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AT A GLANCE American zoos



Published: Sun, May 27, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



From the Sunshine State to Lone Star State, here's a look at whats new at the zoo this summer, or under construction for a 2002 opening:

FLORIDA

Busch Gardens (Tampa): For information on Rhino Rally and other attractions, visit the Web site http://www.VisitTampaBay.com and click on Busch Gardens.

Florida Aquarium (Tampa): The new DolphinQuest attraction offers ecotours aboard the 49-passenger catamaran Bay Spirit. Bring binoculars to view dolphins and manatees in their natural habitat. On land, the new Sea Hunt exhibit features ocean predators from around the world, including sharks, the giant Pacific octopus, frog fish, wolf eels and lion fish. Information: (813) 273-4000.

Miami Metrozoo: Dr. Wildes World, a $2.5 million, hands-on indoor exhibit, opens this year. Visitors are invited to touch and investigate a variety of artifacts and specimens using microscopes, binoculars, interactive video, and especially for children puzzles and crayon rubbings.

The anthropology area features artifacts and crafts made by indigenous people of the rain forest. Live animals and a 500-gallon tank with fish from the Amazon River comprise the zoology area, and the world of plants -- many found only in the rain forest -- are on display in the botany area. Information: Zoological Society of Florida (305) 255-5551 or http://www.zsf.org.

Parrot Jungle and Gardens (Miami): Located in Miami since 1936, Parrot Jungle has broken ground on a new 18.6-acre facility on Watson Island, on the north side of the McArthur Causeway. When it opens in the fall of 2002, the new facility will still have many of the current park's most popular exhibits, such as Flamingo Lake plus new ones, such as the Serpentarium and an Everglades exhibit.

Parrot Jungle will remain open in its South Miami location until the grand re-opening. Information: http://www.parrotjungle.com.

GEORGIA

Jim Fowler's "Life in the Wild" (Brunswick): When it opens in 2002, this 2,000-acre "wildlife resort, " located in Georgia's Golden Isles, will be the culmination of a vision by Jim Fowler, one of the world's best-known naturalists and host of "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom."

The park will be divided into two sections. The west side of the park will simulate the experience of being on safari in Africa, Asia or South America. People will ride in mobile "cages" through areas of free-roaming exotic wildlife.

The park's east side will have an education center, wildlife art galleries, nature trails, "adventure playgrounds" for children and young animals, free-roaming North American wildlife, retail shops, restaurants and lodging. For information, contact the Brunswick Golden Island Visitors Bureau, 1-800-933-COAST or visit http://www.bgivb.com.

MISSOURI

American National Fish and Wildlife Museum (Springfield): Wonders of Wildlife, a 91,000-square-foot, $52 million museum will open in November. Highlights include 150 animal species, a 140,000-gallon freshwater pond, and a 220,000-gallon saltwater tank that will hold four species of sharks.

Two former U.S. presidents, Jimmy Carter and George Bush, serve as honorary co-chairmen and are expected to attend the grand opening gala on Nov.1. Information: http://www.wondersofwildlife.org.

St. Louis Zoo: The new Monsanto Insectarium offers interactive exhibits that entertain and educate visitors about the importance of insects in the ecosystem.

The walk-through Butterfly Dome flight cage is filled with semi-tropical plants and brilliantly hued butterflies.

Hip Hop Swamp, new to the Childrens Zoo, is a colorful maze of 14 species of amphibians in 12 displays. Frog Surround allows children to pop their heads into a clear acrylic "toadstool" and be surrounded by tiny dart frogs. Parents can take photographs from above.

The innovative design of the newly renovated River's Edge exhibit lets visitors feel like they're out in the wild, observing cheetahs, dwarf mongoose and spotted hyenas. Information: St. Louis Convention & amp; Visitors Bureau, (800) 916-0040 or http://www.explorestlouis.com.

NEBRASKA.

Henry Doorly Zoo (Omaha): Opening in spring of 2002, the Desert Dome -- the world's largest glazed geodesic dome -- will replicate three distinct desert environments: the Namib, the Great Sandy, and the Sonoran.

The 13-storey structure will include a cactus forest, sand "waterfall," a 50-foot "mountain," meerkats, pumas, canyons, lizards, hummingbirds and other desert flora and fauna. The Henry Doorly Zoo is also home to the world's largest indoor rain forest and the country's largest cat complex. Information: http://www.omahazoo.com.

OHIO

Cincinnati Zoo: The birth of a rare Sumatran rhinoceros is expected in late September or early October, marking the first time the Sumatran has been bred in captivity since 1889 in Calcutta, India. Only 300 are believed to exist in the wild, and just 15 in captivity. Information: (800) 94-HIPPO or http://www.cincyzoo.org.

Columbus Zoo & amp; Aquarium (Powell): The zoo that Jack Hanna made famous has welcomed five new West Indian manatees to its fold, for a total of eight. Information: www. colszoo.org.

Toledo Zoo: Mundooie, the zoo's first koala baby, was born last summer and is now greeting visitors. Also new this year are the giant Japanese spider crab (adults can span 12 feet) and "Close Encounters of the Bird Kind," a free-light bird show that runs through Labor Day. Information: http://www.toledozoo.org.

PENNSYLVANIA

Philadelphia Zoo: America's first zoo is hosting some ambassadors from "Down Under" through October. Visitors can stroll with the Wallabies in "Wallaby Walkabout," a barrier-free habitat. And, beginning June 9, koalas will be on loan from the San Diego Zoo in the Rare Animal Conservation Area. Information: (215) 243-1100 or http://www.philadelphiazoo.org.

RHODE ISLAND

Roger Williams Park Zoo (Providence): Trixie and Norton, the zoo's resident polar bears, are the proud parents of a new cub, born in December. Trixie and her soon-to-be-named daughter made their public debut over Easter weekend and are now officially welcoming visitors at the Arctic pavilion. Information: http://www.rwpzoo.org.

TEXAS

Fort Worth Zoo: Texas Wild! is said to be the largest zoological exhibit opening in the United States in 2001. More than eight years in the making, this eight-acre, $40 million exhibit is designed to show visitors "Texas in a Day." Replicating a circa 1900 Texas town, Texas Wild! will incorporate more than 200 animals that are native to Texas, such as the roadrunner, armadillo, Harris hawk and alligator. Interactive educational components will teach visitors about serious conservation issues that affect the Lone Star state's indigenous wildlife and wild lands. Information: http://www.fortworthzoo.org.

NOTE: If you have recently returned from the United Kingdom or another country that has been affected by Foot & amp; Mouth Disease, your local zoo may request that you refrain from visiting until you have been in the United States for at least five days. In certain cases, petting zoos may be temporarily closed and "backstage" tours suspended until further notice. As policies vary, you should check with the zoo's public information office before you visit.




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