for it is protected. The two do get along well. Right now the female is on a five year implanted birth control, but when Pumpkin is ready to mate the implant will be finished.


St Louis Zoo

One should visit the St Louis zoo in the spring time for the flowering trees that are on the grounds are all in bloom…Redbud and dogwood. The zoo is very spacious with considerable open space for trees and flowers. The 1904 World's Fair was here in St Louis and the buildings on Historic Hill were built for the fair. They are now the bird house, herpetarium, monkey house, and sea lion arena. There is a small train running around the circumference of the grounds providing transportation. The zoo is free but you pay for parking ($8 for a car, $16 for an RV). The zoo is divided into six areas: River's Edge, Discovery Corner, Lakeside Crossing, The Wild, Historic Hill and Red Rocks. Red Rocks is home to the reticulated giraffes (4), Grevy's zebras, Bactrin camels (including what appears to be a two year old), and big cats. The cat area is much like the NZP Tiger hill whereby the hill is divided into sections where the cougar, Sumatrian tiger, lion, jaguars, and snow leopards live. The entrance to the Big Cat plaza is bordered by two large netted habitats for the cougar and snow leopard.

The historic houses are made into lovely habitats for the birds and monkeys. Each house has a center atrium with a botanical garden and the outside wall areas are the habitats for the animals. The hornbill exhibit was very interesting in that the female was sitting on her nest sequestered inside a large tree trunk. She seals herself inside the tree for three months until the eggs are hatched. The male attends to her and feeds her through a small slit. Once the baby is born, she leaves the tree and re-plasters the hole until the baby is large enough to come out. They had a TV camera focused inside the tree on her. She has already hatched seven babies in the past. All the habitats use vertical wires about 1-2 inches apart. This visually seems like there is no barrier.

The monkey house has lovely habitats with glass, ropes, intertwined branches, rocks, all against a back drop of murals which visually expand the habitat. Some of the primates are lion tailed macaques, mongoose lemurs, colobus monkeys, Hamadryas Baboons, Dusky leaf Monkey (or spectacled langurs), and tamarins. One of the lion tailed macaques looked like he was shielding his eyes to eliminate the glare of the overhead light so he could see us as I was lip smacking.

Puffins, penguins, grizzlies, and three polar bears are in the Wild area. King penguins are in an inside cold environment swimming around in their tanks. One penguin decided that John was too close to the glass and did a tuck dive and deliberately splashed water over the barrier!! The Wild area is also home to the gorillas, chimps and orang utans. They have 3 bachelor male lowland gorillas who must be kept separated in addition to a family of gorillas. Zoos have over produced male gorillas and they have no place to keep them so many are struggling with the problem. We talked with Meg one of the keepers who took us around the primate habitat. They have nine chimps who comprise a family of adopted offspring. Molly and Smoke were the original chimps at the zoo, then came Hugo and Jimmy who were put in with them. Hugo finally became the alpha male. Molly had two offspring one of which has alopecia. We didn't get to see Cinder for she was off exhibit today, but apparently some of the comments about the "naked" chimp is "how human she looks". They just received a two year old from Puerto Rico who they are trying to acclimatize so they are cycling members of the troop in with her.

They have three Sumatran orang utans and soon will be four. Junior is 43 years old and the female (Mari spelling??) is 25, and an 8 year old male. The female is expecting anytime. She is very attentive, just like Indah, when she saw one of the volunteers come over to the window carrying a bag. She sat herself down and watched as the volunteer pulled things out of the bag and finally turned the pages of a colorful book. We only saw the female for the other two were in the back bedrooms. They are building new outdoor habitats for the orangs, gorillas and chimps which will be opened in 2005.

Springfield - Dickerson Park Zoo

Small but focused zoo. Keepers were essentially unavailable, but we happened to see one driving by in his cart and we were able to talk with him. Jeff Glazier, senior keeper, told us about the elephants. Their baby male Asian elephant is 15 months old and a result of artificial insemination (AI). This zoo is the first one to successfully have elephants reproduce via AI. They have another female who was artificially inseminated and is due in November. They know it is a male. They have 4 females on exhibit and the one baby. They have their males offsite but within walking distance for they walk the elephants back and forth. Since they have no more space for keeping elephants, especially males, their director is not allowing them to breed any more of their females. Just when they got the AI technique down! Jeff said that Asian elephants are harder to use AI on than African for the sperm appears to be more fragile and the probe was damaging the sperm. This zoo also had a baby elephant die in 1993 from herpes at 18 months old. The National Zoo's baby elephant died in 1995 of herpes. When a second baby started to exhibit the same symptoms of being off it's food, swollen head, swollen and purple tongue they decided to try an antibiotic regimen using a derivative of acylovar. The veterinarian was hesitant for they didn't know the dosage - but what had they to loose, it would die of herpes. It worked and they have successfully treated another elephant. Hopefully their 15-month-old elephant doesn't have herpes.

