Sunday, April 6, 2014

Heart of Africa Opening Date

While there's been no official word from the Columbus Zoo, DublinLife magazine announced the Heart of Africa opening date as Thursday, May 1st, 2014. I myself was anticipating a Memorial Day weekend opening and after visiting today it looks like there is still a lot of work to do. We've heard the African lions will be moving into their new digs within two weeks. It's been rumored the old lion exhibit will be converted into a snow leopard exhibit. The Columbus Zoo currently keeps two snow leopards that are part of the Jack Hannah Promotion/Education Department. Look for them to acquire at least two more.

Fencing along the pedestrian path in North America between the Mexican Wolves and Bison/Pronghorn exhibits is being replaced. A couple of trees have been removed which has me wondering if they are going to expand the pathway by a few feet in anticipation of more foot traffic heading back towards Heart of Africa.

Last Columbus Zoo update I showed the location of the new tram station. Today, I found where the other station is going to be, just inside the old zoo entrance on the right. Pictured below is an overhead drawing of the location of the stations and the service road the trams will take. Honestly, if the wait is more than 5 minutes you might as well walk.

heart of africa opening date

A surprising new project underway is a large renovation on both front yards of the zoo's Pachyderm Building which are going to be used for black rhinos.
Black rhino area

And here's a short Vine video I took of the polar bears:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Columbus Zoo Heart of Africa Update 2/22/14

The temperature was over fifty degrees today so I visited the zoo for the first time since October. The biggest surprise was they moved the reindeer again (at least the third time)! The move wasn't far, just across the path. The moose have taken over the old reindeer enclosure which makes perfect sense. There is a new path (not open yet) going around the new reindeer exhibit back towards the entrance of Heart of Africa. The placement of the exhibit as well as the new reindeer buildings and facades will add more to see on the train ride.
Reindeer's new home

The framing for the entrance into Heart of Africa is up and clearly visible. Looks like there will be two paths encircling the reindeer that lead to the entrance to the new region. A few buildings are visible in the background, such as the new restaurant by the lions. Hard to see where the camels and camel rides are going to go (if they're still planned).
Entrance way to Heart of Africa

New facades along the train tracks

Crossing the railroads tracks into Polar Frontier, immediately on the right, is a station for the new tram transportation system. I’m not sure where or how many other stations there will be. My guess is one by the entrance. Any ideas?
New tram station by Polar Frontier
New path towards Heart of Africa
There are still a lot of signs up around the zoo referring to the new region as Safari Africa and not its new and official name: Heart of Africa.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Once I was Adopted

Pardon me for a little shameless self-promotion here. For fun I created a short children’s story about adopting a dog. It’s a picture book and stars our dog, Conan. Scroll down to see a few pictures. The first review I received gives it a five star rating and had this to say:

This book is an utter delight. Wonderful to read aloud to little ones, and an excellent introduction to animal rescue. The photographs are enchanting and the rhymes are fun. Who could resist that darling little dog?

It’s available on Kindle if you’re interested! Ok, back to zoos now. Looking forward to Safari Africa.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Columbus Zoo Future Plans

An article in the Columbus Dispatch revealed some of the Columbus Zoo's ideas for future plans. Over the next twenty-five years, the zoo could see the following additions:
  • Bringing sea lions to the zoo with an exhibit at the main entrance that eventually could include entertainment.
  • Creating an interactive exhibit honoring the legacy of former zoo director Jack Hanna.
  • Tripling the size of the African Safari exhibit, which is to open in May.
  • Providing transportation from one side of the zoo to the other.
  • Renovating the North America exhibit.
  • Building a new animal hospital.
  • Enlarging the zoo’s aquarium building.
The hope is zoo attendance of about 2 million visitors a year could grow to 3 million a year with the addition new exhibits. Plans also call to add a satellite zoo in downtown Columbus along the Scioto River, estimated to cost $50 million to $65 million to build.

So it looks like a South America region is off the table. Which of these future plans do you like the best? What do you think they need?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Holiday Gift Ideas for Zoo Fans 2013

It’s that time of year again! The holiday gift giving season is upon us so it’s time to head to the store to purchase something unique for your fellow zoo enthusiast or animal lover. I’ve created a list of gift ideas besides the typical season passes to your local zoo or aquarium. Many of these items I personally use myself each and every day and others are items I have on MY holiday wish list.

Zoo Toys

LEGO Duplo - My First Zoo:
With four cute zoo animals, including a baby elephant, tiger, polar bear and giraffe, there’s always something for the friendly zoo keeper to do, like feeding the animals.

