On a recent business trip, I decided to take a side trip to check out the Columbus Zoo in Columbus, Ohio. I had heard wonderful reviews about it, but hadn’t been out that way to visit.
Wow, was it great!
There are lots of animals to see, and you can get surprisingly close to many of them. The enclosures are large and natural-looking, and every animal I saw seemed healthy and well cared for. The Columbus Zoo is well-known for its celebrity director emeritus, Jack Hanna, whose photograph was everywhere throughout the zoo!
It is divided into five main sections: North America, Asia Quest, The Shores, Voyage to Australia and the Islands, and African Forest.
In the Australian section, you could actually walk into an enclosure where the kangaroos were hopping around! You had to stay on the path, but they were right there on the grass.
In the Songbird Aviary, we got to see all kinds of gorgeous birds, flying all around us. Some were regular backyard birds, but it was still cool to get up close to them.
My favorite animal at the zoo is the big cats. There were plenty to see! The tiger was stretched out in the sun, just a big version of my own cats lying in the “suntangle” coming in through our living room window! We also saw lions, a leopard, and some smaller nocturnal cats that were kept inside (so they can reverse day and night and visitors can see them doing something other than sleeping).
I also loved the prairie dogs! They were adorable eating their corn on the cob! And who doesn’t love watching otters swim and play?
I was a bit disappointed with the Shores, because there wasn’t that much to see. The Columbus Zoo tacks on “and Aquarium” to their name, but that is a bit misleading. They only had a few large tanks, which I didn’t think was anything close to an aquarium. I did enjoy seeing the manatees, as well as some pretty salt water fish. I braved the Reptile House, but can’t say that was a highlight of my visit…!
At $10 per person for an adult, the price was right. We took our time and spent nearly 4 hours there. The zoo has all kinds of food options, including an impressive Food Court, an Asian restaurant (located in Asian Quest, of course!), and plenty of food stands. The beverage machines were expensive, though – I paid $2.50 for a bottle of water!
New in 2008 was a waterpark called Zoombezi Bay, which was closed for the season. I’m not a huge waterpark fan, but the admission of $29.99 seemed a bit pricey to me. There is also an amusement park called Jungle Jack’s Landing that is included in your admission to the zoo, but the rides are $1-$2 extra.
The Columbus Zoo is well worth the trip. Jack Hanna still comes back to do special shows now and again, and although I bet the crowds are terrible, I’d like to go back sometime to see him!