Jeff also said they recently had given two elephants to Oklahoma Zoo where we visited last week.

Five Baringo giraffes also are on exhibit with two being 3-4 month old babies. One of the females was shipped from San Diego Wild Animal Park and she was truly wild and was frantic in the shipping container and injured her leg. This was in 1995. They are still treating the injury, thus you can see the large lump on her right front leg near the foot.



Omaha - Henry Doorly Zoo

We were not impressed with the Omaha zoo, we were expecting better and newer habitats.  The grounds were plain, signage for the animals was minimal, and educational information on the natural history of the animals was spotty.  The zoo has lots of space to expand and build quality outdoor exhibit areas, which someday they might do. The animal environments were not impressive.  The elephants, giraffes, and rhinos had large outdoor yards.  The cats were kept in mostly cement cages or small outdoor cement cages with little stimulation.  There were 2 baby Siberian tigers born March 13, 2000 who were in a lovely grassy environment with running water and rocks to climb upon.  They have 3 orang utans, 20 yr old female, Knobi, who is a mixed breed; 7 yr old Chip who is already getting his cheek flanges, and 15-year-old TK who are both Sumatran.  Knobi looks very aged; her skin is very wrinkled like an old lady. The first keeper we saw wasn't too interested in the orang utans, but the second keeper was willing to chat about them.  The orang utan exhibit has two inside viewing environments with cement trees and several ropes.  The outside yard had cargo nets and ropes for climbing. The keepers are spread rather thinly.  The keepers for the orang utans also take care of the gorilla, sea lions, elephants, and rhinos.  That's a wide range. With this workload, the keepers certainly don't get to spend any quality time with the animals, just cleaning up and feeding them.  There are 4 lowland gorillas with two 4 yr olds (male & female).  Their outdoor yard is very boring with just a high wall and several large rotted tree stumps. The Jungle rain forest was the newest exhibit and was very well done.  The rain forest had tapirs, hornbills, Francois lemur, three-toed sloths, and a wide variety of birds. They are building a desert exhibit featuring 3 deserts of the world and will be open in 2002.  They had an aquarium but we couldn't take the time to go in. 

New Jersey

Cape May Park & Zoo


Very nice zoo. Lots of flowers, shrubs, trees both around the habitats and the walking paths. Many raised wooden boardwalks that allows the visitor to have a view over the animal habitats. Large savannah or wooden areas for the animals such as bison, reticulated giraffes, Grants zebras, elk, ostrich, llamas, tigers, lions, panthers, and cougars. Wide variety of animals and several species of tamarins and lemurs. Lovely bird aviary. Zoo has a lot of parking and it is free. The zoo is located on route 9 at exit 11 of the Garden State Pwky.

New Mexico

Albuquerque Biological Park


We arrived at the Albuquerque Zoo and as we entered it started to pour…thunder and all. When rain comes the orang utans and gorillas go inside. The habitats for the lowland gorillas and orang utans are moated with high stucco walls surrounding the third of a "pie" that is the primate habitat. There are platforms and ropes upon which to climb and swing. Talked with Jacyne Golden, the primate keeper, about the orang utans. The Sumatran orang utans are Tonka, a 17 or 19-year-old male is the father of Tara a 4 year old female; Sarah, a 15 year old, is the mother of Tara. Mamala is a 28-year-old female. Jacyne remembers when Bonnie and Azy were at the Albuquerque zoo when they were very young (around 4 years old). Bonnie was born at the Albuquerque zoo and Azy came to keep her company.

New York

Rochester - Seneca Park Zoo

 The exhibit is level 2 type enclosures. There are 3 orang utans - a male/female couple with one offspring.


Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

No orang utans, but the zoo does have a troop of lowland gorillas, gibbons, red pandas, guenons, slow loris, and colobus monkeys.  The gorilla troop has a nice environment, which is elongated cliff with a moat at the bottom.  The cliff contains several alcoves where the gorillas can be off exhibit.  A water channel flows through and over the edge of the cliff into the moat below.  The water is crystal clear.  There is a large silverback male, 5 females, 3 juveniles and a 1-1/2  year old baby. 

