|Location||Safari Place, Druid Hill Park, 1876 Mansion House Drive
Baltimore, Maryland 21217 United States
|Land area||135+ acres|
|No. of animals||2,000+|
|Public transit access|| Mondawmin
"The Maryland Zoo" -- also known as "The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore" and formerly known as "The Baltimore City Zoo" or the "Baltimore Zoo" -- is a 135-acre park located in historic Druid Hill Park in the northwestern area of the City of Baltimore, Maryland, (U.S.A.), with the postal address of 1876 Mansion House Drive. Druid Hill was opened in 1860 as the first major park purchase by the City under foreseeing Mayor Thomas Swann (1809-1883), (and later as 33rd Governor of Maryland, 1866-1869) and was later designed by famed nationally-known landscaper Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), with additional work on various park buildings contributed by future Baltimore City Hall architect George A. Frederick (1842-1924), and Park Commissioner John H.B. Latrobe (son of earlier famed British-American architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe [1764-1820]), who also was an accomplished lawyer, author, artist, amateur architect and civic leader. Olmsted had earlier won a contest for the design of plans for New York City's famed Central Park in mid-town Manhattan in 1858, a year after it opened, and worked on the massive public works project during its construction from 1858 to 1873. The Maryland Zoo is now currently home to over 2,000 animals, and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is generally considered to be the third oldest (or by some other circumstances, the second oldest) zoological park in the United States, having opened in 1876, sixteen years after the historic Park itself was purchased and opened to the city public. For a number of decades in the 20th century, it was operated and supervised by the Baltimore City Board of Park Commissioners, and organized in 1860 with the first major city park at Druid Hill and later the city Department of Parks and Recreation, through their subordinate Bureau of the Zoo. It was later assisted by the organization of a group of supportive friends, animal and wildlife lovers in the Baltimore City Zoological Society, which performed a saving function in the late 1960s when changing demographic and historical populations in the surrounding communities around Druid Hill Park resulted in increased crime and some harassment incidents to the animal population, resulting in a few deaths and maimings, resulted in a protective fence erected around the Zoo campus, and entrance ticketing center and gates which previously had been open to the surrounding Park. In later decades, by 2004, a course of action between the City and the Society resulted in a semi-private and new independent operation arrangement with a separate board of trustees for the Zoo with increased private, state and suburban counties funding to supplement the restricting resources of the central City. This also resulted in a renaming of the old City Zoo as "The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore." For several decades from the 1950s to the 1970s, the City Zoo was made famous locally through the media-savvy and through the new medium of television with programs and promotions of Dr. Arthur Watson, the long-time zoo director. In 1980, when the famous iconic "Harborplace" festival marketplace pavilions at the Inner Harbor by developer James Rouse, opened by downtown Baltimore's waterfront business district and its Patapsco River and Harbor, one of the stalls/stores was of stuffed and children's play fiber animals called "Dr. Watson's Zoo," owned and operated by the now retired Dr. Watson.
In 2004, the zoo was struck by financial problems and was forced to reduce its collection size temporarily by closing parts of the zoo. The original Main Valley was closed due to its age, being incapable of holding animals comfortably with their older style of iron-barred cages and stone walls, and in addition, the Reptile House which is located some distance away from the main zoo in an adjacent section of the Park was closed. The reptiles, as well as gibbons, tigers, and snow leopards, were sent to other zoos and aquariums.
By 2008, Baltimore's Maryland Zoo was featured in "America's Best Zoos 2008."
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore has been always active in many conservation programs, notably "Polar Bears International," "Project Golden Frog," and their work with African black-footed penguins; it is the American zoo that has bred the greatest number of African black footed penguins. It also helps rehabilitate local wildlife, especially birds of prey, such as bald eagles.
The largest area of the zoo, "The African Journey" displays a wide range of animals originating from the continent of Africa.
Some of these African exhibits include:
The Zoo features a feeding station where guests may interact with the zoo's four reticulated giraffes by feeding them for a small fee.
Renovations on the elephant exhibit facility began 2007. In March 2006, the Maryland Zoo announced it would be accepting three female African elephants from the Philadelphia Zoo in Pennsylvania as part of the expanded elephant exhibit, but construction was then delayed and later the elephant loan was canceled. However, two new elephants came to the Maryland Zoo from Arkansas in 2007. On March 19, 2008, "Felix," one of the Zoo's female elephants, gave birth to a 290-pound male calf, the first elephant born in the Zoo's history. The baby is named "Samson" and is now viewable, weather permitting.
In February 2017, the first giraffe calf was born at the Zoo in over 20 years. Willow was born to parents Juma and Caesar, and was 6'1", and 125 lbs at birth.
Displaying animals found in Maryland, visitors can watch otters swim over their heads, jump across lily pads, explore a cave, or climb into giant bird nests.
The "Maryland Wilderness" featuring The Children's Zoo is dedicated to donator and supporter, Lyn P. Meyerhoff.
A small-model diesel train makes a one-mile circuit and over a 105-foot bridge through parts and scenery of the Zoo, remembering the heritage of the old Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in the city and state, with its long-time decorated colors of blue and gray colors on the locomotive and cars of the old historic road, first railroad built in America since 1827. There has been a zoo train for many years, though the equipment and route has changed several times. The current zoo train from 2010 is pulled by a bright red new detailed scale replica of the 1863-era "C. P. Huntington" locomotive, named for a famous railroading tycoon and magnate in California and Virginia in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The "Polar Bear Watch" features a polar bear named and Anoki, as well as grizzly bears, ravens, bald eagles, snowy owls and Arctic foxes. Guests can view the polar bear from underwater viewing areas, or from the windows of an actual massive Tundra Buggy, purchased from the Canadian company that creates these one of kind vehicles for viewing the polar bear in its natural habitat. Beginning in January, 2016, the Polar Bear Watch also became home to two rescued orphaned grizzly bear cubs. They were named Nova and Nita after the names were chosen in a public contest.
Magnet, another polar bear, won a contest put forth by Microsoft's Zoo Tycoon for best zoo animal. Magnet was available as a downloadable patch for the game and during the game, polar bears purchased via the Magnet icon would play with a red ball. The real Magnet died from kidney failure in 2015.
The Zoo's new state-of-the-art African penguin exhibit located between Polar Bear Watch and African Journey, opened on Saturday, September 27, 2014. It brings guests up-close to nearly 60 (and growing) African black-footed penguins and white-breasted cormorants in a vivid re-creation of their natural habitat along the coasts and islands of South Africa. There is an underwater viewing window and view to a tidal pool that creates a wave-like effect for the birds.
The Zoo gives guests an extra peek into the lives of the penguins with the opportunity to see them get their daily fill of fish with morning and afternoon feedings.
Penguin Coast also includes an interpretive building which includes a multi-purpose room for education programs and animal demonstrations, restrooms, and indoor space for special events.