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Volume XVII, Issue 11 - March 12 - March 18, 2009
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Where the Wild Things Are

Maryland Zoo aroar with new arrivals

by Diana Beechener

Starting March 14, you can spend any day where the wild things roam.

Opening its gates in the blustery month of March, the Maryland Zoo invites you to come in for a lion and go out with a sitatunga.

Male African lion Hassan roars in as the highest profile addition to the zoo’s new year — its 133rd — of close encounters and exotic sights.

Hassan’s Mohawk isn’t a sign of the times: The teen male is still growing his full mane. You’ll learn more about leonine awkward years from the predator keeper, who’ll spend opening day introducing the newest member of the zoo’s pride.

Hassan isn’t the only animal ambassador strutting his stuff at the season opening. Experts translate for their animal ambassadors at major habitats throughout the zoo, speaking on their favorite lions, tigers and bears — oh my.

Keepers also corral your questions at the polar bear enclosure, the chimp forest, the African watering hole and the giraffe house, speaking on species, habitat and conservation efforts.

Spring’s arrival also brings a new generation of wild and wooly babies.

Hassan, the Baltimore Zoo’s newest African lion, has yet
to grow his full mane.

The zoo’s three-month-old sitatunga — or swamp antelope — Jelani has moved into its African watering hole.

From feathered flyers to flippered divers, a flock of new birds has been hatched at the Maryland Zoo. Two aviaries allow the birds to swoop to your level. Feathered friends include newly added turkey vultures in the Marsh Aviary and hamerkop chicks — a species of stork — in the African Aviary. Nineteen baby penguins, born last year, shed their fluffy feathers for waterproof coats as they dive into their watery habitat.

Human cubs find close encounters of the barnyard kind at the Kids Zone, where sheep, goats and ducks greet little visitors at a petting zoo. The first 500 little ones through the gates get a free box of animal crackers to feed their inner beast. Curious children crack open the mystery of the chicken or the egg at the zoo’s hatchery.

Later this month, on March 19, the zoo’s biggest baby, African elephant Samson, celebrates his first birthday. The party’s March 21 at the Elephant Overlook. The birthday boy will stuff his trunk with cake, but the pre-tusk tyke is willing to share: Charm City Cakes provides festive cupcakes for all human party animals.

Playing the lamb to Hassan’s lion is Jelani, the three-month-old sitatunga — or swamp antelope — which has moved into its African watering hole habitat. But the 11-pound calf, whose name means mighty, will be rooming in the zoo’s sitatunga savannah habitat — not with Hasaan and the other predators.

While March goes out like a lamb, the Maryland Zoo will continue to roar with months of adventures.

In May, explorers make appointments to feed giraffes and ride camels in the Kids Zone.

Popping up come summer is a new city of prairie dogs. The prairie dogs have benefited from Baltimore’s urban renewal projects and now live in a resurfaced habitat near the Schaefer Plaza. A flock of prairie chickens — a new species for the zoo — also swoops into the habitat.

The Maryland Zoo, Baltimore: 10am-4pm beginning March 14; $7 opening day; $11 general admission: 410-396-7102

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