Page 48 - 2020 Southern New Jersey Vacationer
P. 48

ZOOS & NATURE
Lions and tigers and bears and oh my!
 CAPE MAY COUNTY PARK & ZOO
Monkeys, Camels, Lions – and Unicorns?
Do unicorns really exist? We’re not sure, of course, but maybe a visit to the Cape May County Zoo could make us believers. You never know!
Here’s the scoop. Scimitar Horned Oryx, a rather odd name for a creature from North Africa, might well be the cause of the unicorn myth. Looking at these animals from certain angles they resemble a horse; and in some cases when they lose one of their horns, they looked like the fabled unicorn.
The zoo has a herd of five Oryx, four of whom were born right in the zoo – Trixie, Norton, Newman and Cosmo. They live in the African Savannah at the end of the Pathway to Diversity.
Need a couple more factoids for your next game of trivia? Giraffes do everything standing up. With a six-foot long neck and an 18-inch tongue, giraffes can weigh up to 2100 pounds – so they need big feet to carry that tonnage – about 12 inches in diameter, the size of a dinner plate. Joanie, a reticulated giraffe gave birth to the newest male baby – standing up of course – in November 2017. June is the matriarch of the group, already 25 years old.
Another of the Zoo’s four-legged residents is Walter – when you’re a two-hump Bactrian camel no last name is needed. He lives with
his one-hump cousin Marty, an Arabian Dromedary camel. Camels store up to 80 pounds of fat in those humps that can be converted to water and energy when food isn’t available. As the fat is depleted their humps become soft and flop over but that doesn’t happen to these guys.
It’s “monkey see, monkey do” at the primate habitat with agile monkeys swinging around, happy as can be. The zoo is home to four Black Howler Monkeys, an arboreal species with a prehensile tail that acts like a fifth arm that they use when moving through the rainforest canopy. Howler Monkeys get their name from the deep howl they can produce which can be heard up to three miles away. DeBrazza Monkeys are a medium-sized species from the forests and swamplands of Central
Africa. Territorial in nature, they live in small familial and social groupings in the wild.
Of course there are lions – and you can hear them roar from anywhere in the zoo. Lex, the big guy, and his sister Bella were born in 2011 and have lived at the zoo since 2014 with all their friends – snow leopards, monkeys, tamarins including a cotton topped tamarin named Casanova, and a wide population of birds, reptiles and amphibians.
Along with all these wonderful animals, the zoo is home to about 550 inhabitants representing about 250 species on 200 wooded acres and open space.
There are plenty of other things to see and do at the park and zoo in Middle Township just off exit 11 of the Garden State Parkway – two giant playgrounds with a Hummingbird Express train ride for the little ones, the wildlife carousel or the challenge of the 35- foot rock climbing wall.
Into fitness? The park’s outdoor fitness center has 12 different stations – chin-up bars, push-up and sit-up platforms plus low- to-the-ground balance beams. Shady bike paths also offer a great work out and expansion plans will connect locations in the park with direct routes to zoo in the future. And there’s golf – well it’s Frisbee golf, so instead of a club and a ball, players use a disc or a Frisbee and throw it from the tee area to a basket which is the “hole.” Across Route 9 from the zoo there are tennis and basketball courts plus baseball and softball fields.
More good news. Admission to the park and zoo is free. Parking? Free. Donations are accepted, encouraged and welcomed; some of the tours, picnic pavilions, etc. are fee-based. Both the park and zoo are open 364 days a year, weather permitting, and closed Christmas Day. 609-465-5271; www.cmczoo.com
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