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Racine Zoo Birdsandbats' Racine Zoo Review

Discussion in 'United States' started by birdsandbats, 4 Jul 2018.

  1. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    Welcome to the Racine Zoo | racinezoo.org

    Date of visit: July 3 2018

    Racine Zoo is a 28-acre AZA-accredited zoo located in Racine, WI. It first opened in 1923.

    Entrance
    Parking is awful.

    The zoo's entrance is really quite nice. There are some nice plants in well kept gardens, and an exhibit for Umbrella Cockatoo can be seen before entering. The downside is that you have to wait in line to get in. It's not a long wait (at least when I went), but still a minor annoyance. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for children 15 or younger, $7 for seniors.

    Benstead Discovery Center
    Basically a reptile house, it serves as a weird entrance exhibit. While not bad, it gives off a weird feeling. There are average terrariums for Green Tree Python/Marine Toad, Rhinoceros Iguana, Amazon Tree Boa, Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, Brazilian Salmon Pink Bird Eater Tarantula, Sundan Plated Lizard, Yellow Anaconda, New Caledonian Giant Gecko, Ornate Box Turtle, Red-Eyed Tree Frog, Gray Tree Frog, Eastern Tiger Salamander, and Central Bearded Dragon.

    But the next three is where the weird comes in. There is an exhibit for Umbrella Cockatoo, the same one that can be seen from the entrance. It is average, though it is weird seeing people through the exhibit. There is a strange Lake Malawi tank that is very barren. Just substrate, a few rocks, and three species of fish (Yellow Lab, William's Mbuna, Orange Blue Mouth Breeder). There is also an average exhibit for Straw-Colored Fruit Bat, which seems out of place.

    Zootique
    The Zootique serves as the zoo's gift shop and exit. Inside the Zootique, there is a too-small indoor exhibit for an African Spurred Tortoise, and an average tank for a Siamese Fighting Fish. Outside, a slightly above average outdoor exhibit for the tortoise. There is also an average exhibit for Western Screech-Owl. Being from the eastern half of the US, this is my first time seeing this species.

    Vanishing Kingdom
    Vanishing Kingdom is a mostly indoor zone (with two outdoor exhibits) that serves as the zoo's rainforest complex. Upon entering the building, there are terrariums on either side of you with no (live) animals in them. One contains information on the zoo's conservation efforts, and the other has some confiscated items made of endangered species. The other is about seafood watch.

    There are exhibits on both the right and left side of the building. We will start with the first exhibit left of the main entrance and go around. The first is an average indoor area for White-Handed Gibbons. The next is for orangutans (both Bornean and hybrid). It is filled with climbing opportunities, and the apes were actually using them. It would be a fine indoor area for the two orangs they have, except for one thing. THEY HAVE NO OUTDOOR EXHIBIT!!!!!!! After this is an average indoor area for Black-Handed Spider Monkeys. After this, a slightly above average exhibit for Emperor Tamarins. According the sign, they are one of only two US zoos to breed the species. Is this actually true? Going on to the other side of the building, an slightly average exhibit for a pair of Yellow-Crowned Amazons. The reason I say it is slightly above average is that it is the first naturalistic exhibit I have seen for this species. The next exhibit is an indoor area for Arctic Foxes (got to love the rainforest theme here). Again, an exhibit with no outdoor space! It seems okay, though.

    I know what you were thinking. You were thinking, "You know what this complex needs? Another exhibit for an interesting, relatively large species with no outdoor access!" Well, you wish is granted, this time with a pair of Fossa exhibits. I was very exited when I saw the Fossa, as this is my first time seeing this species. Overall, not a terrible exhibit, but still, an outdoor area would be a nice addition. The final indoor exhibit is for the Lions. It looks similar to Lincoln Park...

    The two outdoor areas are for the gibbons and spider monkeys. The exhibits are average, but it is always fun to watch these species, especially when the gibbons are calling.