Insect World is their most noted exhibit along with a small butterfly enclosure.  An excellent display of very colorful beetles, all types of walking sticks, including a giant (about 10-12 inches) walking stick, leaf insects, leaf cutter ants, termites, and bullet ants. The educational signs and several activities for kids were well done.

A new polar bear exhibit is being built and will be open by the end of the year. They have 3 rare white tigers, really blond like blond Labrador dogs, two of which are loaned by Roy and Siegfried from Los Vegas for mating with their single female.  There are no more white tigers in the wild, which is in the Timbavati area of Africa. 

The zoo also has a komodo dragon, black rhino (a 1 1/2 year old baby which was not on exhibit), elephants, giraffes, and aardvark among its collection.

Cleveland Metropolitan Zoo

Cleveland Zoo is the 7th oldest zoo in US established in 1882. Rainforest building opened in 1992 where they constructed a simulated Borean rainforest with animals, birds, and foliage representative of the rainforest. There is a simulated thunder/lightening storm in the rainforest. This area takes about 3 hours to walk through.

They have 7 orang utans in the rainforest, but they are not all on exhibit at the same time. Kyle, male, was born on Dec 7, 1996 to Kayla (10 yr) and Tiram (10 yr). Kayla is a very good mother and is always around when Kyle is swinging on the ropes or playing with the other orangs. The other orangs were 31 yr old Chiquita, 31 yr old Jonathan, his daughter Lena, and Alexandria. The orangs live in a large well-lighted domed area of the rainforest. There are lots of ropes, trees, and ledges to climb upon. We chatted with a zoo worker who is assigned to the rainforest area to assist the visitors.

In the development of the rainforest exhibit they recorded actual sounds to play in the environment giving the visitors a quality experience. Murals are used in the background of the animal environments to complete the simulation. The leaf cutter colony is exquisite. It is a two layer exhibit, measuring about 10 feet wide by 6 feet high, with a view of the below ground fungus gardens (10x3) and the above ground foraging (10x3). Simulated trees and root structures provide the viewer with an understanding of how the ants move about the forest floor, cut leaves, and return them through a single portal to the below ground nest. The above ground view is well lighted and the below ground view is dimly lighted.

The wolf wilderness is also exquisite. The visitors walk into a rustic research building and look through one-way glass into the wolf environment. The natural setting includes a stream with a beaver home, rocks, trees, and den.

Toledo Zoo

An excellent zoo (this is our 9th zoo in 13 states so far on this trip) with 5 orang utans, 5 gorillas, colobus monkeys, DeBrazza and Diane monkeys. They just opened a new Primate Forest for the smaller primates and are working on a polar bear exhibit to open next summer. We talked with Suzy the keeper for the orangs. She had just finished feeding them their snacks and Boomer (9 yr old male) was tormenting the 23 year old female, Rusty, and she didn’t like it. The youngest is Nana at 8 years old, Boomer’s sister. These are Bornean orangs.


Oklahoma City Zoo

Sunday, August 29th, was a HOT day. We drove to Oklahoma City and it was 100 degrees in the shade! We stopped at the OK City Zoo for they have new primate and cat habitats. The primate environment, the Great EscAPE, has orang utans, gorillas and chimpanzees. There were two 3-4 month old gorillas fathered by the same male. The primate habitats were very large outdoor areas with pools, large rocks, and lots of room to scamper around. The Great EscAPE is 3.3 acres and opened in '93-94. There are several buildings for viewing the habitats and seeing their daytime enclosures. There were two separate habitats for the lowland gorillas. Female gorillas Emily ('85), Kokamo ('88), Kitani ('94), Acacia ('95) , the male Matumaini ('94) and a 3-4 month old baby. The second habitat had Zuri (male '83), Kathryn ('64), Fern ('59) and Kathryn's baby born in '99. There were only 2 orang utans on exhibit and a new female that hasn't yet been introduced. Les Tunka is a wild caught male born around 1960 and Toba came from the Nurenburg Zoo and was born 7/2/67. The cat exhibit is a large outdoor area for tigers, lions, leopards, jaguars, and ocelots. In all cases the area is large, rocky, with water, and trees. The hoofed stock has large rectangular pens that are quite deep and abut against the maintenance area. The signages for all the animals are very educational and informative. There are outstanding graphical displays to teach the visitor about the habits and behavior of the animals.

It was a Sunday afternoon and unfortunately I could find no keepers with whom to talk. There was one off duty volunteer that happened to be in the orang utan area and she shared some information.

