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Best Zoo in New England
|View Poll Results: What is the Best Zoo in New England?|
|Franklin Park Zoo||3||25.00%|
|Buttonwood Park Zoo||0||0%|
|Capron Park Zoo||0||0%|
|Roger Williams Park Zoo||7||58.33%|
|Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo||1||8.33%|
|Voters: 12. You may not vote on this poll|
New England is home to very few zoos, and none of these really compare to other zoos across the nation such as the nearby Bronx Zoo. Most are small zoos with small budgets. Which of these New England Zoos do you think is the best?
Franklin Park Zoo Zoo New England
Stone Zoo Zoo New England
Southwick's Zoo Southwick's Zoo - More than a zoo, it's an adventure!
Buttonwood Park Zoo - Buttonwood Park Zoo
Capron Park Zoo New Home Page
Roger Williams Park Zoo Home Page | Roger Williams Zoo
Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo
Having been to all these zoos about a million times, I can tell you Southwick is by far the best. Even though FPZ is Boston's zoo it is no where near the quality that city should have. The breeding pair of Bairds tapir are cool especially when they have calves, the indoor gorilla exhibit is nice and the andean condors in the old flight cage I do like but thats about it. Stone is nice but small. I remember when this zoo bred gorillas, had elephant and hippo, and Major the polar bear saved the zoo from closing its doors forever. Capron is once again nice but very small. You can leisurely stroll through the zoo twice in an hour. The additions of warty pig, white s. african lion and pygmy loris make it a very interesting collection. Buttonwood would be a real contender but rumor is the Asia section will not be built and if it does it will not include the elephants or rhinos. The exhibits are quite nice but it is all native species except the two old ladies. Nothing exceptional. I enjoy Beardsley but it small in size, some areas of the zoo need revamping and I wish they would build the Andean or Asian Highlands sections. And honestly if I was driving to Beardlsey I would just go the extra hour down 95 to the Bronx. RWP is an easy runnerup to Southwick, most of the zoo has been updated, Africa and Marco Polo trail are very nice. My one real problem is polar bears. It is the zoos logo, they have done well here, and the old enclosure was by no means awful, in fact it is now the biggest bald eagle enclosure I have ever seen. The sad truth is they will not return. Maybe grizzlies but not polars, and with the death of Kenda at Ecotarium, polar bears are done in New England. Southwick over the last 10 years has grown in leaps and bounds. This year alone they have added tapir, hyena and siamang and continue to improve exhibits. This zoos enclosures were made up of chainlink, Balen cages and overall very small baren areas. With the new big cat enclosures came improvements with chimps, giraffe, rhino, kangaroo and pretty much every primate enclosure. This zoo has been my arguement for why zoos should not judged on wether they are AZA or not. Anyway Southwicks is New Englands best zoo.
I went to Southwick's about 3-4 years ago, and was impressed for a non AZA zoo. I'm glad even more areas are revamped (primates, giraffes, etc.) and I want to visit soon to see these new exhibits and animals (especially the hyenas.) Didn't they also add Red-Ruffed Lemurs this year, according to their website? I voted RWPZ as the best, but Southwick's would probably be my second choice, possibly tying with Franklin Park.
I think Beardsley is slowly improving. Since 2010, renovations have occured in the alligator and otter exhibits, new exhibits were built such as a very nice Bald Eagle exhibit, new species were added like rheas, Snowy Owls, and Sandhill Cranes, the zoo did even more conservation work like using oviductal artificial insemination on the Brazilian Ocelot and releasing Andean Condors into Columbia, both in partnership with the Cincinnati Zoo. What areas of Beardsley do you think need the most revamping? I feel the Predators area is especially begging for renovations. Although I would love to see the canceled Andean exhibit or the Asian expansion that never got its feet off the ground, what looks like a smaller expansion will be completed by 2017, including a new home for Greater Rheas and possibly Chacoan Peccaries, and a new species at the zoo: Giant Anteaters.
