Milwaukee Staycation: The Milwaukee County Zoo
Who needs expensive hotels and hours spent on airline layovers when you can save a few dollars and opt for a Milwaukee Staycation. Throughout the summer, keep an eye out for OnMilwaukee.com's ongoing Staycation articles introducing you to the sights and sounds of tourism in your own town. We hope these suggestions will inspire you to check out various local attractions, reveal hidden gems and reflect the best Milwaukee has to offer.
There'll be lions, tigers and bears, oh my. And, yes they'll be in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee might not be in the tropics, jungle or rain forest but you can get a feel for exotic wildlife without ever leaving town.
The Milwaukee County Zoo, 10001 W. Bluemound Rd., has been a center for animal education and exhilaration since it opened more than a century ago.
Originally just a miniature bird and mammal display in Washington Park, the Zoo has continuously expanded and now holds more than 1,800 mammals, fish, birds, amphibians and reptiles representing 350 species.
It wasn't until 1958 that the Zoo moved to its current location, a 200-acre piece of land on the West Side of Milwaukee.
With a new location and more space, the Zoo added the primate building, Monkey Island and Winter Quarters within the first decade. A few years later, Grizzly, Polar and Brown Bear dens complimented Feline, Pachyderm, Giraffe, Bird, Small Mammals and Australian Buildings. By the 1970s, a Children's Zoo, Train Shed and Zoo Hospital rounded out a significant size zoo.
Additions certainly haven't slowed down since the initial growth surt
Since the mid 1980's, we've seen the completion of the Wolf Woods, the Polar Bear and Sea Lion exhibits, the Dairy Complex and the Peck Welcome Center. The $10.7 million primate facility closely replicates the West African rain forest and a 28,000-gallon Pacific Coast Marine Aquarium houses a variety of sharks, fish and salamander species.
In the last 10 years, the Zoo added a renovated Macaque Island with 27 Japanese macaques and a renovated Feline building alive with jaguars and young African lions. The Children's Zoo has transformed into the Northwestern Mutual Family Farm impressing educational presentations and hands-on learning opportunities.
For the 2009 season, more than 1,000 birds from Australia land for the "Wings From Down Under" exhibit. Species like Eastern Rosellas, Grass Parakeets and Cockatiels migrate to the Milwaukee County Zoo for an impressive display of far and away birds.
It is impressive, to say the least. But beyond the Milwaukee County Zoo's local contributions, it has become one of the nation's leaders in endangered species protection. Protector of the endangered Humboldt penguin and a troop of 21 bonobos, the Zoo participates in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) as a commitment to the conservation of endangered species.
"Wings from Down Under" isn't the only new thing at the Zoo this summer. Zoo Ala Carte comes back in late August and the Zoo hosts the Great Lakes Bat Festival for the first time.
Throughout the summer, admission to the Zoo is $12.25 for adults, $9.25 for juniors ages 3 to 12, and free for children 2 and under. If you're a Milwaukee County resident, you receive $1.75 off your admission every day except Wednesday, when the resident admission drops to $7 for adults and $4.50 for children. Parking rates apply everyday of the week though; $10 for cars and $14 for buses.
A gem well worth the $50 a year for a zoo pass. We have such a great park system. I hope more is done for them.
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