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Urban Safari: FPZ in the Spring

We  started our Urban Safari series on January 1st at the Franklin Park Zoo (FPZ). We went back in early March and again at the end of May. It was interesting to see how how the FPZ and the animals change over the course of Spring. The FPZ is open year-round. Many of the animals have no issues with the colder New England weather. Those which do are moved to indoor facilities for the duration and emerge when the temperature becomes more moderate. Animals like the bustard can stay outside all winter as long as they've access to shelter during bad weather. On our visit on March 11th, the grounds around the Zoo were still brown but many of the animals were out and about. Christopher the lion, being almost twenty years old, was contentedly napping in the sun. The wildebeest and zebras were roaming their expansive eclosure looking something to munch on. The tiger was eyeing us with an interest which, if weren't for their double-fenced electrified enclosure, would make us quite nervous.

March’s temperature was still too cold for many of the large tropical birds to be exhibited outside. The same was true for the butterflies in the huge net-enclosed hanger. However, we did see some of the bigger animals (camels, giraffes) being transitioned to their exterior pen. Of course, visitors still had plenty to see inside (lemurs, gorillas). Ever since Little Joe’s escape in 2007, the gorillas have been housed in their indoor tropical forest facility. There are multiple glass-paneled viewing areas where visitors can get a great look at the inhabitants. Kambiri, the baby gorilla, was especially active and playful on our visit.

Our next FPZ visit was on Memorial Day. The sun was out and the temperature was in the 70’s. It was a perfect Zoo day and the line was literally “out the door.” On both visits this Spring, we had to wait in line for at least twenty minutes before getting inside. It was quite annoying. Hey, you guys at Zoo New England, can’t you figure out a way to let us members in without making us wait in line with the folks who have to purchase tickets? It would releive congestion, encourage members to visit more often, and speed things up for everybody.

Of course, once inside, annoyance quickly dissipated. The Franklin Park Zoo is such a great place to visit. The staff are friendly and quite knowledgeable about the animals under their care. They made a point of telling us to look for the Amur Leopard exhibit. There are only forty or so of these beautiful creatures left in the wild. The exhibit was tucked in between the enclosed duck pond and the giant termite mounds. It is easy to miss, but definitely worth finding.

We visited many of the exhibits we saw on New Year’s Day. The water lilies in the crane’s pond were now blooming. The ground hogs have since came out of their hibernation and were scurrying about (with their babies!). It was unclear what they were doing, but they were very busy! Now that everything is green again, the grazing animals have plenty of snack choices. Also, the grass probably make for a more comfortable layer for  napping.

A favorite for children is the budgie enclosure in the Auzzie Aviary because for $2.00, visitors can purchase a seed-covered stick and feed the colorful birds. If they are hungry, the birds will land right on your hand and eat the food off the stick. With all the kids passing through this exhibit, the birds in this free-flight enclosure have to be the best fed animals in the zoo.

The large Butterfly Landing enclosure was still closed, but should be ready by the middle of June. We will make time to stop by on opening day.

We will also be back later in the Summer to check in on Christopher the lion and all of our new animal friends at the Franklin Park Zoo. If you have not been to the FPZ in a while, we urge you to go visit. Better yet, become a member and visit often!

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