Diageo Donates $30K & 800 Volunteer Hours to Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo
I've decided to make this a review thread for New England zoos. Here's the first one, of my home zoo, Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo. It's a revised version of the one I posted on another thread. Enjoy!
Andean Condor Exhibit- This is the first exhibit you see when you enter the zoo. In it is a 1 year old male Andean Condor from the Denver Zoo named Desmond. This exhibit is really a small cage with some dead trees and other perches, which seems to be the normal housing for Andean Condors. Some former residents of this enclosure are Thaao, a male Andean Condor who was likely the oldest condor in the world and passed away in January 2010, and two Andean Condors who were sent to the Cincinnati Zoo in November 2011 to be trained to be released into the wilds of Columbia.
WOLF- In 2006, a cabin opened up between the former Gray and Red Wolf exhibits. This cabin became known as WOLF (Wolf Observation Learning Faculty). Before, the wolves were only visible through chain link fence, but now can be seen through glass. The former Gray Wolf enclosure is a nice size, and has a good amount of trees and plantings within it. It was home to 2 elderly Gray Wolves. The male was named Apache, and the female was named Cheyenne. Apache died in July 2012, and Cheyenne died on September 10th, 2012. As far as I know, their enclosure is still empty. On the other side of the cabin is a Red Wolf exhibit. It is a bit larger than the Gray Wolf enclosure, and has a fair amount of plants and trees in it. In this enclosure are what I believe is a mom and two grown-up daughters. The zoo has had lots of success breeding Red Wolves, and contributed 8 pups to the 1987 reintroduction of Red Wolves into North Carolina. Inside WOLF are many graphics that explain the past, the present, and the future of wolves, and the different kinds of wolves. There is still some chain-link fence viewing when you walk out of the cabin.
Miscellaneous South American Exhibits: After WOLF, you leave to the Maned Wolf enclosure. The Maned Wolf enclosure is a nice size and has some plantings and rocks. There are 2 female Maned Wolves from the Natural Science Center and Animal Discovery of Greensboro. These wolves are only occasionally on exhibit now due to construction in their exhibit. It seems a viewing hut that will have glass windows will be added. They can be viewed through fence and a small covered bridge. If you go up a hill, you'll arrive at the peccary exhibit. There are 4 Chacoan Peccaries in this exhibit, including a female born in late October 2011. Beardsley was the first zoo in the Northeast to exhibit this species. This exhibit is viewed from a boardwalk with glass panels for viewing, and some glass panels reach ground level so you can get eye-to-eye with the peccaries. This exhibit is somewhat small, but is incredibly lush, and only one part of it really isn't covered in plants. When you go down the hill again and past the Maned Wolves, you'll reach the Llama exhibit. This exhibit is simple and decent, with some shade, grass, and a rather ugly pool. The llamas seem to like the back of the exhibit though, and I've rarely seen them near the fence.
North American Plains- As you move on, you see one of the most popular exhibits in the zoo. The large colony of Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs are always active and always have a good amount of babies each year. To make this exhibit even more special, one can go inside a tunnel into little "pop-up" tubes. Kids and adults alike can get face to face with many Prairie Dogs, and it's a truly great experience. As you move on, you come to the bird exhibits and the bison exhibit. One bird exhibit houses a female Barred Owl, and the other has a Turkey Vulture. They are both very small exhibits and look almost exactly the same, and I honestly want them to be demolished. Between these bird exhibits is an American Bison/White-Tailed Deer exhibit. This enclosure is very nice and of decent size. It is nice and grassy, with shade, a tree stump, and rocks. There are 2 American Bison in this enclosure, and a small group of White-Tailed Deer. As you walk past the exhibit, there is a bit of chain-link viewing that lets you see the bison and deer up close near the left side of the exhibit, which is the bison's favorite hangout. The last exhibit in the Hoofstock area of the zoo is for Pronghorn. There is a small group of 1.3 Pronghorn in this exhibit. There exhibit is very good but dusty, and huge with trees, fallen logs, and shade.
