Wednesday, July 5, 2023

6/29 Columbus Zoo

Unfortunately, today was a lot hotter and more humid than yesterday, though there was less Canadian smoke in the air.  I had to work this trip around several schedules, so I really had no choice in the weather, but if I come here again, it will be on a cool fall day, and I will rent a power chair to help me get around more easily.  I had a major birthday recently, and I find in the last couple of years that I simply have to rest more often.  Even with a lot of resting, we were all sweaty and sticky by the end of the day.  

In addition, because I drive a large motorhome, I had to park way back at the end of the spaces where buses and other RVs were parked.  This meant a very long walk to the park, and back when we were done.  No shuttles that went anywhere near here, unfortunately.

And finally, the hot weather meant that most of the animals were hiding from the sun by disappearing under rocks and shrubbery.  The result was that I did not take very many photos. I will go in cooler weather next time.  

One of the things I did not realize until I had done some research was that the Columbus Zoo also  includes a water park and an amusement park of sorts.  I guess they make more money this way, but I think the space could have better been used for the animals. 

Typically, my granddaughters were about 40 feet in front of me because I walk more slowly. 

First stop was the aquarium. It was OK, but I have seen bigger and better in places like Monterey, CA.  One of these days when I am driving through Atlanta, I will need to check out their aquarium. 

Then we headed over to Africa because we were hungry and were trying to find the inside seating, air conditioned, supposedly full-service restaurant.  Passed some warthogs that reminded me of the Lion King musical.

And a couple of cheetahs. 

We found the restaurant, and seating was inside, but I would no way call it a full-service restaurant.  Basically, they had five items on the menu, you ordered through a line, and got your meal on a tray.  One nice thing, however, was the view out of the big windows.  There were giraffes, some elephants, and some other African savanna animals.  The only problem was that they were a long way away. 

A wish I had stayed longer to watch the bats. 

Most of the elephants were inside, and frankly, I was very disappointed in the size of their area inside.  Too small, and dull.

This elephant had her head resting against the post, and I think she was sleeping.  Not sure, however.  Felt it was a bit strange. 

Lots and lots of walking from one area to another.  We got lost several times, and I think the maps and signage could have been better. 

An interesting gorilla exhibit.  I always find gorillas interesting because they are so much like us.  Lots of places for them to explore and climb on in this exhibit. 

Hard to take a good photo, but here is one of the gorillas.  Rest were napping in hammocks.

It was a long day, with expensive and not very good food, so we were happy to get back to the campground and dinner. 

6/28 The Wilds, Columbus Zoo

The Wilds is the large area where the Columbus Zoo keeps a lot of its grazing animals.  It is about 10,000 acres of land that is about 70 miles east of the Columbus Zoo, so you probably do not want to go to both places on the same day.  I took my two granddaughters, and the night before I had tickets, we drove to Salt Fork State Park and spent the night there.  We then had only a 45 minute drive to the Wilds the next morning.  

The land was originally farmed, but then strip-mined for coal in the late 20th century.  After the coal was exhausted and the mine closed, the mine owners had to regrade the surface and replace topsoil so it resembled the original farmland.  A problem, however, is that the land could no longer be farmed because there was not enough topsoil, so they planted grass and some shallow-root shrubs, and donated it to the Columbus Zoo.  

It took a few years for the plants to get established and for the zoo to add fencing and electric gates to keep the various species separate.  Additions included a welcome center, gift shop, hotel, and restaurant, as well as animal barns for the winter and other facilities for animal care.

I was disappointed in the welcome center, so did not take photos, but there was a tiny gift shop and the shuttle from the parking lot brought you up here to register and board open buses like the one below for the two-hour tours.  Note that most of my photos are very hazy and seem out of focus.  Actually, this is not a camera or weather phenomenon, but a result of smoke from forest fires in Canada.  I think it would have been easier to see the animals on a crisp and slightly colder fall day without the smoke!

Some very sleepy painted dogs. 

Some Grebes zebras. (You can tell by the very narrow stripes.)

These are some of the winter animal barns and veterinary facilities.


Some Pere David deer.

Long distance view of part of the pasture and ponds.

After The Wilds, we drove an hour and a half to Alum Creek State Park near Columbus for the next day at the Zoo.