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  #1
Zoo News
Old 30-06-2009

This zoo is located in Mendon, Massachusetts:

Southwick Zoo Homepage

According to their map they still have elephant rides:

Southwicks Zoo - Zoo Map

Anyone want to post a brief review of the zoo?
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  #2
Southwick Review
Old 01-07-2009

Sure, Ill do a review,
Since I grew up about 45 minutes away, I have been to this zoo more than dozen times, the most recent being about a month or two ago. It has greatly improved over the last five years and in my opinion is the best zoo in New England (I have been to every zoo/aquarium in New England at least twice if not more) and one of the best private zoos in the country. It also the largest zoo in New England. It started as exotic bird farm and then added exotic mammals and reptiles once more visitors started coming.
The zoo has had many different species over the years which included: Indian rhino, Malayan tapir, Nile hippo, Cape buffalo, spectacled bear, jaguars (there is a framed collage of Southwicks breeding loans in the gift shop from practically every major zoo in the country) and more but has more "common" exotics now.
Before you even enter the zoo there are picnic tables next to the African plains exhibit that allows you to watch the animals through a chain link fence. I always liked this because you didn't actually need to go into the zoo to see exotic animals. When I was there last there was construction going on and I forgot to ask someone what was happening. This is also near the skyride entrance which, I admit, takes away from the outside viewing.
As you enter there are shaded perch's for cockatoos to your left and on your right is a medium sized yard for capybara. It is well shaded and has a small pond. An average exhibit.
Across from the capybara, is a large yard for red kangaroos. They used to live in a small yard just a few exhibits to the right of their current enclosure, which had llamas and rheas. It is a good exhibit and different elevations and terrain which allows the 'roos to lay down in the grass or be eye level on the rocks.
Next the capybara are the bennetts wallaby. It used to be several different yards but now is one big one. It is an adequate exhibit with one of the only albino wallabies in the country.
Next to the wallabys are the giant tortoises. This is one exhibits that needs improvement. It is a small concrete pen with a small pond that houses two aldabras. They have everything they need but it is to small.
Across from the tortoises are the reeves muntjac and pheasents. This was once divided with muntjacs on one side and red 'roos on the other. When the moved the 'roos the knocked down the wall and gave them a large area to roam. An intresting note: these are the least skiddish muntjac I have ever come across. They will come up to the fence and sniff you and will sit next the fence with loud people right next to them.
Walking down past the food stand, heading towards the elephants, the first exhibit you will come across is the bearded pigs. They are new to the zoo and very cool. The exhibit is basic and their night house is basically a trailer but they have ample room and enrichment. The male is enormous as well.
Just past the pigs is the circus arena. I have not seen this show since I was a little kid but I think it currently has ponies and dogs in it.
Continuing on you will see dromedary camel rides on your left and the elephant area on your right. The camel areas has a small trail with asmall pen to hold other camels. They were not doing the rides when I visited.
The elephant area is divided into a few sections. First is the "exhibit" area that is basically where the elephant not being used for rides stays (I cant remember if they are chained). They currently only have one Asian elephant that visits in the summer and she was in this area with some ponies when I visited. The barn is very large but I could not see in it to it so I have no opinion on it. The next section is the elephant ride which goes into the "exhibit" section. Last is the demonstration area where the elephants perform behaviors. I have not seen this show in a long time so once again I have no opinion. The older shows had elephants going around the ring and standing on platforms. Nothing crazy. This area was one of the first parts of the zoo to be redone. The barn was enlarged and the area increased a bit. It is still a relatively small area but better than before. The elephants are not owned by Southwick. Instead someone comes to the zoo every summer with elephants. It recently changed from a single african and asian (she was nearly 70 when she died) to a single asian. I remember when there were three africans but that was a while back. The exhibit depends on your feelings about elephant rides. All together the area is an acre or two.
Continuing on the path you will run into the big cat area. This is one of the newest areas of the zoo. The cats were in small chain link cages that now currently hold primates. The new exhibits are large with lots of enrichment. The tiger enclosure is one of the largest cat enclosures in New England. I estimate it to be close to a half acre and has a large pool with a waterfall. It has a small climbing structure but I always see the tigers in the water or hiding in brush. They had an elderly white tiger that passed and now currently have juvenile white and normal tigers in the exhibit.