It was at this zoo that we saw a mother put her 10 year old boy up on a rock inside the gorilla environment to take his picture with the silverback male on the hillside behind the boy. Needless to say, I told the mother that she was endangering her child…the mother was upset at me that I would interfere with her and her family. She proceeded to tell the boy that it was all right to do what they did.


Portland Metro Zoo

 We met Kathy Kenyon, who is a volunteer at the zoo, for a red carpet tour. We also talked with the orang utan keeper, Dave Thomas, about Chang the orang from the Washington National zoo. The 6 year old orang has acclimatized well and is accepted by Inji (38 year old wild born) and Batik (10 year old born at Brookville zoo). Unfortunately, Chang died in January 1999 from an infection, strongyloides (a parasite that is particularly difficult for orangs).


Elmwood Zoo

Small zoo in the suburbs of Philadelphia which is quite nice for children. One keeper did talks at several of the habitats. He said they were undergoing a redevelopment and were going to have themed areas and of course level 3 habitats. The bobcat had 4 week old kittens which were a complete surprise to the zoo keepers. They have a pair of jaguars, one black and one normal color which they will mate within several years. Bison, pregnant elk, 2 gray wolves, natural butterfly garden, small reptile house, variety of birds and small animals, petting area, and alligators.

Philadelphia Zoo

The FONZ volunteer trip to the Philly zoo was on October 2, 1999. December 1997 the primate house burned and they lost all the primates. A new primate center called the Primate Reserve is now open and features gorillas, orang utans, lemurs, and lion tailed macaques. The theme of the Primate Reserve is a lumber mill, which allows the environments, contain many wooden structures associated with a lumber mill. There are two seven-year-old orang utans, Mambo from the Oklahoma zoo and Tua from the xx zoo. The outdoor enviroment has a dry moat and many logs upon which to climb. There are construction items, as for a lumber mill, that is tied to a scaffolding so that the orang utans can’t use them to escape from the exhibit. There are many fire hoses and several platforms. The gorillas have a very large environment and an electrical fence to place some of the greenery offlimts separates part of it. However, several of the younger gorillas have figured out to circumnavigate this fence and are seen munching away on the plants that are supposedly off limits! The older silverback gorillas respect the electrical fence and don’t cross it.


Memphis Zoo

Memphis's sister city is Memphis Egypt and the entrance of the zoo is modeled after and Egyptian antiquities.  These buildings have Egyptian hieroglyphics and paintings, which makes for a grand entrance. Memphis Zoo has reconstructed many of the animal habitats and is working on a new China exhibit and a Northwest Passage environment.  Once the hoofed stock and other older environments are renovated, this will be an outstanding zoo. The zoo has its permit for importing pandas and are working to build the environment.  Talked with several keepers, who like us, are against the "renting" of pandas to the tune of $1.5 million each per year.  In addition, they said that if the zoo increases its entrance fee China gets a percentage of the increase.  San Diego zoo has indicated that attendance doesn't increase because of pandas.

The Animals of the Night is an excellent exhibit of all types of animals that are active after dark including bats, slow loris, pygmy slow loris, amandau, aardvark, and tree kangaroo.  The individual habitats make great use of mirrors to make it look larger and to be able to see behind vegetation.  In addition, most habitats have multiple animals, not just a single specie. This area was the old primate cage. 

Primate Canyon is a relatively new environment for mona (guenon) monkeys, lowland gorillas, colobus, siamang, and orang utans.  The signage at the zoo was very educational including one about primate hands.  There are 3 orang utans, one male Tombak (19 years), and 2 females, Puti (18) and Chicki (23). Tombak and Puti are on loan from Yerkes. Chicki was born in Philadelphia, 5/24/88, and came to the Memphis zoo when she was 1 ˝  years old.   Puti was pregnant but unfortunately gave birth to a stillborn last month.  Chicki is due in November.  Puti's father was Junior who was at the Tulsa zoo and subsequently moved to the St. Louis zoo in 1992.  The Memphis zoo orang utan environment is excellent with platforms, large log formations to climb upon, ropes, and waterfalls.  One of the orang utans liked to lie next to the waterfall.  We talked with Matt, the assistant curator.  He said that the siamang they have is the oldest in captivity at 36 years old.   The zoo will be getting 4 bonobos soon.

The signage was very educational and I particularly liked one on primate hands.


