Winter is a great time to bundle up the kids and visit the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore — prices are lower and many animals are active at this time of year.
The Maryland Zoo is open Friday to Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and has a special admission price of $10 per person during the months of January and February. This saves $8 for adults and $3 for kids off the regular admission.
“A winter zoo visit is a vastly different experience than it is any other time of year,” said Don Hutchinson, president/CEO of The Maryland Zoo. “Of course, it’s that difference that makes the zoo a special place during the colder months.”
Each day, the zoo keeper staff assess weather conditions such as temperature, wind, and ground slickness to decide whether particular animals will be safe and healthy outdoors.
“Some animals, such as tortoises and a variety of African birds, are currently in their winter barns and will remain off exhibit until springtime,” said Mike McClure, general curator. “Many of the animals such as the leopard and penguins go in and out all winter long. And, as you can imagine, the otters and polar bears love our Maryland winters.”
Take a Penguin Encounter and meet new chicks
Visitors might catch a glimpse of the new penguin chicks, Dawn and Hope, who were the first chicks to hatch at the zoo’s new Penguin Coast exhibit in October. They are being hand raised by staff to be part of the Animal Embassy outreach program that travels to schools, camps, libraries and more.
Visitors can see them and other penguin ambassadors during Penguin Encounter tours at the zoo this winter. The paid encounters are offered daily at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and are 20-30 minute private tours with an embassy keeper and include special photo opportunities and up-close penguin interaction. Cost is $35 for members and $45 for non-members. Tickets can be purchased at the Main Gate, Giraffe Feeding Station or the Train Station. Encounters are limited to eight people per tour and tours are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Other new animals at the zoo
Also new at the zoo this winter are Sofiya, an Amur leopard, and Jane, a 30-yeaar-old chimpanzee. Amur leopards are one of the rarest cat species in the world, and Sofiya came to the Maryland Zoo from St. Louis Zoological Park . The cold temperatures are perfect weather for Amur leopards — originally from the mountains of northeastern China. Jane, meanwhile, was moved to the zoo from the Rolling Hills Zoo in Salina, Kansas on a breeding recommendation from the Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan. The zoo now has a troop of 11 chimpanzees.
Visit the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore’s website for up-to-date information on the Zoo in the winter, as well as possible weather-related closings.