[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n a very celebratory fashion, I was given the enjoyable opportunity to step away from Athens for a day and visit the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Unfortunately, as we were embarking on our day’s expedition, the cloud’s were quickly growing grey and raindrops began to peacefully fall upon our windshield. Because we had already ventured great distances for this excursion, we kept on driving and prayed to the sun gods for the emergence of light from behind the clouds.
We were not so lucky, as the rain continued to downpour for the first couple of hours at the zoo. However, we somehow made it just in time for a fun little sheltered show that spared us from a lovely 20 minutes in the rain. This show was definitely targeted toward younger kids, but was just as amusing for us 20-year-olds due to our love for the featured furry, trickster animals.
Once leaving the show, we made our way to Aquarium, Shores, hoping for shelter. This was a great way to stay dry while also viewing various underwater friends such as manatees, penguins and some unforgettably kaleidoscopic fish. There was also an interesting “petting zoo” called Tide Pool at Discovery Reef where you were given the opportunity to touch a sea star, a crab and even an itty-bitty stingray.
After basking in our temporary refuge, we shimmied through the rain once more and trudged quickly (if trudging can be somewhat quick) along to Expedition Congo, African Forest. This area wasn’t nearly as sheltered as the aquarium, however, it still remains to be one of my favorites due to the various primates. The rain added to the misty forest vibe while continuing to deny my strong desire to take hundreds of photographs. Regardless, I was able to see dozens of monkeys, bonobos and gorillas which was definitely a highlight to such a dreary day.
Australia and the Islands seemed a little smaller than the previous regions, and featured kangaroos, gibbons and orangutans. There was also an amusing Islands of Asia Boat Ride which may have been worth the few dollars if I wasn’t already soaked from the weather above. On our way to Asia Quest, the rain was finally settling down and we were able to fully enjoy our afternoon at the zoo. Asia Quest was much more riveting than Australia and the Islands, containing tigers, bears and elephants (oh my!). If only we could have gotten closer to the elephants…
Finally, North America, land of polar bears, bald eagles and brown bears. The polar bear was definitely one of the most entertaining fellas within this region, especially due to the nifty underwater view. The brown bear was also pretty entertaining as he relentlessly chomped on his toy bone (I hope it was a toy) while cooling off in the water.
But wait, there’s more! New to the Columbus Zoo this year is the Heart of Africa section, exhibiting camels, lions, cheetahs, monkeys, giraffes and more. We saved this section for last, as it has always been my dream to visit an African safari. Sadly, we missed all of the exciting shows for the day which included a rapid cheetah run. Heart of Africa definitely is worth seeing, as you can ride camels, feed giraffes and ponder out into the vast land of various animals pretending to reside in an African savanna. If one were able to take a ride through the savanna and manage to get even closer to these animals, I would have to say Heart of Africa makes the Columbus Zoo worthy of a visit this summer all by itself.
To find out more information on the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, along with other fun activities, such as Zoombezi Bay and The Wilds, click here.