    Great Cat Canyon
    The two average exhibits for African Lions and Amur Tigers are pretty much the same. The main (no pun intended) differences between these exhibits are that the Tigers have a pool and a small climbing structure. The Lions don't. There is also an very good exhibit for a Canada Lynx. This is defiantly the best of the exhibits at GCC. Lots of room for such a small cat, and the entire exhibit is view-able (with hides, of course). Very impressive.

    Meerkat Manor
    An average exhibit for Meerkats that is nice, but nothing special. It's got a good amount of digging space.

    Mt. Mouflan
    An average mountain ungulate exhibit that looks like it used to be for seals. It's a little mock rock-y, but not terrible. They have a nice pool, with two waterfalls. The best part of this exhibit is the species it features. West Caucasian Turs! Racine is the only zoo in the US to have this species. So, of course, this is my first time seeing this species.

    Penguin Pals
    Awful. It's a very outdated exhibit for African Penguins and doesn't have that much room. The underside of the pool is painted blue, and it makes the entire exhibit look the color of a smurf. At least the penguins were fun to watch. They seemed intent on catching a dragonfly's shadow.

    Charles & Jennifer Johnson Giants of the Savanna
    This exhibit for African animals starts on a high note with an slightly above-average outdoor exhibit for Fennec Foxes. Wow, these animals really fit the giant theme. They are huge! :p The next three exhibits are average paddocks for Eastern Black Rhino, Hartmann's Mountain Zebra (first time!), and Masai Giraffe. However, none of these animals have indoor viewing! If you go in the winter, there probably isn't anything here! It looks like there might be a new (outdoor) exhibit being constructed, but it might just be a deck.

    Raptor Roost
    Two slightly below average exhibits for Red-Tailed Hawk and Great Horned Owl. Apparently, the hawk, named Rudy, is a locally famous animal. The reason these two exhibits are below average is they are build behind a bunch of trees, and the exhibit has a roof. Between these two things, there is just not enough light in the exhibits.

    The Raptor Roost is sort of out of the way, and hard to find unless you are looking for it. It sort of feels forgotten.

    Stork Aviary
    An excellent free-flight aviary containing two rarities, Lesser Adjutant and Western Tufted Deer. This is my first time seeing both these species. The exhibit is excellent. It is built over a marsh, and there are lots of hiding places. Except for the deer barn near the entrance, it feels as if you are in a swamp in southeast Asia and seeing these species in the wild. Amazing. 10/10.

    Walkabout Creek
    The first exhibits here are viewed from outside, despite being indoor exhibits. The first of these is for Common Degu. A South American animal in an Australian exhibit. The exhibit reminds me of a living room or a cat cafe. Filled with toys and decorated structures, with zero naturalism. Seems to be functional though. The next animal here makes slightly more sense: Guam Rail. The exhibit is filled with hiding spots, and plants both real and fake. I do like this species, but it unfortunately was hiding. If you didn't already guess, the next exhibit is an above average Australian walkabout, but nothing too special. Species here are Red Kangaroo, Emu, and Common Wallaroo. There is also an aviary for a Tawny Frogmouth here.

    Also, why is this place called Walkabout Creek? I get that it is a Crocodile Dundee reference, but there is no water here. The is a giant plastic lined pit in the center that looks like it might have had water in at some point, but, judging by the tall prairie plants growing here, it hasn't for a while. This pit is marked as a pond on the zoo map, but the zoo map is awful.

    Norco Aviary
    A good-sized Budgerigar free-flight aviary. I was kind of disappointing when I found out it was just Budgies. On the map and the website, it just says Norco Aviary. I was at least expecting something slightly more interesting.

    Also, there was a place to deposit used feed sticks, but I didn't see where you buy feed sticks. :confused:

    Barnyard Safari
    Barnyard Safari is made up of three exhibits, with one being a walk-through. The other two are view-able only from the walk-though. The walk-though is for Domestic Sheep and Goats. There was a sign saying you could get a brush to brush the animals, but, again, no brushes could be found. The other two exhibits are a little on the small side Llama exhibit, and an average exhibit for Domestic Pigs.

