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Roger Williams Park Zoo

Discussion in 'United States' started by jusko88, 14 Feb 2012.

  1. jusko88

    jusko88 Well-Known Member

    13 Dec 2011
    Where the 3 Rivers Flow
    Is this zoo worth checking out? I see there opening a new children's section this summer and it says new animal exhibit. Is it a asian animal because on the zoo map where it says the new exhibit is it's right in between the snow leopard and red panda.
  2. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

    1 Dec 2007
    Abbotsford, B.C., Canada
    In the summer of 2010 my wife and I visited 39 zoos/aquariums in 46 days. Here is my full review of Roger Williams Park Zoo:

    DAY 19: Friday, July 30th, 2010

    Zoo/Aquarium Review # 15: Roger Williams Park Zoo

    Roger Williams Park Zoo’s website:

    RWP Zoo : Home

    Zoo Map:

    Roger Williams Park Zoo is a small zoo in Providence, Rhode Island, a tiny American state on the east coast. In the states deemed as “New England” territory (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut Massachusetts and Rhode Island) there are not many notable zoological collections, and thus Roger Williams Park Zoo is regarded as perhaps the best of the few major zoos that exist in that part of the country. I found my visit to my highly enjoyable, and even though the zoo only took 2.5 hours to see there are a number of high-profile species and high-quality exhibits within the grounds. There are somewhat surprisingly no lions, tigers or great apes, but there are enough animals to keep even hardcore ZooChatters content!


    Plains of Africa – A decent African elephant enclosure for 3 pachyderms contains a large pool, at least 5 Masai giraffe are next door in a rock-lined enclosure (including a 3 week-old baby giraffe that was galloping around its exhibit), West African crowned cranes have a spacious enclosure, wildebeest and zebras share a paddock, aoudad reside in a rocky yard, and African wild dogs have a very large and grassy enclosure to roam. This part of the zoo is the first section that all visitors see, and while it only has 6 exhibits all of them are perfectly acceptable and offer an exciting entrance to a small zoo.

    Marco Polo Silk Road – This themed area has 5 exhibits, where coincidentally all of the animals come in twos, and it features the best snow leopard exhibit that I’ve seen on this road trip. It is a thousand times better than the tiny cages that these big cats reside in at the Cleveland and Tulsa zoos. The enclosure is not huge, but it is heavily planted and features a steep cliff where the two cats were extremely active in the shade. This zone also features an above average Asiatic black bear exhibit that is rocky and also lush with vegetation for the two bears, a red panda exhibit where visitors strangely look directly down upon the two animals, two red-naped cranes in an ugly yard and a pair of dromedaries in an average paddock.


    Australasia – A small building has Matshie’s tree kangaroos and average tanks for crayfish, fish and some invertebrates. There is an indoor aviary with these species: Bali mynah, Jambu fruit dove, Wonga pigeon and Silver-eared mesia. Outside are average enclosures for babirusa, binturongs, white-cheeked gibbons, parma wallabies, Chinese alligators (new for 2010), a large emu/eastern grey kangaroo yard and a very impressive kookaburra aviary. There is also a walk-through aviary for birds, and in general this entire area is fairly small and unspectacular.

    North America – A polar bear is on this zoo’s logo, and the gift shop is packed with everything imaginable that contains photos of polar bears. However, a few years ago the zoo decided to send its bears elsewhere rather than live in an outdated bear pit, which has since been converted into a pleasant, open-topped bald eagle exhibit. There is a sign posted up where the future polar bear habitat will go, but the zoo is waiting on funding and a set time frame for the expensive plans. In this area are pronghorns, bison, red wolves (with a chain-link enclosure with terrible viewing opportunities) and nearby enclosures for muntjacs and African spurred tortoises. This whole area, except for the new bald eagle exhibit, is going to be slightly renovated once the polar bear exhibit actually gets constructed in a few years. There has already been the removal of both peccaries and Arctic foxes from the zoo.

    Farmyard – Another children’s farm at a major American zoo, and this one is no better or worse than all the others.


