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The Minnesota Zoo: A Great Place to Visit No Matter What Time of the Year
The Minnesota Zoo is a wonderful destination for families and people who enjoy beautiful animals and the outdoors. They have extensive trails throughout where people can see Brown Bears from the Russian Coast, Amur Tigers and Takin from Asia, Otters, Gazelles, Moose, and more! Knowing Minnesota, though, sometimes the weather can be a bit harsh to enjoy all the outdoor options the zoo has to offer. However, the Minnesota Zoo has spectacular indoor options available for year-round fun! Our February day took us through the Tropics Trail, Medtronic Minnesota Trail, and Discovery Bay.
The Tropics Trail feels like you are venturing into a rain forest with lush, green foliage and beautiful orchids. Just some of the many wonderful, exotic animals we witnessed while walking this winding trail included:
Red Panda: These acrobatic tree-dwellers live in the remote areas of the Himalayan mountains. They can be found in cool bamboo forests reaching elevations of 7,200 – 15,750 feet.
Ring-tailed Lemur: From Madagascar, the ring-tailed lemur is easily identified by their long, black and white ringed tails. Unlike other lemurs, the ring-tails spend almost half their time on the ground where they play, forage, and sun themselves.
West African Dwarf Crocodile: The dwarf crocodile is an inhabitant of western Africa, where it lives in shallow streams and swamps of the tropical rain forests of the region.
Gibbon: From the tropical forests of Asia, white-cheeked Gibbons are one of eleven species of gibbon. Because of their long-arms, and the ability to use their hands as hooks instead of grasping, these apes are made for life in the trees.
Asian Small Clawed Otter: The smallest of the otter species, who are inhabitants of the Asian Pacific Islands, small-clawed otters have unique feet. Their short claws are only partially webbed which gives them a greater sensitivity to touch and increased coordination.
Komodo Monitor: From Asia, the Komodo monitor (Komodo Dragon) is the largest lizard in the world. This unusual size can be attributed from a slow metabolism and not having to compete with other carnivores.
Minnesota has numerous landscapes throughout its borders including prairies, wooded areas, numerous waterways and rolling hills. The Medtronic Minnesota Trail does a terrific job of showing these numerous landscapes the animals who live within.
American Black Bear: Concentrated more in northern counties of Minnesota, the American black bear is an omnivore who enjoys a diet of plants, fruits, nuts, insects, fish, and mammals.
Canada Lynx: The Canada Lynx is built for living in the snow with large furry feet, long legs and extra thick fur. The lynx mostly hunts snowshoe hares, but will also eat other small mammals and birds.
Coyote: You can find the coyote most anywhere in Minnesota including woods, wetlands, prairies, and even large cities. Coyotes mostly eat rabbits, rodents, insects, and other small prey.
Gray Wolf: An inhabitant of Asia, Europe and North America, the gray wolf has become a symbol of Minnesota pride in the wild lands. A wolf living in Minnesota may have a diet of deer, moose, beavers, and small mammals.
Turtles: In the trailhead lodge portion of the Minnesota Trail, check out smallest of Minnesota favorites.
Other Indoor Exhibits
The Minnesota Zoo also offers other terrific indoor exhibits such as Discovery Bay and African Penguins. At Discover Bay, you can witness spectacular sharks, rays, and other marine life. Young guests also have the opportunity to touch sharks, sea stars, and sea anemones.
Springtime in Minnesota means the annual Farm Babies at the Minnesota Zoo. Come and see what farm life is like in Minnesota with cows, chickens, pigs, sheep, and more! Farm Babies runs March 25 – April 30.
The Minnesota Zoo is not the only place to witness animals up-close. See beautiful thoroughbreds during Canterbury Park’s live racing season, beginning Friday, May 20. Or, wander the many miles of trails along the Minnesota River in the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area and take in many species of birds, whitetail deer, beavers, and more!