    Bear Ridge
    A below average exhibit for Andean Bears. The only shade is in the dark hard to view dens, and hotwire is overused (there is howire in front of the glass viewing areas!).

    Website and Map
    They have an awful map. Racine Zoo Map | racinezoo.org
    And they're website is worse. This should be an example: Black Swan Fact Sheet | racinezoo.org

    Conservation Efforts
    Racine Zoo is part of the 96 elephants campaign, which is helping to stop elephant poaching. On a national level, the Racine Zoo helps collect data for the Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey, helps with the Butterfly Conservation Initiative, participates in FrogWatch USA, helps educate the public through the Plant. Grow. Fly. Program, and has education stuff about SeaFood Watch. Racine helps monitor endemic frog species in the West Indies, works with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, helps monitor populations of Desert Flamingos in Chile, helps with Andean Condor reintroduction and Andean Bear tracking in Ecuador.

    Website (again)
    Go to this page and click some of the links. Some lead the wrong places. The butterfly conservation one is the worst.

    Overall, I am not sure what to say about Racine. It's a strange zoo. Parts are great, but others, not so much. Parts of it don't even feel like an AZA zoo. Admit it, when you were reading this review, you eventually forgot it was AZA-accreditied, didn't you. Exactly.

    However, I always like to look on the bright side of zoos like this. I definitely enjoyed my visit, and would be happy to visit again. If you are in the area, I highly recommend you visit the Racine Zoo. I hear an outdoor orangutan exhibit is planned.

    On-Exhibit Species List
    Mammals (26 species)
    Red Kangaroo
    Eastern Wallaroo
    Emperor Tamarin
    Black-Handed Spider Monkey
    Black-Handed Gibbon
    Bornean Orangutan
    Bornean Orangutan x Sumatran Orangutan (hybrid)
    Common Degu
    Straw-Colored Fruit Bat
    Llama
    Domestic Pig
    Nubian Giraffe
    West Caucasian Tur
    Domestic Goat
    Domestic Sheep
    Hartmann's Mountain Zebra
    Eastern Black Rhinoceros
    Western Tufted Deer
    Amur Tiger
    African Lion
    Canada Lynx
    Fossa
    Meerkat
    Fennec Fox
    Arctic Fox
    Andean Bear
    Birds (9 species)
    Emu
    Guam Rail
    African Penguin
    Lesser Adjutant
    Red-Tailed Hawk
    Great Horned Owl
    Western Screech-Owl
    Umbrella Cockatoo
    Yellow-Crowned Amazon
    Reptiles (9 species)
    Ornate Box Turtle
    African Spurred Tortoise
    New Caledonian Giant Gecko
    Sudan Plated Lizard
    Rhinoceros Iguana
    Central Bearded Dragon
    Amazon Tree Boa
    Green Tree Python
    Yellow Anaconda
    Amphibians (4 species)
    Red-Eyed Tree Frog
    Gray Tree Frog
    Marine Toad
    Eastern Tiger Salamander
    Fish (4 species)
    Siamese Fighting Fish
    Yellow Lab
    William's Mbuna
    Orange Blue Mouth Breeder
    Inverts (2 species)
    Madagascar Hissing Cockroach
    Brazilian Salmon Pink Bird Eater Tarantula

    Total: 54 species

    I can confirm through items in the gift shop that these species may be found behind-the-scenes:

    Western Fox Snake
    South American Coati
    Kenyan Sand Boa
    Striped Skunk
    Linne's Two-Toed Sloth

    According to the zoo's website, these animals may also be found behind-the-scenes. Take these with a grain of salt:

