Rio Grande Zoo - Main Plaza

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The Rio Grande Zoo — Main Plaza — Dayzone — Albuquerque

  At the Rio Grande Zoo, rocky outcrops, grassy meadows, towering cottonwoods, shimmering waterfalls, and tranquil pools create an oasis for exotic and native species. Visitors will come face-to-face with over a thousand animals of every shape and size, each one receiving the best of care every single day. Great effort has been made to make the animals comfortable and the habitats are large and well suited to the nature of the creatures within them.
  There are animals of all shapes and sizes here, from elephants, to bison, to snow leopards, to kangaroos, to alligators, to gazelles, to tropical birds. The World Animal Encounter show brings certain animals up close to the public twice daily during the summer. Children will especially enjoy the hands-on stations throughout the Zoo, where they will be able to do things like touch a mountain lion pelt, dig for fossils, and learn about animal health. Strollers, lockers and kennels are available for rental at visitor services on the main plaza. Free wheelchairs are available on request; the Zoo is fully handicapped-accessible.

Obvious exits:
African Savannah <W>  Tropical Rain Forest <E>  Lobo Woods <S>  Parking Lot <N>  

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Primate Island:
A walkway takes visitors around Primate Island, a state-of-the-art facility housing where our closest cousins, the great apes, and various other primates. Gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans have spacious recessed enclosures where they can run freely, separated from the public by moats and a concrete wall. Smaller primates such as siamangs, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, gibbons, mandrills, and baboons also have large habitats, where they can swing from netting, play with toys, and clamber among rocks and trees.

The Arctic Exhibit:
The Arctic Exhibit includes seals, sea lions, Arctic foxes and, of course, polar bears. The new polar bear habitat allows visitors to watch these majestic animals swimming underwater through glass plates which reveal their sizeable pools. Climbing the steps, one can then watch the polar bears playing on the shore of their swimming area. The seals and sea lions habitat is constructed in a similar fashion. Twice daily, a crowd gathers to watch these animals frolic during their feeding time.

The Aviaries:
There are several Aviaries located at the Zoo. The first is the must-see Birds of Prey aviary, where birds such as bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, Harris hawks, great horned owls, American kestrels, and falcons soar through their enclosures. Even carrion feeders such as vultures are showcased in this aviary. A daily Bird of Prey show familiarizes Zoo visitors with these majestic birds. The second aviary recreates the atmosphere of a tropical forest. There are trees and flowers everywhere, with artificial streams and pools containing goldfish. The colorful birds are allowed to fly around, without restraint. Toucans, parrots, lorikeets, birds of Paradise, and numerous waterfowl are just some of the fun birds which can be seen in this display.

The Nocturnal House:
The Nocturnal House is an especially interesting section of the Zoo, as it houses animals that are normally only active at night, and thus would not be seen during the day. A variety animals, including bats, slow-moving loris, pacas (slow-moving rodents from the Amazon), and lemurs inhabit this darkened building, which visitors can quietly walk through after their eyes have become acclimated to the dim lighting. The animals are all housed in spacious enclosures, separated from the public by panes of shatter-proof glass.

La Ventana Gift Shop:
This is the park's gift shop, located close to the park's entrance; it is definitely worth a visit after a day of enjoying the Zoo. Upon entering, one sees the rows upon rows of plastic and stuffed animals — lions, tigers, bears, lizards, wolves, and so on. The store seems truly designed for the young at heart, as there is a veritable multitude of children's toys and games. The store is also well-stocked with souvenir t-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, mugs, jewelry, and other countless trinkets. There are coloring books, videotapes, various animal-related fiction, as well as calendars and post cards. The gift shop also sells film, batteries, and disposable cameras.

The Cottonwood Cafe:
The Cottonwood Cafe offers an extensive menu with cafeteria service from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The food ranges from simple fare, such as hot dogs, burgers, and sandwiches to soups, salads, and entrees. In the summer, outdoor grills offer up barbecue fare for visitors' delight. The Cafe is decorated with colorful paintings of animals, and the atmosphere is quiet and relaxing. There is both indoor and outdoor seating; colorful zebra-stripe umbrellas provide shade in the outdoor section.
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