I woke up late this morning, an hour after I had intended to leave. Such is life,
but it also put me that far behind schedule.
I arrived at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore at
11:28am, and quickly made my way to the tram. I stopped briefly to see what the
prairie dogs were barking at, but I also had a schedule to keep.
There were probably three other families on the tram
with me as we made our way towards the main part of the zoo. I disembarked from
the car and headed through Polar Bear Gate to see an animal demonstration
already in progress. It was a crown crane, but despite its constant movement, I
managed to get one decent shot of it on my camera.
The show ended around 11:45, but I decided to skip
lunch until after I finished my assignment. Besides, I’d have to pass through
their concession area on my way out anyway (exit through the food court). Though
if I was thinking clearly, I might have ducked through the hidden “Conservation
Gate” (behind the guest services tent) and bypassed the marsh area altogether.
I was on my way to see the new exhibit on the
Eastern Hellbender (a species of giant salamander) which as housed in a
simulated stream in what used to be the underwater viewing area of the otter
I remember the bubble being small (and dirty), but
the black light, dark light-blocking curtains (hellbenders are nocturnal) and
large jutting signage make it feel claustrophobically small – especially if
there was more than one person in the viewing area.
True to form, I was essentially forced out of the
viewing area by the next round of visitors (though the thick black curtains
nearly scared off one of the younger guests). I took the bypass around the
Cave, and snaked along the path back towards the concession area.
It was just after noon when I passed through the
barn door into the concession area, but, surprisingly enough, it was all but
deserted. Even more surprising was the fact that they had my order ready before
I put my change away.
There was no line at the train either, so I bought a
single ticket and had what amounted to a private ride (even if the operator’s
microphone wasn’t working).
I had my food, my notes and a bonus train ride, so I
made my way across the field to the tram stop. The return trip was somewhat
more crowded with about 7 families, and one volunteer they dropped off at the
Oddly enough, as I disembarked from the tram, I
heard some zoo employees in the courtyard say they were amazed at how “crowded”
the zoo was that day.