Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Columbus’

Polar Frontier at Columbus Zoo – A Cool Place to Visit

Polar Frontier Entrance

Polar Frontier Entrance

Perhaps the “coolest” spot at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium occurs in North America’s Polar Frontier. On a recent visit to the zoo, howling winds and cold temperatures seemed the perfect time to check out the Polar Bears. They certainly weren’t bothered by the cold.

Set in what appears to be an abandoned mine camp in the Arctic Circle, Polar Frontier is home to four Arctic foxes, two brown bears, and two polar bears. Snow, ice and cold help create the atmosphere for their favorite time of the year. A sign near the entrance states:

An Arctic without ice would be like a garden without soil.

Polar Bear statues

Statues of Mother Polar Bear and two cubs

Polar bear statues of mother and two cubs welcome visitors to the Polar Frontier. Since North High School in Columbus, Ohio had as their mascot a Polar Bear, their alumni organizations funded the statues. Local artist, Mathew Palmer, created these delightful bronze figures covered with a white patina. Statues of animals frequently appear throughout the zoo and are perfect places for a close up picture with the animals.

Two brown bears sleep inside their glass cave.

Two brown bears sleep inside their glass cave.

Two Alaskan brown bears, brother Brutus and Buckeye – from Ohio of course, sleep soundly as they huddle against a heavy glass wall. They appear to believe in hibernation even at the zoo. Usually, they can be found swimming in their own small pool or having a bear wrestling match.

Polar bears play in the snow.

Polar bears play in the snow.

Polar bears, Aurora and Anana, have a playful time in the new fallen snow. Both rolled around on their backs taking a snow bath or perhaps just relaxing . Today they seemed happy to play in the snow and didn’t venture into either of their two pools for a dip

Salt water tunnel where  polar bears often swim overhead.

Salt water tunnel where polar bears often swim overhead.

The polar bears have a 167,000 gallon pool of salt water in which to swim and catch lunch. You can observe the bears diving in for a swim from eye-level, or underneath through a 5″ thick acrylic tunnel. There is an ample supply of fresh trout available when the polar bears decide they might like a snack. Two underground geothermal tanks keep the water in their pools at the perfect temperature for polar bears to enjoy.

Compare the size of various bears.

Compare the size of various bears.

Inside the Battelle Ice Bear Outpost, you can find videos regarding the life of the bears. This interpretive center provides many activities that focus on polar bears and climate changes. It shares ways to practice conservation at home to save the polar bears. They have pictures to compare the sizes of various bears and even an animated Polar Bear Band at Ice Bear Mining Camp.

Bear Band

Bear Band at Ice Bear Mining Camp

A fantastic playground for the youngsters is right outside the Polar Bear Exhibit where children can build an igloo, ride an ice teeter-totter, or slide down a snow bank. Parents can grab a snack at the Polar Grille and chill out while the children have a cool time.

This corner of the zoo is one of the favorite stops for most visitors. A winter visit also has the benefit of being able to see the animals more easily as the zoo isn’t crowded. Make sure you save time for the Polar Frontier…any time of the year!

To visit Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, take I-270 around Columbus, Ohio and use Exit 20. From there you will see signs directing you to the zoo. You’re sure to have a great day!

Advertisements

Chillin’ Out at the Columbus Zoo

Zoo Entrance with just snow flurries upon arrival.

Zoo Entrance with just snow flurries upon arrival. That soon changed.

Have cabin fever? Put on your warmest clothes and visit the Columbus Zoo for an entertaining, learning experience. Upon arrival,  a few snow flakes bounced through the air, but before long the zoo was blanketed in a cover of white.

Even on a crisp, cold winter day, the zoo had many visitors, although just a small portion when compared to a summer visit. Many animals were inside display areas or tucked away in barns just waiting for the summer season to arive, but there was still much to enjoy.

Snow covered Asian Quest very soon.

Snow quickly covered Asia Quest.

While the present Columbus Zoo opened in 1937, Jack Hanna, graduate of Muskingum College, developed the zoo into one of the best zoos in the United States. Hanna served as director from 1978-93 and still serves as director emeritus. Today over 9,000 animals live there.

This young elephant was inside bars during petting and feeding.

This young elephant was inside bars during petting and feeding.

Columbus Zoo & Aquarium provides something for everyone through five main areas: North America, Asia Quest, Australia & Islands, Congo, and Heart of Africa, the newest exhibit, which was closed on this visit. Still numerous displays make a visit worthwhile and memorable during the winter months, without the usual stops at the many gift shops and snack stands along the way.

While it’s impossible to mention all the adventures this winter day, here are a few gypsy highlights.

