Thanks to Zoo New England, little patches of wilderness from Africa, South America, Australia, and other parts of the world now dot Massachusetts. The non-profit organization operates both Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo, each full of exotic creatures and their habitats. These microcosms represent an ideal world, one where endangered species thrive and fragile ecosystems last for generations to come.
At Franklin Park Zoo, tigers display their exotic stripes in the Tiger Tales exhibit where guests are educated on the perils these animals face in their natural habitats. Elsewhere, thousands of plants as well as mandrills, ocelots, and a pygmy hippopotamus turn the zoo into a tropical rainforest.
Stone Zoo, meanwhile, places simulations of the world's highlands next to Spot Pond. One area focuses on the Sierra Madre mountain range, which spans Mexico and the Southwestern U.S. The elevated habitat counts jaguars, coyotes, Gila monsters, and cougars among its denizens.
A portion of every admission goes to the organization's conservation efforts, which supports projects both locally and globally. For would-be zookeepers, Zoo New England hosts various adult and kids' educational programs, and lets volunteers help in the care of zoo plants and animals.
Five Things to Know About Franklin Park Zoo
Franklin Park Zoo covers 72 acres and goes back more than a century, to 1912. More than 100 species of animals may be found among the 12 exhibits with names such as Tiger Tales and Tropical Forest. Before you bring the family for a day of animal fun, here are a few helpful hints and facts:
There’s plenty for kids to see and do. The children’s area features the cute red panda, the stately African spurred tortoise, and the industrious black-tailed prairie dog. There’s also a petting zoo at Franklin Farm replete with goats and sheep, as well as a 10,000 sq. ft. zoo-themed playground.
The zoo takes conservation very seriously. In addition to inspiring its guests to take an active role in saving animal populations, Franklin Park Zoo also participates in more than 80 species-survival plans that help endangered species survive and rebuild in captivity.
The animals have plenty to do. Zoos are far removed from the times when animals sat around in cages all day with nothing to do but sleep or despondently watch TV game shows covered in mustard and beer stains. Instead, zookeepers encourage the magnificent creatures to develop skills they would actually use in the wild, placing food in tricky-to-reach areas, and offering items such as “boomer balls,” tire swings, and egg cartons to help them stay occupied.
Some activities are available for an extra fee. Camel rides, spins on the carousel, and rhino-rescue film showings are among the extras available when the weather is warmer.
There’s an annual beer fest. Each year, the Brew at the Zoo raises money for Franklin Park Zoo and its sister zoo, Stone Zoo. It features frosty quaffs from a lineup of breweries that have included Coronado, Long Trail, and Samuel Adams. Other events include the Halloween-themed Boo at the Zoo and a party for the zoo’s gibbons.
In Focus: Stone Zoo
Year established: 1905
Formerly known as the Middlesex Fells Zoo
Renamed in honor of former director Walter Stone in 1969
Owner and operator: Zoo New England, a nonprofit organization
Size: 26 acres
Exhibits: 8, including Barnyard, Windows to the Wild, and Treasures of the Sierra Madre
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