Friday, December 28, 2012

Zoo Tails Year in Review 2012

gorilla at animal kingdom
It’s time to look back and reflect on Zoo Tails’ 2012 Year in Review. We were able to visit quite a few different zoos and aquariums across the country with some brand new to us places too!

Zoos and Aquariums I visited in 2012:

  • Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
  • ZooAmerica (next to HersheyPark)
  • Marine Mammal Center near San Francisco (not a zoo or aquarium but thought I would include it anyways)
  • Monterrey Bay Aquarium
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends at Epcot

Zoo Tails Highlights of 2012

We’re lovers of animals of all shapes and sizes, whether they are in captivity or not. Some of our favorite moments and highlights from 2012 here:
  • Seeing Jack Jack Hannah at the Columbus Zoo for the first time
  • Checking out the new Stingray Bay attraction
  • Safari Africa construction finally underway
  • Seeing sea otters in captivity and in the wild
  • Whale watching in San Francisco and spotting a blue whale
  • Fantastic interview with Stacey Tarpley about zoo design
manatee at seas with nemo and friends
Zoo Tails Most Popular Posts of 2012

Our most read posts from the past year are:
  1. Columbus Zoo Safari Africa expansion plans revealed
  2. Playmobile Zoo Model 
  3. Stingray Bay Update
  4. How to draw zoo animals step by step
  5. Woodland park zoo map 2009

Looking Ahead to 2013

In 2013, we’re looking forward to the continuing construction of Safari Africa at the Columbus Zoo along with any other new updates this coming year. In terms of trips, I’d love to be able to go back to Disney again, or even go to Disneyland in California and also hit the San Diego Zoo (it’s been six years since my first visit). Oh, I almost forgot, SeaWorld Orlando is building their largest expansion in history, Antarctica: World of the Penguin which is going to feature a new “trackless” ride experience and an up close encounter with penguins.  I’d like to check that out along with Discovery Cove. This is all just wishful thinking at the moment - we’ll see what happens! What are your zoo plans going to be?

Happy new year!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Kilimanjaro Safaris Review

animal kingdom safari animals
My wife and I just spent a long weekend at the Walt Disney World resort and being the animal fans that we are we naturally had to make the Animal Kingdom the first stop on our trip.  One of the marquee rides at Animal Kingdom is the Kilimanjaro Safaris. Set on the edge of a fictitious African town named Harambe, the Kilimanjaro Safaris transports guests to Africa in 32-passenger large open-sided motor vehicles driven by a narrator. The environment surrounding the ride path is filled with the types of vegetation and wild animal species typical of the African wilderness. Excitement on the ride path includes animals in their natural habitat and a journey over an old bridge that collapses halfway across.

I was expecting an experience similar to the bus tours at the Wilds in Zanesville, Ohio and while there are similarities in the fact you are riding a vehicle through large animal enclosures the differences were striking indeed. The biggest difference is habitat and vegetation. At The Wilds you never feel as though you’ve left the state of Ohio. While riding through the 100 acres of forests and savannahs of Kilimanjaro Safaris you’ll swear you were magically transported to the continent of Africa.

Kilimanjaro Safaris Review

The Wilds doesn’t even attempt to conceal the boundaries of its animal enclosures. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom it is very difficult to determine where one enclosure ends and another begins.

kilimanjaro safari disney

One of the biggest complaints many zoo fans have with Animal Kingdom is that Kilimanjaro Safari animals are only viewable from the bumpy ride which only pauses a few seconds near each animal.

safari ending zebra

One of the members of ZooChat created an overhead diagram displaying the Animal Kingdom safari layout. While not exact, it is pretty accurate (with the exception of the new finale featuring zebras that was recently added).

I found another Animal Kingdom safari layout map which looks pretty legit but is older and contains the original ending to the ride which included animatronics and a different storyline (and I don’t think it is missed at all).

animal kingdom safari layout

Tip: To see even more animals visit the Animal Kingdom Lodge (for free, you don't have to stay there to view the animals).