Hank, the largest elephant in a North American zoo weighed in at 15,600 pounds and measured 9’5″ tall. That’s one big elephant! People had the opportunity to pet and feed one of the smaller elephants, who kept looking for more treats.

Two Siberian Tigers lounge on top of their cave.

Two Siberian Tigers lounge on top of their cave.

Outside on Tiger Walk, several Siberian Tigers lounged in the snow, while one snuggled up in a corner of a stone cave. They watched movements carefully, probably ready to pounce at the slightest provocation.

Discovery Reef's Aquarium provides a break in the day.

Discovery Reef’s Aquarium provides a warm break in the day where you can sit and watch the fish among the coral reefs.

On a winter day, you might want a break from the cold, and a chance to rest your legs. Several possibilities exist. The giganitic Aquarium at Discovery Reef provides bleacher seats to watch the antics of the fish in a 100,000 gallon salt water aquarium. When you observe all the different species of fish from around the world swimming peacefully together, it seems there might be a lesson for those watching.

Close by, manatees also entertain as they pull lettuce and cabbage as a tasty treat from the surface of the water. Or perhaps you might want to slither over to the Reptile Building to see the snakes, lizards, and even turtles.

Two polar bears roll in the snow.

Two polar bears roll in the snow.

Visit North American’s Polar Frontier, which opened in 2010, to watch polar bears enjoy the new fallen snow. They like to be clean and dry as dirty fur provides little insulation, so they take a bath by rolling in the snow. Imagine the polar bears thought the weather perfect.

The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Of one thing you can be certain, every day’s a different experience while at the zoo. You never know what the animals will do next. Go to the zoo any season of the year!

To visit Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, take I-270 around Columbus, Ohio and use Exit 20. From there you will see signs directing you to the zoo. You’re sure to have a great day!

The Magic World of Orchids

Step back into the Victorian era when orchids were a symbol of luxury, and walk leisurely through the Orchid Forest at the Franklin County Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus, Ohio.  These beautiful orchids, entitled Orchids! Vibrant Victoriana, are displayed in the Dorothy M Davis  Show House, which was built in 1895.  The exotic orchid speaks of refinement and innocence and the elegant Victorian garden is filled with hundreds of incredible orchids in all sizes, shapes and scents.

Paul Busse’s Garden Railroad featuring children’s fairy tales is a popular place to stop and take a break.  In this magical world amongst the foliage in the Himalayan Mountain Biome, three dimensional structures are all made from natural materials.  You might see roof shingles made from fungus, a chimney cap from an acorn, or a door hinge from a tiny leaf.  Moss, twigs, leaves and seeds combine to form houses, bridges, and castles. Children will definitely enjoy the fairy tale settings, while adults will marvel at the construction of the scenery.

In an outdoor garden area, discovered the Hot Shop where a young man, who had been blowing glass for two and a half years, showed the curious visitors how to create a vase. From gathering the hot, hot glass to dipping it in either powdered colored glass or pellets, the glassmaking process produced many questions from those watching. Especially found fascinating the use of thick layers of wet newspaper being used to shape the glass, as seen in the picture above. The young man told the attentive audience, “We are still finding out new things about glass every day.  It is an ongoing learning experience.” His finished vase, which started out with a red glow, turned out to be a beautiful violet shade.

An added attraction was the beautiful blown glass art work by Debora Moore, Collectanea Botanica – Orchidaceae, showing her interpretations of orchids in blown glass sculptures. The Blue Orchid Tree, a beautiful Moore creation, is featured just inside the Cardinal Health Gallery. Debora feels that her work is a figment of her imagination combining the real qualities of the orchid with what she sees in her mind. This glass artist was a student and later an instructor at the Pitchuck Glass School, which was founded by Dale Chihuly whose work is also featured throughout the conservatory on a permanent basis.

My favorite artistic display was the large Pink Glass Orchid. Nature has always been Debora’s inspiration as she uses the medium of glass to express the grandeur and fragility of the natural world. She constantly learns and combines new methods with traditional glassblowing techniques to create her masterpieces.

Today, orchids are the top house plant with 25,000 varieties available. Symbolizing rare and delicate beauty, the orchid is an alluring and captivating plant to enjoy in your home. Franklin Conservatory is one of those places you can visit again and again, as they have featured shows throughout the year as well as an outdoor garden that blooms seasonally.

Walt Whitman wrote,”Give me a garden of flowers where I can walk undisturbed.” This is one of those special places that answers that request.

Franklin Park Conservatory can easily be reached off I-70 as it passes through Columbus, Ohio. Exit on 315 North and quickly you will make another exit onto Route 40 where you will turn right.  You are almost there as just a few blocks through the city, you will find Franklin Park on the right hand side.

Tag Cloud