September 10, 1999 we finally found the zoo. The old zoo located on northwest of the city has been combined with the zoo at Grassmere located in the southeast section of the city. Consequently, the zoo is not very populated with animals at this time. The Unseen New World is the aquarium and is very well presented. Animals that are already on exhibit include cougars, otters, bald eagle, cheetahs, zebras, flamingos and elephants. There are no primates at this time. The nursery located in the main entrance building had baby snow leopards on display.


Abilene Zoological Gardens

The zoo is a small but focused zoo with a variety of animals. The habitats are mostly dry ground with water containers rather than pools. Water conservation is a key factor in the zoo design. The two young, 2 years old, white tigers (brother and sister) are on loan and they expect will be leaving after April 2003. The male was very sick for several months because he was anesthesized with the wrong drug and subsequent antidotes reacted badly. He ended up with diabetes and also has a bad eye that needs surgery. The two female giraffes are very attentive to visitors. The young one is a mixed breed between the reticulated mother and another type male (who is not at the zoo). There are two African female elephants who are 40 and 24. The older one is very dominate and has caused the zoo to change from contact to non-contact handling. The two spotted hyenas are very attentive to visitors and follow you around. There is a herd of bison on a rather dry and barren ground. The two jaguers have a small but lovely habitat. One golden and the other black. The signage facts say that jaguers are the only one of the cats that don't growl. There is a small herd of Grant's zebras. There are five spider monkeys in a lovely habitat. The colobus monkeys will be moving to a new habitat. We talked with the keeper for the tigers/elephants/hyenas.

Dallas Zoo


A very large bronze statue of a giraffe greets the visitor to the Dallas Zoo.This zoo has an older section, North Zoo, and a newer section featuring African animals.  The gorilla and chimpanzee habitats have lots of foliage, which is great for the animals but reduces the opportunity for visitors to see the animals. There are 2 gorilla environments for 8 gorillas.  A 33 yr old male, 47 yr old female and a two year ols male whose mother died and has been adopted by the 47 year old female is in one habitat while a 35 year old male, a 30 and 38 year old females and two ten year old males occupy the second habitat. A volunteer was available at the gorilla habitat to talk about the gorillas.  Cameras are used to help the visitor observe the gorillas, however they were shorted out by a lightening strike recently and instead videotapes are played.


There are 8 chimpanzees: BonBon, Victoria, Chloe, Koko, Mookie, Toby, KC, and Missy.  No keeper or volunteer was available to learn more about the chimps. The new section is very shady for both visitors and animals. The older section had a new habitat for Sumatran tigers, which, once again has lots of foliage allowing the tiger to hide and making it difficult for visitors to observe. A walkway with two buildings displaying educational material gives the visitor a mid-level view of the forested environment. The older section had additional small primate habitats, which were rather new.  Colobus, mona monkeys, spectacled langurs, gibbons, grey tiki, pale faced saki, and spider monkeys were in heavily vegetated habitats.


El Paso Zoo

This a small zoo which has recently refurbished the animal habitats to contain bushes, trees, artificial rocks & boulders, and either pools or water falls. They have three Sumatran orang utans, 2 females who are 9 and 11 years old, and a 9-year-old male, Henry.  The orang utans outdoor habitat has a stream running through it, several large platforms, and several trees with multiple ropes upon which to climb and brachiate.  Chatted with Patty, a keeper, about the orang utans.  The zoo also has several siamangs, spider monkeys, and lion tailed macaques.  Two Asian elephants were having fun spraying mud on their backs. The jaguar and Amur leopards had beautiful habitats with lots of shade, logs, and water.  The jaguar recently had a baby, however, we didn't see it. This zoo also has a Komodo Dragon, a recent addition.

Fort Worth Zoo

As the visitor enters the zoo the first habitat is the World of Primates, which features 6 of the great apes.  Orang utans, gorillas, mandrills, bonobos, and gibbons are housed in large outdoor and indoor environments. The exhibit was built in 1991 with a center core consisting of a large concrete rainforest tree trunk, waterfalls, and foliage for one family of gorillas.  Surrounding the walkway around this gorilla habitat are the bonobo, orang utan, chimp and mandrill indoor habitats. There are 3 male bonobos in a bachelor colony, which is not yet a proven grouping.  Fort Worth zoo is watching this colony to determine the interactions and quality of life for the bonobos. The outdoor orang utan habitat consists of a hammock, ladder made of fire hoses, waterfalls, swing, and platforms.  Tuan, the 24 year old male, Keri, Chantek, PT (hybrid) and a 2 year old male.  The females are 21, 9 and mid teens in age. All except PT are Bornean orang utans.  They have two hanging wooden artificial tree limbs, which look like large bird feeders.  These contain food and the orang utans must use tools to acquire the food. The waterfalls enters the habitat and flows through which provides the orang utans with their drinking water. There are 5 gorillas in two families and 4 chimpanzees in addition to a baby chimp. 

