I’ve walked and driven by The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore plenty of times. Each time I reminded myself I should really check it out sometime soon, especially since it’s only a 10-minute drive from campus.
Who would’ve known I would end up visiting the zoo with my biology lab partner for a lab assignment. With over 400 students currently taking biology lab, a good number of them have already explored the zoo this past week, and many more ought to.
The assignment consisted of questions about different exhibits scattered throughout the zoo. These exhibits included African Journey, Maryland Wilderness and Penguin Encounters (which was hands-down my favorite).
The first thing I saw after entering the zoo was a fairly small gift shop located at the entrance that had a few ticket counters for visitors to purchase tickets.
I found the entrance rather plain and underwhelming, and it lowered my expectations.
I visited the zoo a little after it opened, 11 a.m. on a Saturday morning, and was surprised to see there was already a line forming to ride the tram to the main exhibits.
Onboard the tram the majority of people were families with young children and babies. However, I could spot a few Hopkins students carrying pen and paper.
The first exhibit my lab partner and I saw was Penguin Encounters, located near the entrance. I absolutely loved it. But keep in mind, I consider myself an animal-lover, and I especially adore cute and small creatures.
We spent a good 15 minutes just watching the adorable penguins swim, eat and walk around in the open viewing space. There is also an underwater viewing area where we saw groups of penguin swim around the channel.
Something I liked about the Penguin Coast is that there are no bad viewing spots. No matter where you stand in the exhibit, you will definitely get to see a penguin, a pelican or a cormorant wandering around.
Another major highlight of the zoo is the very comprehensive African Journey which will be interesting for any animal-lover. From ferocious cats, like leopards and lions, to huge birds like ostriches, this exhibit has it all.
For me, a large concern today is the preservation of biodiversity. With poachers, deforestation and countless other problems on the rise, over hundreds of species go extinct each year.
One of my favorite aspects of the zoo is that it is a major proponent of the conservation of animals.
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore actually holds the largest breeding colony of the Panamanian golden frog, a species that has nearly gone extinct in North America.
The zoo is involved in a number of consortia aimed at preventing different species, like polar bears and African penguins, from going extinct. Many of the African penguins found in the zoo were actually bred in the zoo itself!
With such a huge range of species, the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is fit for anyone who likes animals, whether cute and fuzzy or large and fierce.
To get to the zoo you can either walk or take a car. A walk will definitely take longer, approximately 50 minutes, but you will also get to check out the pleasant Druid Hill Park on the way. A car ride will only take 10 minutes, and the Uber estimate is under $8.
I would definitely recommend visiting the zoo at least once during your time at Hopkins. For less than $20 you will be able to see animals from all around the world in our very own city.