My 12 year old granddaughter Megan and I made a recent trip to the nearby Buffalo Zoo to learn more about the zoo's latest edition. Luna, is a fluffy-white 3-month old polar bear cub who made its debut at the zoo in November of last year, and it's creating quite a stir. Rachel Gottlieb, the Public Relations Coordinator for the zoo told us, "The Buffalo Zoo is only one of two zoos in North America to have polar bear births in 2012."
Luna goes hand-in-hand with the zoo's announcement to raise $4 million dollars for a new polar bear exhibit. Although we weren't able to see the cub in person (the cub is still too small to exhibit) we did see her via closed-circuit television. The playful cub reminded us of any infant having fun. Luna (born on a full moon) is only a temporary name for the cub. A contest is underway for a permanent name.
Megan, who hopes to become a veterinarian, was pleasantly surprised when she had a chance to go behind the scenes, where she received a kiss from a fellow 12-year old, Pocus, a California Sea Lion.
The Buffalo Zoological Gardens, a 9.5 hectare (23.5 acre) zoo, in the middle of beautiful Delaware Park, was established in 1875, and displays more than 1,000 animals and birds. It is the third oldest zoo in the United States.
When you arrive, grab a free map and you will notice the zoo's exhibit signs are colour coded to explain where these animals normally live. Blue represents the Americas: green - Australia/Asia and orange - Africa. Plaques explain a bit about each animal.
We spotted pygmy goats, reindeer, wallaroo, bighorn sheep, waterfowl, a tiger, giraffes and Addax antelopes. There are less than 500 Addax in the world. One of the highlights was an armor-plated Indian Rhino. We liked the river otters, and went inside to observe them in a large tank through see-through glass.
We were able to poke our heads through the front doors of a massive stone building that looked like a mausoleum where we saw two huge Asian elephants, Surpa and Jothi at feeding time. Both these big girls have been at the zoo for the past 30 years.
The Rainforest Falls exhibit was established in 2008 on the grounds of the zoo (included in the admission price) and not to be missed, like taking in a bit of Niagara's Butterfly Conservatory and the Bird Aviary. One of our favourites, this fully enclosed rainforest exhibit maintains a steady 27 C (80.5 F) year-round. We spotted free-flying birds like an ibis, a boat billed heron, and a blue crowned momot. The centerpiece of this fabulous attraction is a cascading eight-metre waterfall that replicates Venezuela's Angel Falls. You'll see a giant anteater, squirrel monkeys, white faced sakis and brown capuchins. There was also a family of sad-looking gorillas.
Parking is $4.00. Adult admission is $10.50, Youths, 2 years to 14 years, $7.50, and Seniors over 62 years of age $8.50.The zoo is open 7-days a week between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the grounds remaining open until 5 p.m. Closed American Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
When you leave the zoo, explore the majestic homes in the area. The Elmwood Avenue area is filled with lots of neat and quirky, colourfully painted shops and eating places. If a culture-vulture, you will be pleased to know that the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is a five-minute drive away.
Megan kissed by Pocus, a California Sea Lion
George Bailey contributes to Sun Media's 43 paid-circulation newspapers across Canada as well as numerous magazines. George has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Canada AM, the Discovery Channel, and Live with Regis and Cathy Lee. He has published five books on Niagara Falls.