The zoo has a lot of shade for both the animals and the visitors. Penguins, meerkats, Bengal tiger, hippo, elephants, giraffes, koalas, cheetah, and an herbetarium rounds out the collection. No volunteers were here on Tuesday and keepers were not readily available.  We did, however, get to talk with Michelle, a keeper at the World of Primates. Signage included natural history, educational information but nothing about names and ages of the animals.

San Antonio Zoo

This is an older zoo with many concrete habitats, some shade trees for the animals, and pools of water.  Overall, the habitats need to be improved to provide more natural settings and stimulation. The 2 rhinos were standing in the only 2 spots of shade in the barren habitats. The zoo claims to be one of 3 that exhibits the Wolf's Guenon monkey.  Other primates include capuchins and brown gibbons. The Rift Valley exhibit is a shaded stroll through treed habitat viewing birds.  The Wetlands exhibit focuses on Amazonian species - birds and fishes. Other animals include 1 African and 2 Asian elephants, 2 white rhinos, 1 reticulated giraffe, a number of sun bears, aarkwolfs, snow leopard, jaguar, and hoofed stock.  The zoo seemed disorganized so that the visitor had a difficult time figuring out where he was and what to see next. The signage was small and sparsely scattered.



Salt Lake City - Hogle Zoo

A lovely zoo with enriched habitats for the animals, among the many animals they have include bactrin camels, two African elephants, 1 Asian elephant, 2 white rhinos, polar bears with a 7 month old cub, lots of cats, Baringo and Reticulated Giraffes, wolves, hippos, butterflies, blacked footed penguins, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, gibbons, gorillas and orang utans. The baby polar bear was born Dec 12, 2000 and she is named Anana. Mom and daughter are in one enclosure while dad is in another one. The habitats are very nice with water flowing through or pools, greenry where possible, and lots of shade and ability to be off exhibit for the animals. Indoor exhibits have murals painted on the walls.

They have 2 gorillas. The male Tino was from Cameroun in 1973 and had been at the Milwaukee zoo until 1997 when he was transferred here. Mooki the female was from Africa in 1965. The two are together but haven't bred yet.

There are 3 orang utans. Talukan a male born in 1986 came from the Cheyenne Zoo in Colorado Springs in 2000. He is a very well trained orang utan in behavior such as presenting arms for blood pressure, hands for shots, etc. He is also an escape artist! He is watched closely when he is in the outside habitat to make sure that he doesn't find a way to escape. Eve was born in 1990 at the Kansas City zoo and came to Hogle in 1995. Rufus was born in 1988 at the Lincoln Park zoo and came here in 1994. Rufus and Eve do get together but it is a cohabitation existence. Rufus apparently is schizophrenic and will "attack" Eve, pin her down and rake her head and be abusive to her. Rufus is on medication and that keeps him calm and their relationship is much more friendly. Eve is miserable when she isn't with Rufus, then when she is with him, is unhappy. Eve just had her second birth control implant put in last week. Apparently an update to the master breeding plan for orang utans was just released and Eve is high on the list to breed and her implant needs to be removed! Eve is a very little orang, smaller than our Iris. We were fortunate to talk with Mark the keeper for the orangs and gorillas. He said they are giving the orang utans more behavior training.

One of the oldest known howler monkeys, Blondie, who is 29 years old is housed at the Hogle Zoo. The butterfly exhibit I took a picture of a Julie that is bright orange on one side and brown on the underside. Photos of the Hogle zoo.


Seattle - Woodland Park Zoo

 The new orang utan exhibit at the Woodland Zoo opened in 1997. We had visited the Valley of the Vines prior to its opening in May 1997. As we arrived at the zoo, the orang utans were just ready to get their afternoon snack. Met Helen Shuman and Andy ….who took us behind the scenes to feed the orang utans and show us all the facilities. Among the orang utans, we met Melate who is the sister of Junior at our Washington zoo. Woodland zoo has a colony of five orangs and they just opened up, last June, a new natural habitat exhibit for them called "The Valley of the Vines". This gives the orangs outdoor trees, vines (man made ones), cargo nets to perch in, water falls and a variety of other natural "things". With the new focus on natural things, they can’t have the bed sheets, plastic hats, and other toys to play with. The keepers and the orangs have to be creative and make toys that will fit into the environment. Helen and Andy were very interesting to talk with and our supposedly 45 minute appointment lasted 90 minutes. We visited the zoo again on August 6th and saw only 3 orangs. One of the orangs has an amputated left hand where only the 3rd and 4th fingers are left.