The lion exhibit is large too with a few more climbing structures and no pool. I have rarely visited and not seen the male and female sleeping. Both the lion and tigers have two viewing areas one is over a moat and the other is eye level through steel mesh.
The newest big cat enclosure is for their leopard Mowgli. It is easily the biggest leopard enclosure I have ever seen with huge climbing structures and areas to hide. The viewing is elevated so you see him eye to eye when he is up on the climbing structures. The only thing this exhibit is missing is a large viewing window in the indoor part of the exhibit. Also windows at the lion and tigers instead of mesh. All three are good big cat exhibits.
Also, on the zoo map, it says warthogs and future bear exhibits are in this area. The warthog exhibit is being built (they used to be in the bearded pig enclosure) and the owner might look into getting Asiatic black or grizzly bears but said the will probably be N.A. blacks.
Continuing on are various exhibits with African porcupines, binturong, b/w ruffed lemur, hyancith macaw and mandrill. These exhibit range from balen cages (lemur, macaw, binturong), decent (porcupine) to good (mandrill) enclosures. The porcupine exhibit was built a few years ago and looked nice but the porcupines really destroyed it (they had babies not shortlty after the exhibit was built and the added to it). The mandrill exhibit was built the same time as the porcupine. There are several viewing windows and a large steel mesh viewing area. The mandrills have a large tree in the center of the exhibit (which I'll get back too) for climbing as well as smaller climbing structures. There is a lot of hot wire that is an eye sore but overall a decent exhibit. They also had a young mandrill (I think only a couple months old) as well as a male and female adult.
Across from the mandrills is the North America exhibit. It is a train ride that goes through the marsh land behind the zoo to see native wildlife. They also have free ranging north American elk in this section as well.
Also in this area are reindeer and emu exhibits. They are decent sized but there are no signs and sort of hidden.
Next is the chimp exhibit. The chimps used to be kept in small concrete enclosures the size of a small living room with iron bars. The bars were mostly covered by mesh because they would spit and throw feces at visitors. They were the worst enclosures I have ever seen. A few years back they opened a new open air exhibit. It is just the opposite of Southwick's old chimp exhibits. The exhibit is at least one acre with a stream running through it, large climbing structures, a termite mound for enrichment, a night house 4x the size of their old exhibit, and heated rocks so they can venture out in the fall and winter. It is my favorite chimp exhibit. The only eye soar is hot wire that runs along the eye level exhibit. I was told that it wasn't going to be there until one of the chimps jumped across the moat. They just had a baby female which was the reason I went a few months ago.
Across from the chimps is a yard for sika deer which is average and has a feeding station.
Also across from the chimps is an Eastern colobus exhibit that is nice and the education house. The education house has a variety of species which are used for outreach and educational shows. Species include common marmoset (which have an outdoor exhibit attached to the building as well), juvenile Aldabra tortoise, juvenile american alligator, dumerils boa, a small anaconda, various macaws, milksnakes, caned toads, bearded dragon and more. I have also seen kinkajou, baby binturongs and a cougar cub. A stage is attached to the building where they have their animal shows. They use the animals mentioned before and babies they are hand raising. They have included white handed gibbon, ringtail lemur, red 'roo and African procupine. Next to the stage and bleachers is a viewing area to the zoo's white rhino. The rhino enclosure is barren with a wallow and a few enrichment items. It is relatively small area but the rhinos have been there for over twenty years and are in their thirties. They have a male and female.
Behind the bleachers for the animal show is a grivet monkey exhibit. The zoo got rid of most of their old balen cages in this area that they used for their primates a few years ago (when they did the other improvements). The new exhibits are much larger (tall wooden poles with mesh draped over them) with large climbing structures in them. These exhibits are used for the colobus, debrazza, ringtail lemur and the grivets.
Across from the grivets is another viewing area for the mandrills. The top of the large tree in the center of the exhibit is eye level with this viewing area. The mandrills seem very close when they climb up there.
To the left of the grivets are the debrazzas in a similar exhibit.
Across from the debrazzas is a small balen cage with a very old coati in it.
To the right of the coati is the white handed gibbon enclosure. It is a dome shape structure that is old but adequate as it has lots of bars and climbing structures for the gibbons to brachiate. it is an average exhibit.
Across from the gibbons is a small exhibit with a pot belly pig and a perch with a Buffons macaw. It is an interesting mix.
On the left, next to the gibbons, is the old emu enclosure, currently unoccupied.
