Down under in Ohio
Columbus Zoo has an extensive collection of North American animals, reptiles and cheetahs, among others. Best known for its work with gorillas, Columbus hosted the first zoo gorilla birth in 1956, and later the first gorilla twins born in captivity.
Another of its prized exhibits is a large slice of coral reef inside an observation tank. Visitors sometimes sit for hours watching fish swim through the brilliant colors of the fragile habitat.
The zoo also features trolley, wagon, riverboat and train rides (available seasonally). And like many zoos, plant life abounds on the grounds. Columbus' botanical gardens may not be as well known as the animal park, but they are extensive.
A new exhibit for the summer: the "Kangaroo Walk-about," featuring a walk through the habitat of 12 female 'roos -- without barriers.
And coming next spring: manatees, a rarity outside coastal areas.
9990 Riverside Dr., Powell, Ohio; (614) 645-3400
Web site: http://www.colszoo.org/
FAST FACT: "Jungle Jack" Hanna -- host of TV's "Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures" and author of several animal books -- turned the Columbus Zoo into a world-class operation during his tenure as director beginning in the late 1970s. Hanna is now "director emeritus" of the zoo.
Photos courtesy the Columbus Zoo