Predators- This is my least favorite section of the zoo. Not in terms of animals, but in exhibits. The first thing you see in this area is an empty exhibit that used to house a male Andean Bear named Joaquin. He had two adjoining enclosures that were meant for when the zoo had 2 bears. He could travel to both small exhibits, but he always paced. He is now at the Good Zoo in West Virginia. The second exhibit is possibly the worst in the trio. It is the Canada Lynx exhibit. It is very small, and you don't know how much I hate it. There are 1.1 Canada Lynx at the zoo. The zoo is trying to breed the 2, but their exhibit is way too small for kittens. I honestly hope the lynx are just shipped out of the zoo. The last exhibits in this area is the Amur Tiger exhibits. The Amur Tiger exhibits are also two adjoining enclosures, similar to the Andean Bear exhibits, although the tiger exhibits are larger. They're far from a monstrosity, but aren't too great. There are 2 Amur Tigers here, Naka the female and Viktor the male. What's interesting about Viktor is that he was originally born at Beardsley in 2005, but was sent to Detroit later. But in December 2011, with no breeding success going on between the tigers at Beardsley or Detroit, Viktor was brought back to Beardsley to breed with Naka.
Alligator Alley- This section of the zoo focuses on the wetlands of Florida and other southern states. When you first enter, you are in a free-flight aviary with a Cattle Egret, Ring-Necked Pheasants, Green Herons, Black-Crowned Night Herons, Fulvous Whistling Ducks, Wood Ducks, Red-Eared Sliders, Florida Cooter Turtles, Yellow-Bellied Sliders, and Cooter Turtles. Their exhibit is simple, and perhaps a bit small, but nice and relaxing, and the birds seem fine. When you walk through another set of doors, you go to a North American River Otter exhibit. The exhibit is nice, and mainly comprised of 2 parts. The first part features the pool, which has that all-too typical waterfall that appears out of nowhere, along with a slide and ramp. Before 2011, the slide was a children's slide, a peeve of some people on this site. In 2011, a renovation to the otter exhibit made the slide more natural looking, like a hollow log, and added a ramp. The second part is grassy and allows a spot for the otter to rest, and is accessible via slide. There are 2 otters, a nine-year old male named Rizzo, and a new 1-year old female named Necedah, from Minnesota. After that, you see the Greater Sandhill Crane enclosure. Formerly housing a White-Tailed Deer, this exhibit has 2 Sandhill Cranes. Their enclosure is very nice and spacious, and is pretty lush during summer. Across from the cranes is the namesake of the exhibit, the American Alligators. This exhibit was renovated in 2011, and a roof for viewing, higher walls to prevent debris from falling in the pool, a new audio system for gator feedings, and a deck for visual appeal were added. Also, 5 new smaller male gators were added to the exhibit to replace the 2 huge males that were outgrowing the exhibit. After the gators is the only really disappointing enclosure in Alligator Alley. The fox enclosure is pretty small. There is an unrelated male-female pair of Gray Foxes in here. It's not too bad, and is outdoors and grassy, but still lacking in size.The last exhibit here is a very nice Bald Eagle enclosure. This is one of the best exhibits in the zoo, and is quite large. 3 male Bald Eagles from Alaska and Florida arrived in late June 2010. The eagles tend to stay near the back of their exhibit, but sometimes they like to go out further near public viewing. Most of the exhibits in Alligator Alley are viewable from ground level (aviary, part of otter enclosure, gator exhibit, crane exhibit) and part is elevated viewing (part of otter exhibit, fox exhibit, eagle exhibit).
