The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is consistently touted as one of the best zoos in the nation, and with good reason. Their humane habitats, rehabilitation programs and educational opportunities make them a world-class institution.
For Trevor’s birthday back in July, my parents gave us two day passes to the zoo for use on any day we chose. We decided to wait until a weekday in September when neither of us worked, hoping to avoid the weekend crowds and to see some active animals due to the cooler weather. It ended up being around 84 degrees outside, but we still managed to see plenty of active animals up close!
The zoo is divided up into several main sections: Asia Quest, Australia and the Islands, Congo Expedition, Heart of Africa, North America, and Shores & Aquarium. We had just enough time to visit all of the regions and to see most of the animals that call the zoo home.
There are parts of the zoo that were closed for the season, including Jungle Jack’s Landing, their mini amusement park full of fair rides, and Zoombezi Bay, the attached waterpark. We didn’t miss either of those too much, but if they’re important to you, be sure to visit the zoo in the summer months during their peak season.
Trevor and I started our zoo adventure in the North America portion of the park.
We quickly made our way to the petting zoo, where I was quite taken with the mini cows. Trevor got to pet a goat. All around, an excellent start.
Making our way through the North America region, we saw a Mexican Wolf, prairie dogs, reindeer, a huge brown bear and more. The brown bear was even kind enough to temporarily wake from his nap and lift his head for a photo! There were also some massive bison, which we’re obviously big fans of.
The polar bears were really extraordinary. While we caught one fast asleep, the other was extremely active, even swimming right up next to the glass to check out her spectators!
After finishing up in the North America section, we made our way to the newest area of the zoo: the Heart of Africa.
This area is mainly home to the African animals that live on the plains, as opposed to the Congo Expedition that includes African forest animals. I was able to snap a few cute pictures of an adorable baby Vervet Monkey (above, right).
One of several highlights of the day for me was feeding a giraffe.
For just $3, Trevor and I both got to feed Otu, a reticulated giraffe. Otu was super excited about his lettuce. This is an amazing experience, and one I highly recommend if you’re visiting the zoo. You really get a great sense of how large yet gentle these marvelous creatures are!
Look closely past the glare here, and you can see a big, beautiful lioness lounging on the wing of a decorative airplane in her habitat!
After Heart of Africa, we moved on to Asia Quest. Watching that python move sent chills up my spine! I was much more of a fan of the flying foxes than Trevor was.
We spent quite a bit of time with the Asian elephants. At times, they seemed to be as interested in us as we were in them.
This Pallas’ Cat was too adorable not to share. He just seemed like a little house cat taking a snooze!
The reptile house offered some great, up-close looks at a variety of snakes, lizards, turtles and more. We’re still not sure what was supposed to be in the exhibit in the above right photo, unless it was, in fact, the Home Depot garden bag.
The Congo Expedition area got us up close and personal with more incredible animals.
Another highlight of the day for me was at the bonobo habitat, where a sweet baby bonobo took an interest in us and came right over, reaching out to touch the glass that separated us.
The baby’s curiosity was absolutely incredible, and it was really remarkable to have her show such an interest in us.
Zahra, a new arrival to the zoo, is a gorilla that just turned one year old. She was super active and having a lot of fun swinging around in her habitat!
After finishing up with the Congo Expedition and Australia and the Islands sections (where I managed to get exactly zero good pictures), we made our way to the Shores and Aquarium region. We stopped in to see the manatees right away. While trying to take a photo of the manatees, we were quickly photobombed…
…which resulted in my favorite photo of the day.
All together, we were at the zoo for around six hours, and we enjoyed every second of our time there. I hope to make it back soon for some of their special events and activities.
What’s your favorite part of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium? Let me know in the comments!