Zoos: Take a walk on the wild side

New attractions and exhibits.

​Cuddly baby lions wrestle with their siblings, intelligent orangutans interact with researchers and zebras roam freely across the savanna.

A globetrotting excursion is little more than a short drive away at the Cincinnati, Columbus and Indianapolis zoos as well as The Wilds. And with interactive exhibits and unique animal encounters, it’s more than a trip — it’s an adventure.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Spanning 43-acres, the Heart of Africa is the Columbus Zoo’s newest and largest region to date. Rhythmic drums pulse throughout the marketplace as visitors encounter the vibrant Mudiwa Village.

Guests continue their journey through the Ajabu National Park where the animals gather around the watering hole for a midday drink. Experience the sweeping African savanna where zebra graze and gazelle leap.

Spring fun: The Eggs, Paws and Claws event is two days of family fun complete with the Easter Bunny and his friends — including Bugs Bunny and the Trix Rabbit. Even the zoo inhabitants get in on the fun with egg hunts of their own April 4-5.

The Wilds

The Wilds is one of the largest and most innovative wildlife conservation centers in the world. Visitors can see eye-to-eye with a bison or giraffe in a rugged open-air safari transport or relax in a comfortable air-conditioned safari transport.

The Wilds has evolved into a completely immersive experience with zip line tours, horseback riding, fishing, and one-of-kind hands-on educational opportunities.

Spring fun: Meet one of the Wilds newest residents, a fifth-generation male southern white rhino born in November. The Wilds is the only organization outside of Africa that has five generations of white rhinos.

Indianapolis Zoo

Designed to stimulate the apes’ physical, social and intellectual abilities, the new Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center is home to one of the largest groups of orangutans in any American zoo.

Spring fun: Opening just in time for spring break, Butterfly Kaleidoscope features hundreds of vibrant butterflies free flying in a tropical, indoor conservatory.

And two Queensland koalas will make their home away from home in the zoo’s forest area, where guests can get up-close views of the adorable fuzzy forest dwellers from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

The botanical garden takes center stage in April with an explosion of color. As one of only two accredited botanical gardens in Ohio, the Cincinnati Zoo offers one of the largest tulip displays in the Midwest.

Spring fun: Zoo Babies come out and play as the second oldest zoo in the United States celebrates its newest arrivals in May.

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Contact this contributing writer at djuniewicz@gmail.com.

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