New England Farmyard- This exhibit is supposed to give the feel of a farm in rural New England. There are domestic and wild animals here. When you enter, you see the North American Porcupine exhibit. The exhibit is small, and the porcupine always stays within her indoor quarters, and I've only ever seen her outside once or twice. Next to the porcupine exhibit is a raven exhibit. The exhibit is narrow and long to give the raven some room to fly. The exhibit is filled with children's toys for the raven to play with. Nearby is a Cotswold Sheep exhibit with two very charismatic sheep. Next to the sheep is a "new" enclosure. It's not technically new, but has been empty for a while. It formerly held Narragansett Turkeys, but has been modified a bit and now houses 1 Snowy Owl. This gorgeous bird came in April 2011, and has gone through a series of homes since its arrival, but hopefully this is its permanent home. Across from the owls is an exhibit for Guinea Hogs. Each summer there is a litter of piglets that are active and adorable, but this year, no litter was born. Then, there is a barn that you can walk through with several small and dusty exhibits. The exhibits in order are Norway Rats, Domestic Rabbits, a Domestic Cat, Striped Newts, and Barn Owls. The Striped Newts are part of a breeding program to hopefully be introduced into the wild. When you walk out of the barn, you see a smallish Dexter Cattle exhibit with some shade and grazing opportunities. An enclosure adjoining the cattle exhibit has 1.1 Greater Rheas. These birds came in November 2011 and made use of the long empty exhibit next to the Dexter Cattle, despite them being South American birds in a New England themed exhibit. However, the rheas will be moved to the new exhibit, Pampas Plains next year. Close by is a goat exhibit. This exhibit is covered in a hard concrete floor, and I think I heard it was because of something for the goats' feet. There are I believe 3 San Clemente Goats, 1 African Pygmy Goat, 1 Nubian Goat, and 1 Mini-Nubian Goat, if I got my breeds correct. For 25 cents, you can feed the goats pellets. Just be careful if you want to feed multiple goats, as they're incredibly selfish and will shove other goats to get their pellets. Across from the goats is a large duck pond with domestic breeds (Sebastopol Geese, Appleyard Ducks, Welsh Harlequins, etc.) and some wild species (Cackling Geese, Hooded Mergansers, and possibly more.) On your way out, be sure to check out a smaller pond that also has some domestic/wild waterfowl. The highlight of this pond are two gorgeous Whistling Swans that were added in March 2012. Also in the Farmyard is an awful Great Horned Owl exhibit that might be even smaller than the bird exhibits in Hoofstock, and contains a female Great Horned Owl. I'm just not sure where this dreadful exhibit is located exactly in the complex.
Reptiles of Connecticut- This small building is located inside New England Farmyard. It features reptiles and amphibians native to Connecticut. There is an outdoor enclosure for a Common Snapping Turtle that is a bit on the small side, but the turtle just likes to stay in his pond. Inside are average to small exhibits for many herps. The best (but still average) exhibits in here are a mixed species exhibit for Spotted Turtles, Eastern Box Turtles, Wood Turtles, and a Black Rat Snake, and an exhibit just for Eastern Box Turtles. The rest are simple terrariums for a Common Garter Snake, an Eastern Milk Snake, an American Toad, a Green Frog, an Eastern Gray Treefrog, newts that I can't remember the species, an Eastern Mud Turtle, baby turtles that I don't know the species of, small fish, and a massive American Bullfrog.
Bug House- A shabby little building you walk around with several terrariums for insects and arachnids.