On the corner is the one of the ringtail lemur exhibits. It is similar to the grivet and debrazza exhibits. Every time I visit one of the females has a little juvenile with it.
The Bactrian camel yard is across from the the lemurs and is average. Just recently a small enclosure has opened ,attached to the camel barn, that houses the zoos baby giraffe, Molly.
To the right of the camels is the yak enclosure. The yaks are kept in with huge boulders and has elevated viewing to look down at them. The yard is well shaded a fairly large.
The adult giraffes are kept in a small yard across from the baby and the camels. The exhibit is small and old but the giraffes have produced many offspring here. The owner plans on moving them from this enclosure to the large African plains exhibit in the future. I hope she would consider doing this with the rhinos, if possible.
Next to the giraffes is an average exhibit for swainsons toucans.
Across from the toucans are two old small concrete exhibits with prairie dogs and native turtles. Along with the giant tortoise enclosure, I want these two rip up and replaced.
Next along this path are the b/w ruffed lemurs. Their enclosure along with the next five are old carnivore enclosures. They didn't even seem like carnivore exhibits when they had cats and bears in them. They are much more appropriate for primates. They are old and made with chain link fence but they are practical with lots of climbing area and enrichment items.
Next to the lemurs are two juvenile gibbons. They are not young but are babies born at the zoo. Before the gibbons, the two tiger cubs resided here and before them Mowgli, the leopard cub, and even before him I remember N.A. black bears.
You can continue straight or take a left and go to the Helping Hands building and squirrel monkeys. The Helping Hands building was built so the zoo could breed capuchins for the Helping Hands program. Over the last year or two different species have popped up in there. Along with brown and white throated capuchins, I have seen schmidts guenon, ringtail and bw ruffed lemur. When I visited last, one of the outside enclosures had three ringtail females with very little babies. The squirrel monkey exhibit is average. Lots of climbing area and enrichment but the enclosure itself is nothing special and a pain to take pictures through.
Continuing straight from the gibbons are patas monkeys, columbian spider monkeys, an aviary with pheasents, waterfowl, and crown cranes, black capped mangabey and brown capuchins. Every enclosure is similar to the b/w lemur/gibbon enclosures except for the aviary. There are also two more concrete pits with a leopard tortoise in one and guinea pigs in the other. Just beyond the pits is a small enclosure that housed toucans for years but now houses kookaburro. It is nicely decorated but small and gets little sunlight.
To the right of the muntjac yard is a giant hyancinth macaw that has a small tree to perch in and starts the parrot area. The enclosures are old, small and made of chain link fence and concrete. They may be rotated out because different birds end up on different perchs and small trees through out the zoo. The species include hyancinth, scarlet, buffons, gold and blue, military, blue throated and african gray parrots. Other smaller parrot species are found in the Bird Talk area.
Behind the Bird Talk area is a a decent enclosure for pantagonian cavy.
Next exhibit on your right is the petting zoo with typical domestic animals.
On your left is a yard for llamas, a decent exhibit for aoudad and a decent yard for rhea. They are all old but adequate.
Across from the rhea and behind the giraffe barn are several small enclosures that house pythons, boas and small mammals.
Next to the rheas are small chain link enclosures for N.A. porcupine and schimidts guenon. They are a bit of an eye soar. Next is a balen cage that housed Gabby, a young gibbon, but now houses a blue throat macaw. The last exhibit in this row is an area for spur thigh tortoise.
Across from this row is the waterbird exhibit with black swans and flamingos that have a small pond but plenty of land. This area once housed African penguins as well.
Next to the waterbirds is the big alligator. He is in a basic alligator exhibit with a man made pond and grassy banks to bask on. Its a nice exhibit.
Continuing on the ankole cattle are on your right and have an average but large yard.
On you left is the multi-acre African Plains exhibit. This huge exhibit houses zebras, ostrich and asian water buffalo. In the past it has housed scimitar oryx and sable antelope as well. After some modifications it will house the zoo's giraffes in the future.
The last exhibit is the massive deer forest where people can feed the fallow deer that roam this area. It is always popular with mothers and kids.
As you leave, in the gift shop, the zoo has set up a kind of museum with old pictures, newspaper articles and those breeding loans I mentioned earlier. It is a great visual history of this zoo.
Overall, the zoo can improve in some areas but the sections of the zoo they have improved are great. The big cat, chimp and other primate exhibits are some of the best in the area. I would argue that it is one of the best non-AZA private zoos in the country. I have been to accredited zoos that are worse than this zoo. Franklin Park Zoo in Boston is not as good as this zoo and that is the major zoo in the state.
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  #3
Old 01-07-2009