Playmobil 4850 Big City Zoo:
A large scale Zoo. Entrance area with ticket counter and gift shop. Variable blockable enclosures with African animals and lots of accessories.

Zoo Movies

We Bought a Zoo: A heartwarming story about a man who moves his family into a zoo and embarks on a fresh beginning to restore the dilapidated zoo to its former glory, while uniting his family.

Zoo Games

World of Zoo:
Available for Ninendo Wii, DS, and PC, World of Zoo is the only life sim game that pushes you past the fences and into a word of your own zoo. Create and customize your zoo experience and develop hands on relationships to earn the trust and love of your animals.

Zoo Tycoon 2: Ultimate Collection:
In the same vein as the ultra successful RollerCoaster Tycoon series, the goal in Zoo Tycoon is to create a thriving zoo by building exhibits to accommodate animals and keeping the guests happy.

Zoo Books

Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives:
Zoo Story takes readers deep into the inner workings of a place some describe as a sanctuary and others condemn as a prison.

How to Draw Zoo Animals Step by Step:
Learn how to draw over 200 animals in 6 easy steps.

Drawing Animals in Pencil - This huge 400+ page ebook will teach you how to draw over 900 different animals. The lessons are easy to follow and will have you drawing better before you know it. Read a more detailed review here.

Other Tech, Gadgets, and Toys

Google ChromeCast HDMI Streaming Media Player. Stream my Zoo YouTube videos right to your TV using your smartphone, tablet, or laptop!

R/C Helicopter. This Brand New 3 Channel mini rc helicopter is the world's newest, most durable and stable helicopter. The item comes with the latest gyro system for precision control. The metal frame has proven to withstand dozens of crashes.

HDMI Pocket Projector. Projects up to 1080p HD images up to 60" diagonal. Rechargeable and portable. Connects via HDMI to most smartphones, tablets, computers, video players, cameras and more.

Breaking Bad: Complete Series. All seasons plus tons of amazing extras for the greatest show on television. The episode titled "Ozymandias" is my favorite episode of any TV show I've ever seen.

Amazon Prime

I highly recommend joining Amazon Prime. If you order something off of Amazon on average once per month then it pays for itself, or if you're ordering a bunch of gifts this holiday season it probably will too. The FREE two day shipping is awesome and everything I've ordered really has come in two days or less. You can also stream movies, TV shows, and get a Kindle book every month. Great alternative for Netflix or Hulu and well worth the investment in my opinion. Cheers!

What gifts are you getting your fellow animal lovers for the holidays? Please let me know by commenting below!



Thursday, September 5, 2013

Ideal Buildout: Columbus Zoo Safari Africa Jeep Adventure

While I reserve final judgement until the attraction is actually open, from what I’ve seen on paper the plan for Safari Africa is drastically different (read: smaller) than the initial rumors posted years ago. Initial plans called for a new boat and train rides.Now it will be interesting to see if it even opens with the zip line and camels rides. While we're eagerly awaiting what the expansion will actually look like, I thought it would be fun play planner/designer of the Columbus Zoo. My ideal plan for Safari Africa leans more toward the theme park/ride experience and makes the experience more like an actual safari.

Columbus Zoo is one of the best organized zoos. When the current Safari Africa area opens it will place the entrance to the new region smack dab in the middle of North America. While logistical or logical, it makes no sense in terms of organization for regions. In my ideal buildout, the Safari Africa experience begins where the African lions are now on display, tucked right by the exit of Asia Quest. In fact, in this plan the zoo will completely redo the African lion exhibit and integrate it with the new queue line entrance for the jeep adventure.

My ideal buildout has the same species of animals as the current plan, the difference is how I plan to get guests there. I’ve decided to combine the best features of Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom with the Wilds here in Ohio. Like Kilimanjaro, the Jeep Adventure is the only way to access the main enclosures, however, there is a station in the middle of the region where you can get out, take your time and explore at your own pace just like the tours at the Wilds.

Please note, I'm not sure how much land the zoo actually owns and what they could build on so my pictures are just guesses. Maybe one reason they chose not to do something like this is too similar to the Wilds. I’m sure the Safari Africa area under construction will be a great addition to the zoo but it’s always fun to daydream and play imagineer and think about what might have been. What do you think?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Columbus Zoo Zebras Have Arrived!

Zebras have arrived at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in preparation for their new home in Safari Africa. The Columbus Zoo used to have zebras and giraffees before they were removed to make way for the Asia Quest area. Both species will be making their return to the zoo when Safari Africa opens in summer 2014. For now the four baby zebras are stayin in a back of house area and cannot be seen from the public pathways.

Stay tuned to Zoo Tails for more updates on the Columbus Zoo and the progress of Safari Africa!