South American Rainforest- This building does not open until 10:30 A.M., which may be a pet peeve of some on this site (cough cough*snowleopard*cough). Many new graphics and signage were added over spring of 2012, and have undoubtedly gotten some zoo visitors to read the signs as they now say stuff like "Can you see these animals? Insert list of animals in enclosure. The first exhibit is an average, but vertically tall exhibit for a Boa Constrictor. This exhibit is probably the only one that didn't get improved signage, possibly because the constrictor is a new resident to the enclosure, in March of 2012 when 2 Yellow Anacondas moved out. The constrictor likes to stay on her vine, but it's not terribly hard to see him. Nearby is an nice Yacare Caiman enclosure, with a pond and a nice amount of land space. Sharing the exhibit with the 2 caimans are a Mata-Mata Turtle, and Hispaniolan Sliders. There is a terrarium for Poison Dart Frogs nearby, and the colorful frogs get more attention than other frogs in the building. You enter through another set of doors. On one side of you is a free-flight aviary with Scarlet Ibises, Ringed Teals, Keel-Billed Toucans, Orinoco Geese, and a White-Lined Tanager. There are many perches and there is a stream for the birds. There are also 2.0 Agoutis in here that were added in August 2012. Next to that is a fenced in exhibit for 2 Golden-Lion Tamarins, a female Hoffmann's Two-Toed Sloth named Jabba, and Red-Footed Tortoises. The exhibit is of decent size, and there are branches and nesting boxes for the GLT's. The Red-Footed Tortoises are left alone by the tamarins, and have a fair amount of land and a tiny pool. On the other side is a large netted in exhibit for Goeldi's Monkeys and White-Bellied Caiques. It is quite a nice size for its inhabitants, with many branches for them to climb all over the exhibit. When you enter another set of doors, you come to the final part of the building. The first exhibit is a terrarium. There are Amazon Tree Boas and a Yacare Caiman hatchling in this exhibit. The snakes have branches and rocks to rest on, and the bottom of the exhibit is all water for its former occupants, catfish. However, they've been removed for the hatchling. The hatchling is the first crocodilian to hatch in Beardsley's 90 year history. The caiman portion of the exhibit is unfortunately too small. There is an all-indoors, but not too bad Brazilian Ocelot exhibit next. It's occupant is Kuma, a 3-legged and tailless ocelot who lost some body parts as a result of an encounter with an adult male when she was a kitten. However, she was a great mother to her two kittens, and she holds many records! I believe she was only the third ocelot to ever be artificially inseminated and the first for conservation purposes, she was the only ocelot ever successfully artificially inseminated twice, and was the first wild cat to experience oviductal artificial insemination. Her first kitten, Milagre who was born in 2008, was sent to Dallas in 2011, and Alya, born in 2011, has recently been sent to Buffalo. The exhibit is decent, with branches, a rock wall for her to rest on, a fake tree, toys, and a pool. Adjacent to this exhibit is a Black Howler Monkey/White-Faced Saki exhibit. The exhibit has ropes and branches. Nearby, protected from light with a blind, is a Common Vampire exhibit. Formerly a Green Iguana exhibit, the smallish exhibit has stalactites and stalagmites and has 18 Common Vampire Bats. There is little dishes with blood on the floor of the exhibit, but the bats like to stay roosted, and occasionally you'll see one fly. As you walk on, there is an Emerald Tree Boa exhibit. The resident is and the terrarium is average. Next to it is a tall average Amazon Milk Frog exhibit. Across from it are the last attraction in the building; Pygmy Marmosets. The cute little monkeys have a small exhibit with branches and a coconut hut. There are 2 marmosets. One is Weechie, who was a lone marmoset until Eko's arrival from Zoo Montana in June 2011. The zoo hopes they'll breed. Outside is a summer exhibit for the howlers. The fence is quite an eyesore, but it's nice to see the monkeys out in the sun. They have ropes, branches, nest boxes, and they like to climb on the fence itself sometimes. My real complaint with this exhibit though is why the sakis aren't allowed outside with the howlers as well.