Milwaukee County Zoo

The new Primates of the World exhibits gorillas, orang utans, bonobos, colobus monkeys, spider monkeys, and mandrills. All of the exhibits have both indoor and outdoor habitats with excellent signage about the anatomy of the animal. As you walk into the Primate World the rain forest fauna surround you. We only saw two adult gorillas. There are two orang utans, a female 33 year old Saba and her son Tommy who is 21. The father died several weeks ago. We were able to talk to several volunteers at each of the exhibits. The colony of bonobos is the largest in the USA with 19. One of them, Linda, was born in the Congo in 1956 and is the oldest one in captivity. There were several juveniles about 2 years old and a baby that was born last August. Got some excellent pictures of mom and baby. The spider monkey habitat had a great mural of Tikal as the background. The elephants, giraffes, hippos, rhinos, are grouped in the center of the zoo. Three reticulated giraffes are in their late teens and early twenties and one of them is a blond which is almost white with some spots of brown. They have two African elephants with Lucy being 41 years old. Penquins, sea lions, reptiles, bears, small mammals round out the collections. Photos

Foreign Zoos

Belize City - Belize Zoo

In 1983 a natural history documentary was being filmed here in Belize City using 17 animals native to the area. When the filming was finished, Sharon Matola was instructed to destroy the animals before she returned home. Well, that wasn't right…so Sharon raised money and started the zoo with these 17 animals. Since 1983 the zoo has rown and features over 100 animals all indigenous to Belize. The habitats are very rich in local vegetation providing the animals with a familiar home. In some cases it is difficult to find the animals. The signage is handwritten signs that have been written to the level of the Belizean children and how they talk. Among the collection of 35 species in the zoo are cougars (3), howler monkeys, spider monkeys, tapirs, peccaries, puma, ocelot, toucans, paca, otter, kinkajou, jaguarundi, parrots, coatimundi, and jabiru stork.

Canada - Calgary Zoo

The zoo has a colony of 6 gorillas that included 2 juvenile males about 3 years old, 2 producing females, a silverback male and a one-year-old male. There are only 2 orang utans at the zoo. An 18 year old male (Chewy for short) that came from the San Francisco zoo a year or so ago and a 40 old female, Red. At first the two were chummy, but then Chewy must have frightened her and she has backed off and remains by herself. Chewy was hand reared and identifies more with humans than with other orangs. Red has produced 11 offspring and they are hoping that she will have another. Rose, the keeper, took us out to feed peanuts to both the orangs and the gorillas. The outside environments were very stimulating for both animals. The zoo had a beautiful environment for their 4 wolves and they were very active running around and coming close to the people to drink at the stream. The zoo also has a unique prehistoric portion of the park where they have recreated the badlands and have 20 prehistoric animals in various settings.


Czech Republic - Prague Zoo

From our hotel we took two trams (#19 & 12) and then a bus (#112) and arrived at the Prague Zoo north of Prague. They have a very broad collection of animals and the habitats are excellent. The four orangutans are housed in the Indonesian Jungle Exhibit which opened in Nov 2004. As you walk into the building, there is a nice Komodo dragon habitat. Then there is an exhibit of nocturnal animals such as bats, rat kangaroos, & loris. Another area is a rain forest with archer fish & birds. Finally, on the hill is the beautiful habitat for the four Sumatran orang utans . The mom, Upita is 27, the dad, Kama is 33 and the two young males are Bagie 2˝ and Filip who is 3˝ . The habitat has artificial trees, ropes and lots of wood straw in sculptured areas. There is a moat around the habitat and the viewing is from slightly above peering down into the moat area. The 3˝ year old was very active, swinging all over the place then taking a paper box, tearing it apart and throwing it into the moat and playing “boat” with the cardboard. As the cardboard got water soaked, he tore parts off and sucked on them. Finally, he was bored and moved on to other activities. The younger one liked to climb all over mom and sit on her head. There were young volunteers around the zoo. Signage was excellent.

Polar bear s lived in a lovely habitat with flowing water and a nice pool and places to climb. A five month old baby gorilla was with his mom Kijivu (Mar 18,1993) from the Sidney zoo and dad Richard (Nov 9, 1991) from the Frankfurt zoo. There is another female Shinda (July 16, 1991) again from the Sidney zoo. The habitats are great with lots of ropes, trees, and grass.

