Lions and Tigers and Polar Bears, Oh My!
I have to be honest, until recently I had long since given up on the Buffalo Zoo. Even as a child I remember asking my parents why the animals had such small cages and seemed so depressed. With the Toronto Zoo just two hours north filled with impressive acreage for each roaring, flying or galloping resident; it was hard to find merit in the small patches of grass provided to larger than life animals in Buffalo.
Now that I am older, I’ve seen many zoos- San Diego, Central Park, and Zoo New England, all more grandiose, more humane, and somehow brighter than the Buffalo Zoo of my younger years. I recently took a trip back (with some prodding…and maybe a little bribery from friends) and am surprised and overjoyed to say The Buffalo Zoo has taken significant steps towards improving its tarnished image of the past. So let’s Step Out Buffalo to five great reasons that the Buffalo Zoo is once again worth exploring.
It’s Cheap– Tickets for a day at The San Diego Zoo run $46/ adult, Central Park Zoo- $18, and The Toronto Zoo admission fee is twenty-eight big ones. A day spent at the Buffalo Zoo is only $10.50 for an adult with discounts for children, students, and seniors. Why spend more when you can see the same majestic monkeys, elegant elephants, and gargantuan giraffes in your very own Buffalo backyard?
Fewer Animals- I know what your thinking, “Isn’t fewer animals a bad thing?” Maybe…but maybe not. Fewer animals in Buffalo means more space for each individual animal. Imagine living with your three siblings in one small room. You’d eat there and sleep there. Everything together, constantly together, twenty-four hours a day. This scenario would be torture for people and it’s torture for animals too. Fewer animals mean more space, and as anyone with multiple siblings can tell you- more space is a beautiful thing.
Baby Animals- One of the biggest draws at the Zoo lately has been plastered around town on posters, billboards, and newspaper ads. Luna and Kali are our friendly neighborhood polar bear cubs and are on display each day until 2pm. The Zoo also offers a baby gorilla with her parents in their own dedicated habitat, baby river otters, a baby ocelot, baby reindeer, baby big horned sheep, and a pregnant rhino!
M&T Bank Rainforest Falls – Just a mere fifty feet from rhinoceros and hyena is the highlight of a Buffalo Zoo adventure that took me from reporter to Indiana Jones in 2.5 seconds! M&T Bank Rainforest Falls is an absolute wonderland complete with a waterfall, tightrope-bridge, and a myriad of brightly colored rainforest creatures. Here you will find the colorful scarlet ibis, yellow-spotted Amazon turtle, and green anaconda. Add these to the rainbow hued parrots and red piranha and you have true beauty and majesty without all that pesky international travel.
Explore the Arctic in 2015– If you visit the Zoo this summer you will encounter construction. While it’s a bit of an inconvenience, it is a sign of wonderful things to come. Inspired by the soft and cuddly (from afar) Luna and Kali, the new Polar habitat will stretch an impressive 40,000 sq. ft.- twice as large as the previous space. It will house the polar bear, the lynx and a number of other arctic animals come completion.
All in all, the Buffalo Zoo has cleaned up nicely. Would I recommend springing for a membership for $40? Maybe not just yet. Come for a visit this summer, enjoy the scenery and the animals, come visit Luna and Kali and then head home and mark your calendar in 2015. Invest in that $40 membership fee next year- for the opening of the new polar bear Exhibit. Along with Free admission, a membership also carries guest passes, free parking, reduced admission to a number of US Zoos and fancy VIP events throughout the season and an appreciation of the Zoo’s mantra that, “we do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”
300 Parkside Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14214
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