    Tropical America – A Humboldt penguin/white-breasted cormorant pool is terrible, an adjacent mara enclosure is disappointing, a pretty pool with Chilean flamingos, Chiloe wigeons and White-faced whistling ducks is average, and a nearby harbor seal pool has underwater viewing but a bare, cement pool that looks as if it was built by the same design firm that constructed most of the Milwaukee County Zoo. There is a new, excellent and rather lushly planted giant anteater exhibit next to the mini-indoor rainforest building.

    The indoor rainforest building is within the tiny confines of what seems to be an ancient, 100 year-old, creaking structure that has puddles on the floor and appears to leak water on unsuspecting zoo visitors. A green anaconda is shoved into a small exhibit, and alongside an emerald tree boa also has a dirty tank as its home. There is a white-faced saki monkey enclosure, a green aracari enclosure, a Jamaican fruit bat enclosure and a small aviary, but it appears that most of these other animals are free-roaming: cotton-top tamarins, golden lion tamarins, two-toed sloths, prehensile-tailed porcupines, yellow-rumped caciques, sunbitterns, blue-crowned motmots, South American red-footed tortoises, red-crested cardinals, silver-beaked tanagers and elegant crested tinamous. I can’t confirm that they were all free to explore wherever they wanted to, as the tortoises were definitely confined to their own area, but I did see many of the birds, a sloth and it was a treat to have tamarins run around directly over my head. The small building is almost too tiny to contain the number of species that it has, and everything inside has an amateurish, haphazard feel to it.


    Roger Williams Park Zoo is a small zoo that nevertheless is well worth a visit. One surprising thing is the almost complete lack of interactive children’s activities, as well as a notable playground. That is all changing in the future as the “Wetlands Trail” is currently only half open due to construction on a new Children’s Zoo (sponsored by Hasbro) that is opening in 2012. There is a new Veterinary Hospital under construction for 2011, and of course the future polar bear exhibit will finally bring that animal (the zoo’s logo) back to the collection. Occasionally it is really quite enjoyable to tour a limited zoo, spend just 2-3 hours admiring an intimate collection, and then move on down the road. I would rather visit a small zoo with solid exhibits over a larger zoo with countless pits, grottoes and metal cages any day of the week.
  3. deanmo19

    deanmo19 Well-Known Member

    18 Apr 2008
    PBG, Florida, USA
    Well, it should look like they should probably renovate exhibits for harbor seals, humboldt penguins, and maras and demolish, renovate, or expand the very old and tiny indoor rainforest building.
  4. BeardsleyZooFan

    BeardsleyZooFan Well-Known Member

    24 Jul 2011
    CT, United States
    snowleopard did an excellent job describing the zoo, and the areas that deanmo19 mentions should be renovated or demolished. However, I'd like to note some additional info and changes, by exhibit.
    Fabric of Africa- Red River Hogs should be in FOA by the end of summer, and it looks like they have a grassy average paddock with glass viewing.
    Marco Polo Trek- The new Asian animals are Sichuan Takin, the only ones of their kind in the Northeast. Their exhibit size is average, and they have nice varied terrain.
    Australasia- There are also reptile exhibits and a Northern Tree Shrew exhibit in Australasia building. There's also an outdoor enclosure for Radiated Tortoises.:confused:
    North America- The future Polar Bear exhibit has been canceled in this economic climate, and was estimated to cost $15 to $20 million.
    Tropical America- A Giant Anteater was born recently, and is quite the cutie! However, the baby and the mom like to stay indoors, so it's harder to see her, though an open door into the night quarters allows viewing. I'm not sure if the GLT's and the porcupine are free-ranging in the building, as I saw them through glass and can't remember if their exhibit was enclosed. There are also some invertebrates in there.
    Hasbro's Our Big Backyard- New children's section that I didn't go through. In 2014, New England animals such as lynx, turkeys, porcupines, otters, and more will go on exhibit. RI zoo exhibit connects kids to nature with play -
    Farmyard- I didn't go there on my visit, but I heard there's a new cow.
    The Future- Because of the canceled Polar Bear exhibit, the zoo is looking into new species. 2 have been already added (Takin and King Vultures), Red River Hogs should be there by the end of the summer, and more species include venemous snakes, vampire bats, Moose, monkeys, a walk-thru lorikeet aviary, and tigers, as the zoo seems to be lacking in cats.
    Overall, RWPZ is a nice zoo, and along with Southwick's, is probably the best zoo in New England.