    American Toad
    Central Newt
    American Alligator
    Blanding's Turtle
    Colombian Red-Tailed Boa
    Common Musk Turtle
    Desert Tortoise
    Tokay Gecko
    Western Hognose Snake
    Black Swan
    Cockatiel
    Golden Pheasant
    Helmeted Guineafowl
    Lady Amherst's Pheasant
    Marabou Stork
    Western Rosella
    White-Breasted Cormorant
    Lesser Madagascar Tenrec
    Alpaca
    Woodchuck

    Awards
    Most Animal Ambassador

    Best Free-Flight Aviary that Includes Deer With Tusks

    Strangest Vibe

    Most Out-Of-Place Degu

    The Zoo it is Hardest To Give Awards Because Birdsandbats Can't Think Of Anything

    Sorry. Maybe I will post more awards on this thread in the future.

    I have now visited every AZA zoo in the state of Wisconsin.
     
  2. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member 15+ year member Premium Member

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    Thanks for the informative review...much appreciated. The zoo hasn't really changed from when I was there in 2014.
     
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  3. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    I somehow forgot to include the Tawny Frogmouth on the bird list. That brings the total of bird species to 10 and the total species to 55.
     
  4. Milwaukee Man

    Milwaukee Man Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    I agree with most of this review. Very nice look at what I feel is a slightly underrated small zoo. :)

    *Was the arctic fox exhibit across from the indoor spider monkeys? On previous visits, that's where the coatis normally were.

    *Under the species list, Racine has Masai giraffes, not Nubian.
     
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  5. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    The coatis are now kept behind-the-scenes.
    Not sure how that happened! They are listed as Masai in the review.
     
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  6. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    What parts don't you agree with? I would like to hear your opinion.
     
  7. Milwaukee Man

    Milwaukee Man Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    Finally got around to replying back.

    Probably just personal opinion, but I liked the meerkat exhibit a little more, and Walkabout Creek is among the best Australian walkthrough exhibits I've seen. Also, could you expand on the "strange vibe" comment? Was it mainly the mish-mash in exhibit quality?

    Apologies if this got taken the wrong way - it's always cool to hear different points of view, and again great review! :)
     
  8. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    No, it didn't get taken the wrong way. I was just curious about your opinion.

    It just felt strange. I have gone to a lot of roadside zoos, and they seem clearly different from an AZA-zoo. Parts of this zoo felt more like a roadside facility than a AZA-zoo. That's what I meant by that.
     
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  9. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member Premium Member 5+ year member

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    Regarding the emperor tamarins: Racine is one of only two zoos in the US consistently breeding them. To be more specific, there are only two successful breeding pairs in the country right now, and Racine has one of them; the other pair is at the Como Zoo in St. Paul, Minnesota. There was a recent plan to import new individuals from abroad, but I'm unsure if that is still the case.
     
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  10. Sarus Crane

    Sarus Crane Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    I want to go here to see the Lesser Adjutants. Is their breeding program for them as prolific as the Bronx Zoo? I haven't been there either. Are they as tall as Marabous? I've noticed that Lesser Adjutants are less likely to keep their heads and necks hunched like Marabous. I also like that their necks are that nice shade of yellow during the breeding season.
     
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  11. The Speeding Carnotaurus

    The Speeding Carnotaurus Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    Just a bit of an FYI, the Arctic Foxes live in Norco Aviary during Winter. Other than that, yeah, the zoo is a bit weird...
     
  12. LesulaMonkey

    LesulaMonkey Well-Known Member

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    I thought the Hemker Zoo in Minnesota has them.
     
  13. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    What?
     
  14. LesulaMonkey

    LesulaMonkey Well-Known Member

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    They do according to their website.
     
  15. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    No, I mean what are you referring to?
     
  16. jaguar95

    jaguar95 Member

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    How do you make a species list on Zoochat?
     
  17. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member 5+ year member

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    You simply make a list of every species present at a collection and post it here. It’s usually pretty simple, although it’s easier to do this at some zoos compared to others.
     
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