Future Exhibits- In winter 2012-13, a new animal will arrive and be placed in the old bear exhibits. The exhibits are currently being renovated for this animal. There is not much info on it, so that's all I can tell you. I might be able to PM you the animal that will be going in the exhibit. I've already posted the animal several times on the forum as a worker publicly told me, but I'm going to try to keep it hush-hush from now on. The other new exhibit is Pampas Plains, Phase 1 of South American Adventure. They are building an entry area near the Maned Wolf exhibit that will have graphics and glass viewing for the wolves. Then you'll go up the path, to where the peccary exhibit is now. I'm not sure if the peccaries are getting a new exhibit or not. The rheas from the farmyard will be moved up to a new exhibit here, and Giant Anteaters will be a part of it as well. Brazilian Tapirs and Capybara are also possibilities. I read that the llama exhibit would be renovated for one of these species, probably the Giant Anteaters.
Overall, Beardsley is a small zoo that does need renovation in some places, but can be quite nice in other areas. I wouldn't go out of your way to see it, but if you have the time to see it, I would recommend a visit. Beardsley holds a special place in my heart as my home zoo though, so I might've gone soft in some places. Thanks for taking your time to read my review!
Photos of Some Exhibits:
Andean Condor Exhibit
WOLF- Red Wolf Exhibit
Hoofstock- Chacoan Peccary Exhibit
Hoofstock- Bison/Deer Exhibit
Predators- Amur Tiger Exhibit 2
Alligator Alley- Part 2 of Alligator Exhibit
New England Farmyard- Guinea Hog Exhibit
New England Farmyard- Eastern Box Turtle Exhibit
Brazilian Ocelot Exhibit
Last edited by BeardsleyZooFan; 01-10-2012 at 02:00 PM..
I'll be working on a Roger Williams Park Zoo review soon. Any New England ZooChatters out there (loxodonta, Phantom Gaur, Gulo Gulo, AnaheimZoo, etc.), feel free to post a review!
Last edited by BeardsleyZooFan; 01-10-2012 at 12:17 PM..
Roger Williams Park Zoo is the only AZA-accredited institution in Rhode Island and was the first zoo in New England to earn AZA accreditation. It has a focus on animals from Africa, Asia, South America, Oceania, and North America. I did not include the Farmyard exhibit or Hasbro's Our Big Backyard play area as I did not visit those locations.
Fabric of Africa- This is the first exhibit guests see when entering the zoo, and as many zoos know, it's good to make a first good impression with an African exhibit. The first exhibit is an adequate paddock for Wildebeest and Common Zebras. When you go on, there is an exhibit for African Wild Dogs with about 3 main viewing areas, all of them glass. The exhibit is very good. It's grassy and spacious, and houses probably around 3-4 dogs. Can anyone specify on this? Up next is an Aoudad exhibit. It's of decent size. It has a rocky hill with a stream in the center, and a grassy side on the left, and a more dusty side on the right. As you continue your journey, there is a West African Crowned Crane exhibit. It is a nice size for the birds, and has glass panels for viewing, something I've never seen in other crane exhibits. You're now approaching a village-like setting with eateries, a gift shop, and other guest amenities. Right before this is a new Red River Hog exhibit. I went before the hogs were there, but the exhibit was practically all ready. It is grassy and a decent size, and has glass viewing. These are the only RRH's in New England. Across from the hogs and the "village", are the stars of Fabric of Africa; the African Elephants. Roger Williams has 3 females, so they meet the future AZA requirement for every zoo to have at least 3 elephants if they are to keep these massive beasts. The exhibit is a fair size, and isn't as large as most elephant exhibits today, but is still adequate. There is also an excellent immersion pool that provides an excellent view if an elephant decides to go for a dip. Nearby is an exhibit for the other superstar of FOA- Masai Giraffes. Who doesn't love giraffes, especially when you could feed them? Their exhibit is simple and a decent size, and there are plenty of great viewing opportunities. There is also a barn called Jambo Junction nearby. There is viewing of the elephant and giraffe stalls. As you leave FOA, there is one last simple exhibit for African Spurred-Thigh Tortoises.
