By Mariah Kline
Photos by Andrea Hutchinson
Around 1,200 different species call the Louisville Zoo home and are visited by more than 860,000 guests each year. This summer, the zoo has some exciting new additions and sights that visitors of all ages will appreciate.
Currently taking place at the zoo is the incredible Butterflies n’ Blooms exhibit, which is done in partnership with Idlewild Butterfly Farm and presented by Ford Motor Company. The 1,000-square-foot flight house allows guests to walk amongst stunning flowers and hundreds of delicate butterflies. Most of the botanical items in the house attract pollinators and butterflies, and information about each of the plants is available so guests will know what to plant in their own backyards. The different species in flight vary from week to week, and the display will remain open until Sept. 3.
To celebrate World Giraffe Day on June 21, guests can take part in one of the daily feedings at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. and take part in one of several talks with the zookeepers throughout the day. The zoo is currently home to three gorgeous giraffes – 1-year-old Kianga, 2-year-old Baridi and 21-year-old Malaika. Kianga just recently joined the herd from Los Angeles and is the smallest of the group.
Also new is a 7-month-old Komodo dragon named Romulus who has taken the place of Little Man, the zoo’s dragon who died of old age last year. While the species is quite intimidating when fully grown, the young Romulus is surprisingly cute and will not reach his full size for 10 years. Currently acclimating behind-the-scenes at the zoo is a male rhinoceros named Letterman and a male lion named Siyanda, both of whom will be on exhibit in the near future.
“We always let the animals tell us when they’re ready,” explains Kyle Shepherd, Louisville Zoo’s media relations manager. “Every new animal that comes to us has a standard, 30-day quarantine period they have to go through. Then when they start to exhibit certain behaviors, we know they’re ready for the next step.”
In between exhibits, guests have the opportunity to see sculptures from Nature Connects, a collection of 13 larger-than-life animals made entirely of Lego bricks. Each piece depicts a species that is threatened or endangered in some way and include the disappearing rhino, the already-extinct dodo bird, a polar bear with her cubs and many other impressive works. More than 770,000 Legos were used to create the 13 sculptures, which will also remain on display until Sept. 3.
In the coming months, visitors can look forward to the completion of the new snow leopard exhibit as well as the colobus monkey exhibit. They’ve also expanded the outpost desk, which will allow for more dining options.
While viewing some of the world’s most interesting and exotic creatures, visitors of the zoo are also contributing to organizations that help the wellbeing and survival of the world’s animals.
“Every time you come to a modern zoo, a portion of your ticket price goes to conservation,” explains Shepherd. “We also put (out) information on how we can make a difference. For instance, in the Islands (a specific section in the zoo), the palm oil crisis is represented. In Glacier Run, climate change is represented with how the permafrost is changing and the ice is melting.
“These are award-winning exhibits because they are rotational,” she continues. “As we build new exhibits, we really hone in on the conservation of that animal in the wild because they are animal ambassadors for their wild counterparts.” VT
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