Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Reid Park Zoo

Reid Park in Tucson, Arizona is very much like Central Park in New York City. Both are mostly places to jog, picnic, and actively recreate, and both have a small zoo. I visited the Reid Park Zoo this past Valentine’s Day, and managed to at least catch a glimpse of many of its captive animals.

The zoo, celebrating its 40th birthday this year, occupies only a little more than seventeen acres, but an amazing diversity of fauna is packed into that space. This has created some concern when it comes to the elephants in particular, as they really don’t have enough room to roam. To that end, the zoo plans to tack on an additional seven acres for an expansion entitled “Expedition Tanzania.” Three acres are designated for the elephants alone, and will include mud wallows, and pools and streams. The cost of the expansion is estimated at about $8.5 million. Fundraising is progressing well, and construction could start as early as this year.

The elephants are certainly a major attraction, as are the two white rhinos, but the official mascot of the zoo is the giant anteater. This is one of my favorite animals, too. They look about as improbable as a platypus, but their fur is beautifully marked.

Their bushy tail is about as long as the rest of them, and they walk on their knuckles, more or less, so as not to break their very long front claws. They use their claws to pry open termite mounds in their native plains of Brazil. Those mounds can be as hard as concrete, but slightly more brittle.

The most recent addition to the zoo is a baby Grevy’s zebra, born on January 30, 2010.

He did put in an appearance while I was there, frolicking in the large yard that he shares with mom and pop, two African crowned cranes, and a small flock of Guinea fowl. Yes, no question, he sure is cute.

Another show I was privileged to see was a full-blown courtship display by a peacock, not a stone’s throw away from me. He was so close that I couldn’t back away far enough to get a good shot of his entire glory. It was a fitting end to a Valentine’s Day at the Reid Park Zoo.

1 comment:

  1. I love Giant Anteaters. I worked at the Kings Island Wild Animal Habitat a few summers during college. We had one that would follow me around the outer part of the pen and if I got near enough he would shoot his tongue down in my shoe. It was so funny!