Thanks for a wonderful, detailed review! It is interesting to note that there are very few world-renowned zoos (if any) around New England.
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  #4
Old 01-07-2009

Honestly, there are no world renowned zoos in New England. The New England Aquarium in Boston and Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, CT are the two best zoological facilities in New England and are two of the better aquariums in the country but we don't have a great zoo. The Roger Williams Park Zoo is probably the best accredited zoo in New England and is far from being an amazing zoo. Franklin Park Zoo in Boston is located in a bad neighborhood, horrible parking, has mediocre exhibits and a decent collection but nothing outstanding. They are developing a masterplan but I will see what is actually done (they had a masterplan years back but did barely half the exhibits they said they would). I like the Stone, Capron, Beardlsey and Buttonwood zoos but they are small to very small and have limited space or money to expand area or exhibits. Along with Franklin Park, Stone will be implementing a masterplan soon that has the potential to make them one of the best small zoos on the east coast but it will still be a small zoo. Capron has been redoing exhibits slowly and has greatly improved their collection (adding ocelot, visayan warty pigs, blue winged kookaburro and a male South African white lion that already sired a cub) but you can go through Capron thoroughly in a hour. Buttonwood is mostly native animals which is fine but all the exhibits are average. The recently accredited facility in N.H., Squam Lake Nature Center, has beautiful exhibits for native wildlife but is expensive and far from a major city. Beardlsey is in danger of closing which would mean no zoos in CT. The private zoos in New England are no better. Some of these zoos and exhibits should be closed down (Lupa Zoo in Ludlow, MA, Charmingfare Farm in Candia, NH, bear exhibits at Clarks Trading Post in Woodstock, NH, and the polar bear exhibit at the Ecotarium in Worcester, MA). Some are o.k. but need to renovate (York Wild Animal Kingdom, York, ME and Forest Park zoo in Springfield, MA). Only Southwick has started to improve exhibits and really stand out as a good New England zoo. Being a zoo nut all my life I never minded visiting my aunt in N.J., who lived down the street from the Safari Park at Six Flags and an hour from both Philly and Bronx. Considering all the educational institutes in New England you would think we would have a world class zoo to go along with them. Hopefully, someday..................
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  #5
Old 06-09-2011

I went to the zoo today, then I found out that they're building a new siamang exhibit by the warthog exhibit and the leopard exhibit, followed by a new white rhino exhibit at the former elephant site.
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  #6
Old 12-04-2012

I heard that they have a new hyena exhibit by the deer yard and a new giraffe exhibit.
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  #7
Old 20-05-2012

A baby Capuchin Monkey was born about 8 weeks ago.
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  #8
Old 02-07-2012

The new Brazilian Tapir exhibit has opened! It looks pretty nice, but it seems that they didn't mix in the Capybara with the tapirs.
A new lioness was added to the lion exhibit recently because Leroy's mate died. The two lions are getting on quite well.
A blog post has slightly disappointed me about the Spotted Hyenas. The post says Spotted Hyenas are scavengers by nature, which they aren't. Maybe I'm just taking it too seriously because I love hyenas.
I might visit the zoo this week, but I'm trying to decide between this or Roger Williams. Any advice?
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  #9
Old 02-07-2012

Since I work at Southwick's I'm a little biased. I also have been going to the zoo for the past 30 or so years so I've seen it change a great deal over the years. I also have a membership to Roger Williams and go every couple of weeks and have seen that zoo change over the years. So, I'll simply state the most recent additions at each. Southwick's has added a new Giraffe habitat last year as well as two new White Rhinos(the only Rhinos in New England) last year. This year's additions are Hyena,Tapir,Siamangs,Red Ruffed Lemur,Grevy Zebra as well as two new children's rides and a new gem mining area. Also, depending on how long since your last visit, Southwick's has the Skyfari Skyride. Roger Williams has a new area for their Crowned Cranes(their old area is being renovated for Red River Hogs),a baby Giant Anteater,they just put their King Vultures on display this past week,they opened their new Children's Zoo area a couple of weeks ago(no animals there until 2014 supposedly),new Sichuan Takin exhibit, and they added Chinese Alligators and Tree Shrews last year. Hope this helps your decision.
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  #10
Old 04-07-2012

Thank you Phantom Gaur, you were a big help! Although I would really like to see Southwick's, this week might be my only oppurtunity to visit Roger Williams this year, while I might be able to visit Southwick's later in the summer. Plus, I can get into Roger Williams for a discounted price thanks to Beardsley Zoo membership. So I've decided Roger Williams, but I'm looking forward to a Southwick's visit soon!
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  #11
Old 06-07-2012

I'm at the zoo today, and they said that they're building a future capybara exhibit (which is close to the siamangs) for next year.
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  #12
Old 23-09-2012

Watusi born recently.Baby Watusi and protective momma at Southwick's Zoo!
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  #13
Old 21-10-2012

A Grivet Monkey was born recently.
Baby Monkey born at Southwick's Zoo on 9/27/12!
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  #14
Old 22-10-2012

Lion cubs were born recently at Southwick's Zoo. The mother, Savannah, has never had cubs before, so zoo staff had to step in and raise the cubs. They are off-exhibit. The following are statements from the zoo's Facebook;
We'd like to introduce you to the newest members of our Zoo, (absolutely adorable) baby lion cubs. Savannah being a young, new mother didn't realize she had babies so we had to step in and help. We are so proud that Leroy's legacy lives on in his cubs! :-)...we're not sure the sexes yet. With the best interest of the baby cubs in mind, we're going to keep them off site for the next few days for health and safety reasons. We appreciate your understanding and will keep you all updated! Thanks!
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  #15
Old 28-10-2012

Today is Southwick's last day open for the season.
 


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