A trip to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

An Australian Kookaburra greets visitors at The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

For my wife’s birthday this past week we made a trip to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. The zoo, located in Druid Park in downtown Baltimore,  is one of the country’s oldest serving zoos. It is sited on 125 acres of land within the park and has  close to 2,000 animals  in it’s collection. We have been residents of Maryland for a long time but because we live in the Washington DC suburbs have always visited the National Zoo in DC. I regret that we have waited so long to see The Maryland Zoo as it is a wonderful zoo and considered one of the best zoos in the country. Fans of the National zoo can be a bit spoiled as the National zoo had a greater wealth of resources and funding to draw on. There are probably very few zoos in the world that can compare to the National Zoo. However The Maryland Zoo offers the benefit of both a lovely walkable grounds and some unique species  that you will not find at the larger DC Zoo. We found it well worth our time to spend an afternoon there.

African Black Footed Penguin

An African Black Footed Penguin performs for visitors in the underground viewing room.

 

One thing that The Maryland Zoo has over its DC compatriot is its amazing Penguin Coast exhibit. The exhibit is fairly new and considered to be the prize of the zoo. There the zoo featured a highly successful breeding program for the endangered African Black Footed Penguin. We were lucky enough to go through their special back stage “Penguin Encounter” program where small groups are allowed back stage to meet  their special “embassy” penguins who act as ambassadors for the overall penguin community. These special penguins not only get to meet small groups at the zoo but go outside of the zoo to visit institutions such as schools.  We had a delightful time visiting with four penguins and their keeper Tammy who patiently answered all our questions about these marvelous birds. One other attraction that we especially liked was the  Panamanian Golden Frogs . Feared to be extinct in the wild The Maryland Zoo has a successful breeding program for these beautiful amphibians and we were told that there are plans to eventually begin introducing some of these frogs back into the wild.

Panamanian Golden Frog

The Panamanian Golden Frog is believed to be extinct in the wild.

Zoo hours in the winter are limited but I would say that a nice winter day is certainly the time to visit. We found ourselves outnumbered by the zoo’s local volunteers who were more than pleased to spend time with us talking about the animals in the zoo. I would have to say that The Maryland Zoos volunteers are about the best aspect of the whole zoo experience. We found them to be so much more accessible than their counterparts at the National Zoo It is  pretty obvious that they love their zoo and enjoyed sharing their vast knowledge with us

Screech Owl

One of The Maryland Zoo’s wonderful volunteers introduces us to a tiny Screech Owl

The Maryland Zoo as with most zoos does charge admission. However, the admission fee is not high and in these days of budget shortfalls we could not find much wrong with helping out a little bit. Parking at the zoo is free, and I would have to say that the grounds are even more lovely than Washington’s zoo. In the winter time a lot of the animals are indoors and not on display but there were still plenty to see and the beautiful zoo setting combined with the first rate staff made our first visit a delight.

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