Any zookeeper will tell you to arrive early to see some of the most active animals at Como Zoo. They were not kidding. I recently took a Roseville Visitors Association and found how much of a treat it is. The Zoo Tour we took provided us with a great opportunity to see the animals getting their morning breakfast and even take part in some of the fun too.
* The Roseville Visitors Association hosted me this weekend, which included providing me with a Como Zoo tour. As always, my thoughts are entirely my own.
HISTORY OF COMO ZOO
The Como Zoo is a free zoo located in St.Paul MN. In 1897 the city was gifted three deer and they needed a place to hold them. It wasn’t long before they started acquiring other animals and soon the zoo was born. Before you knew it they were taking their big cats through the streets for people to get a closer look. Can you imagine if they tried that today! This practice has since changed and the zoo has grown to house over 153 of different animal species. They occupy 11.5 acres of land. Their animals range from Tortoises to Polar Bears. And this zoo even has the Trifecta: Lions and Tigers and Bears! It’s always a mission of mine at every zoo I visit to see it.
Photo Courtesy of Como Zoo and Conservatory
The zookeepers believe that in order to have happy and healthy animals, it’s not enough to just feed them every day and have regular checkups. They need to behave as if they would in the wild. They call this Animal Enrichment. Instead of just handing them a plate of food, they might put it in a Fux animal to give them the feeling of hunting. They are always looking for fun ways to make them feel like they are in the wild.
While I was on my Zoo Tour, I got to participate in one of these activities. My tour got to prepare treats for the polar bears. I know what you are thinking, fish! Wrong. We made three different types of enrichment. The first was stuffing a PVC pipe with fruits and veggies. Then on the outside, we took fruit by the foot and stuck it to the pole. It seems that Polar Bears like Fruit by the Foot too! We also covered a Frisbee with peanut butter and topped it with Marshmallows. The last thing was we made tie blankets from tarps and filling it with dog bones and Marshmallows. When it came time to visit the polar bears, the treats were waiting for them in the enclosure.
The tour gave us the opportunity to feed the Giraffes too. During the day, the public has the opportunity to feed the Giraffes for $5. But if you take the Zoo Tour, you get to see where they sleep. The zookeeper met us up at the front of the enclosure and took us behind the scenes. As soon as we got back there, the giraffe heads started to pop up to see who was coming to visit. We fed Skeeter. He knew what time it was and was eagerly awaiting his breakfast.
In addition to the zoo, they also have a Marjorie McNeely Conservatory and Japanese Garden. These gardens are amazing. The Sunken Gardens inside are one of the biggest draws. People rent it out year round for different events, including tying the knot.
Como Zoo also has an amusement park right next door called Como Town. They operate during the warmer months. You can purchase an Unlimited Ride wristband ranging from $21.95 – $10.95. You can also purchase points and pay per ride.
Arrive early. Animals are more active the earlier you go. You’ll also beat a few of the crows as this is a very popular destination for field trips, summer programs, and daycares.
Parking can be challenging. The zoo has a few lots of their own but depending on when you arrive you may be walking a while. If you come a few hours after opening, skip the parking and take their free shuttle. Check out their map for more details.
Take a Zoo Tour or any of the others they offer. The zookeepers will tell you all kinds of history and stories about the animals they take care of every day. You also might get the opportunity to take part in some of the enrichment opportunities.
Don’t forget the sunblock. There isn’t a lot of shady spots.
Give a donation when you leave. The zoo is run by donations so any bit can help.
If you love zoo’s, you should also check out my review of the Minnesota Zoo.