North America- This exhibit focuses on the variety of life that can be found in North America. The first exhibit is for Harbor Seals. Curiously, their underwater viewing area is set up right in Fabric of Africa, but they technically count as part of North America. Their exhibit is somewhat outdated. Next up is an exhibit for American Bison. It is a decent size and is grassy. Across from these lumbering icons of America is an exhibit for Pronghorn. It is a good size and is quite grassy. This was supposed to be the site of the future Polar Bear exhibit that was canceled. Nearby is a Red Wolf exhibit. The exhibit is a fair size, but has awful viewing opportunities and there is definitely room for improvement. If you up a path from the Pronghorn, there is a very good Bald Eagle exhibit. This sits on the site of the former Polar Bear grotto. While it may have been a small fit for the bears, the two eagles have plenty of room. There is also a nice overlook of the Pronghorn and Bison exhibits from up there, but guests are in the middle of the view.
Marco Polo Trek- Right after the eagles is Marco Polo Trek. This was my favorite area of the zoo. It makes you feel like you're Marco Polo seeing all sorts of animals in China. You enter to a representation of Venice, where Marco Polo was from. When you leave "Venice", then you go into a representation of Marco Polo's ship, where you can see what he might have brought on his journey. Exiting the ship, you begin on your animal adventure. You immediately see Dromedary Camels in an average paddock. It is a fair size, has shade, and the camels are separated from you by rocks and a short barrier fence. The next exhibit is for Asiatic Black Bears. It is much better than many bear exhibits in America. It has plenty of shade, rockwork, grass, and there is a large pool with underwater viewing. As one ZooChat member said, this might be the only Asiatic Black Bear underwater viewing in the world. It is not on the same scale as exhibits like Russia's Grizzly Coast, or Woodland Park's bear exhibit, but it is much better than the many unbearable grottoes scattered throughout American zoos. Adjoining that exhibit is the Snow Leopard exhibit. The exhibit for these majestic creatures isn't blow-your-socks off phenomenal, but it's pretty darn good, and joins several other good Snow Leopard exhibits in the US. There is mesh viewing, and glass viewing. There are many climbing opportunities, plenty of shade, plants, and good views. Across from these two predator exhibits is a Red-Crowned Crane exhibit that is decent. It's viewed from a boardwalk. Next to that is a Red Panda exhibit that is probably the weakest part of Marco Polo Trek. It's not bad, but the design could have been better done. The last and newest exhibit in Marco Polo Trek is the Sichuan Takin exhibit. These takin are the only takin in the Northeast. Their exhibit has varied terrain and shade, and the viewing is pretty good. As you leave MPT, there is a bunch of bamboo stalks right in front of mesh netting for another view of the leopard exhibit, so it looks like you are peering at leopards through bamboo. It works out well, as that viewing spot is one of the leopards' favorite hangouts.
Australasia- This area focuses on animals located in southern Asia and Oceania. You enter to an average White-Cheeked Gibbon exhibit with 1.1 of these energetic apes. It has ropes and fake trees, as well as some toys. Next to the gibbons is a building. Inside are average exhibits for a variety of animals, such as Northern Tree Shrews, fish, Matschie's Tree Kangaroos, snakes, turtles, birds, and Partula Snails. Outside is a decent-sized exhibit for Parma Wallabies with plenty of shade. Close by is an excellent aviary for Laughing Kookaburras that is lush and has a good amount of perching opportunities, and is viewed through mesh. Then there is a fair-sized exhibit for Chinese Alligators that is pretty but only a fair size. There is a good Babirusa exhibit after that, and a decent Binturong exhibit nearby as well. There is also a walk-thru aviary with birds such as Masked Lapwings and Eastern Rosellas, as well as Parma Wallabies. One of the last areas in Australasia is a yard for Radiated Tortoises. They are from the now closed and demolished Madagascar exhibit, but were oddly placed in Australasia.