The Barbary Apes have a shared compound with the Barbary Sheep. They have a huge mountain face to climb upon. Asian elephants, seals, lots of birds, tigers, cheetah, lions, panthers, jaguars, and lots of other animals make for a full day at the Prague Zoo. We spent about two hours and then saw evidence of a terrible flood in Sept 2002 when the whole lower part of the zoo was devastated, including the death of several animals (tigers-lions-hippo), by the flooding of the Vltava River . There are picture displays of the buildings before and after the flood. For the last three years, the zoo has been rebuilding the lower part of the facility. This zoo is definitely worth a visit.


England - London Zoo

The London Zoo doesn't reciprocate with the National Zoo, so we needed to pay the 10 GBM ($15). This is an old zoo, of course, but has adapted their old habitats into level 2 with a lot of enrichment for the animals. The lions and leopards are in open areas with windowed or unobstructed views. The Lowland Gorillas, chimps, red-faced black spider monkeys, and white-faced gibbons are in wire cages with wood chips and lots of ropes and platforms for moving around. The zoo has a rotating feeding schedule so the visitor can see and hear about the animals.

Mexico - Chapultepec Zoo, Mexico City

The Mexico City Zoo is located in Capultepec Park across the street from the National Museum of Anthropology. The zoo has been updated and is very nice. They have designed the zoo around 5 climates - Dessert, Savannah, Bosques Templados, Bosque Tropicals and Tundra. The habitats are excellent as level 3 (green space) and their collection is quite large. In the Dessert habitat they have the wolves, mountain sheep, pecaries, hyena, lynx, baboons, bactrin and dromadary camels and lemurs. In the Savannah the animals are the fenec, porcupine, zebra, prarie dogs, lions, giraffes, wildebeast, antelope, rhino, hippo. yak, bison, llama, alpaca, & impalas. In the Temperate climates there are bears, pumas, macaques, red pandas, & pandas. In the Tropical climates the animals are the jaquars, ocelot, binturongs, coatimundi, caupuchins, Bengal tigers, Sumatran tigers, Patras monkeys, panther, chimps, sloths, orangutans, gorillas, & siamangs. The Tundras of course is represented by the penguins, sea lions and polar bears.


Romania - Bucharest Zoo

In Bucharest, we stayed at the Sofitel Hotel, a lovely 5 star hotel located north of the main part of the city and we found our way to the Bucharest zoo on the local bus. We were told to take the #449 bus but when we went to find the bus stop another person told us we could get to the zoo via the #335 or the #301 bus. The #335 bus came along and we hopped on - we were one of the sweating sardines jammed on this bus! There is no air conditioning except for a few windows that could open. Since we didn't know where the zoo was, we asked until we found someone who spoke English. He told us the #335 bus ended at the airport and that we needed to get the 301 bus. Oh well, we got off the #335 and got the #301 which took us directly to the zoo. Again we asked and someone directed us when to get off for there was no sign that the zoo was at this stop. We walked back a short distance on the road to the entrance of the zoo. We started our walk around seeing the panthers and tigers in their level 2 habitat. The animals did have grass, logs, a pool, and places to climb. We then found the primate house. We didn't see any monkeys outside in their level one cages, so we walked inside. They had pictures of some of the primates and a baby orang utan was among them. I started to ask if they truly had an orangutan. No one could understand me and I finally saw a young man that went thru the door saying veterinarian. When he came back out, I asked and he spoke some English and said that they once had an orangutan, but it died. We talked more and we told him where we were from. He offered to show us his "clinic" and took us upstairs to meet his lab technician and lab assistant. The have very little equipment - EEG, EKG, and a blood analysis machines. We sat and talked for a while learning about him and the zoo. He then offered to take us around the zoo for about 30 minutes. For the most part the zoo has level 1 habitats with level 2 for the hoof stock and leopards. The mandrill, macaques, chimp were all in small level 1 cages. All the animals looked well fed and were not pacing. The vet was a PhD in reptilogy and was proud of the reptile habitats which were large and had artificial plants and water available. The reptile house also had five aquarium tanks with a nice display of fish. I told him about the orang utan language program and he was very interested in programs at the National Zoo. He was also interested to know that we use behavior training routinely. They have one male Asian elephant in a grassy yard. The elephant is the oldest in Europe at 50+. Other animals included Siberian and Indian tigers, condor (36 yr old and oldest in their zoo), wolf, ostrich, emus, deer, and birds.


Date Revised: 6/14/2010