The Rio Grande Zoo
(April 29, 2016)—I think the Rio Grande Zoo is one of the best zoos in the country. I might be biased because I was born and raised in New Mexico, and have watched the zoo grow and evolve—but I’m okay with that. What started as a seemingly modest zoo has become a giant success. Even back in 2005, before the zoo had really come into its own (in my opinion), unitedstatestouristattractions.com
listed our zoo as one of the best in the nation. What makes it great? The Rio Grande Zoo is 64 acres of pure wonder and fun, not just for children but for adults as well. There are over 200+ species housed in the incredible enclosures created and improved over the last 89 years. The zoo was founded in 1927 and has since continued to grow. It is set up grouping animals together either by species or part of the world from which they originated. My personal favorite is the cat walk. As a child I always loved getting up close with these majestic creatures, and even now as an adult, I could stand and look at these beautiful cats all day. Other than the animals which are of course the main attraction of the zoo, there are other attractions to give people a full day of fun. There are two railroads at the zoo. One of which gives a sort of “behind the scenes” tour of the zoo itself, and one that connects the zoo to its other parks (the aquarium and botanical gardens – all of which are considered the ABQ BioPark). In recent months, the zoo has gone through a number of upgrades around its facilities to keep up with the growing demand of refreshments and entertainment. The Rio Grande Zoo has housed a beautiful stage for as long as I can remember and they use it for a multitude of, a now growing list, of events. One such event is the Mother’s Day concert where an orchestra plays at least an hour of music. This event has brought my mom’s side of the family, and now my husband’s mom, together for many years. Other events like zoo music keep the zoo alive at night as well. A multitude of refreshments have always been offered during these events, but they also serve alcoholic beverages to those who want to imbibe (and are 21+ of course). The most recent addition to the zoo is probably one of my favorites, because I enjoy it through the eyes of my son. It is the “T. Kevin McNicholas Endangered Species Carousel,” and it is gorgeous.
Each of the carousel animals represent endangered species from around the world. Our current favorite is the crocodile, but I’m sure it will change each time we go. Each ride is $2 (or priceless in my opinion because my son smiles and laughs the entire time we’re on it), and lasts just over a minute. They play music and my son waves to everyone, including his own reflection in the gorgeous mirrors on the carousel. They also added a play area adjacent to the carousel so kids can play for free too! Plus, you can now buy tickets to get a behind the scenes tour of the zoo. We haven’t done this yet, but it’s on my zoo bucket list (yes I have one and I’ve done most of the things on it)! Everything about our zoo is wonderful, and to me even magical because I’ve watched it “grow up” as I’ve grown up. It’s changed but it’s still the place that some of my favorite childhood memories with my family were made. I love the fact that I can continue tradition, and share those same memories of this great place with my son. I will always support the Rio Grande Zoo, not only because I think it is one of the best and makes my son happy, but because it’s a wonderful educational tool for anyone and everyone. Let’s keep our zoo great by showing all the support we can manage, because in turn we help to make it even better! I think we can all agree that it’s one of the best things to do in Albuquerque!