Tropical America- Guests are greeted in Tropical America to an average, smelly Chilean Flamingo exhibit that has White-Faced Whistling Ducks Chiloe and Wigeons as well. This area has viewing for Eastern Gray Kangaroos and Emus that are technically a part of Australasia, but there is better viewing here, plus more of the habitat is actually in Tropical America. It is large and grassy. One of the newest additions to the zoo is also here. There is an average aviary for 1.1 King Vultures, the only ones in New England. There are plenty of perches and some flying room. One of the highlights of Tropical America is the Giant Anteater exhibit. It is an excellent anteater exhibit with grass, shade, a pool, and even viewing into their indoor quarters. There are many vantage points; one is even a termite mound- like structure kids could climb through to get up close to these bizarre mammals. A female baby anteater was born recently. Close by is the Tropical America building. The first enclosures are for Emerald Tree Boas and a Green Anacondas. The boas have a fair amount of room, but the anaconda exhibit is a bit too small for my taste. You then enter the main room of Tropical America. There is an enclosed area for Green Aracaris, as well as a tank for a large colony of Two-Spotted Assassin Bugs. Nearby is also a camera that gives a view into the anteater indoor quarters. The main focus of the room is on the free-ranging animals. There are plenty of birds such as Elegant Crested Tinamou, Sunbitterns. Red-Crested Cardinals and more birds. There are also free-ranging Cotton-Top Tamarins, which are quite energetic and fun to watch as they scamper above your heads. There is also a large fenced in area where birds can land, and there are also Red-Footed Tortoises. The concept is nice, however, the visitor experience isn't as good. There are puddles of water on the ground in many spots, and the murals are rubbish. Across from this are two enclosures; the first one has White-Faced Saki Monkeys. There are lots of branches and enrichment for them, and their space is decent. They are viewed through glass. The second exhibit is also glass-fronted and houses Golden Lion Tamarins and a Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine. I'm not sure if the GLT's are free roaming as well. The exhibit isn't as nice as the sakis' exhibit. The last room in Tropical America is darkened and there are fake replica bats right above you. A decent sized Jamaican Fruit Bat cave is the last exhibit.
Miscellaneous Enclosures- There are several exhibits throughout the zoo placed in random spots. There is a lush Reeve's Muntjac enclosure close to North America. Also, close to Marco Polo Trek is a subpar North American River Otter exhibit with one female. Thankfully, the otter will move to a new exhibit in 2014. One of the most popular exhibits in the zoo is for a group of Humboldt Penguins, and 1 White-Breasted Cormorants. This is probably the worst exhibit in the zoo. There is not enough land space for the birds in my opinion, and the pool definitely needs improvement. The pool is surrounded by concrete. Directly next to that enclosure is an average Patagonian Cavy exhibit. There are also some exhibits scattered throughout the zoo for amphibians and insects, including the American Burying Beetles that the zoo is famous for doing conservation work for.
Future Exhibits- A $15-20 million Polar Bear exhibit was planned, and was supposed to be located where the Pronghorn exhibit is now. However, the zoo has deemed this plan unfeasible during the current economic climate. Instead, the zoo looked into bringing in lots of new species. Three of them have currently been brought in- Sichuan Takin, King Vultures, and Red River Hogs. Other planned species include Moose, venomous snakes, Lorikeets, and additional monkey species. There is also planning going on for a brand new Tiger exhibit on Marco Polo Trail, due to a lack of cats at the zoo. I am assuming the subspecies will be Amur Tigers. In addition, an indoor exhibit for the Chinese Alligators is being planned.
Overall, Roger Williams Park Zoo is a fine establishment, and is well worth visiting. I believe it's the best zoo in New England, just ahead of Southwick's, and if in New England, you should take the time to see it.
Fabric of Africa- African Elephant Exhibit
North America- Bison/Pronghorn Exhibits Panorama
Marco Polo Trek- Snow Leopard Exhibit
Australasia- White-Cheeked Gibbon Exhibit
Tropical America- Giant Anteater Exhibit
Tropical America- Humboldt Penguin/ White-Breasted Cormorant Exhibit