Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wild Encounters Animal Health Center Tour Review

Wild Encounters Health Care Center tour at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Have you ever wondered what it's like behind the scenes at a major zoo? How do they take care of all of the animals? The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium (in Columbus, Ohio) recently started offering two behind the scenes tours. One tour takes you backstage of the coral reef and the other walks you through the Dr. C. Joseph Cross Animal Health Center where the nine thousand plus animals are taken care of, which is the one that I did a few weeks ago. Yes, the surviving animals that escaped from the farm in Zanesville are being taken care of there but no, you will not see them.

If you're familiar with the Columbus Zoo, one of the first questions you may ask is "where is the animal health care center located?" The animal hospital and other backstage areas are located north of the old Powell Road, behind Asia Quest and North America. If you're in the zoo look for the water tower. Here is an aerial picture taken from Google maps. 

Close up of the animal hospital.

We met our tour guide by the stone entrance to Asia Quest. From there, we proceeded past the lion enclosure and through a gate to a backstage access way. We walked up old Powell Road, past an office and storage buildings, and arrived at the entrance to the animal care center. 

So what did I think of the actual tour? The tour costs $15 per person for zoo members ($20 for non-members, I think) and if I wasn't a member I probably wouldn't have paid for it. It is a working hospital so one of the major concerns is keeping tourists out of the way of any emergencies. Regardless, I was disappointed that we didn’t see any animals while inside the hospital.  Our tour guide was very good and  knowledgeable but I guess I was hoping for a little more excitement.

Also, be aware that the tour guide is the only one allowed to take pictures inside the facility. As an extra little perk every guest on the tour received a key chain with an inspirational message about conservation which was neat. If you're interested in becoming a vet or want to work at a zoo then I highly recommend this tour. If you are hoping to see animals up close and intimate then this tour is not for you. 

Tours are offered daily from November 21-March 30 and must be purchased two weeks in advance. Click here for more information.

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