ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Looking for fun and interesting things to do during the Memorial Day weekend and throughout the lazy days of summer?
The ABQ BioPark Zoo has a number of activities and events that can definitely fill the hours. Among the choices:
• Visitors can take a spin on the colorful, hand-painted Endangered Species Carousel, featuring 30 species that are struggling to survive. Among them are the Western lowland gorilla, white rhino, Mexican gray wolf, the Asian elephant, and a one-of-a-kind Tasmanian devil that was specially created for the ABQ BioPark Zoo carousel.
The carousel operates from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily and rides cost $2.
• If the Rio Grande is flowing too high and too fast for comfort at the moment, zoo visitors can take a more leisurely float around the zoo’s pond aboard pedal boats. The watercraft can seat up to four people and the price for a 15-minute ride is $8.
There are, however, some restrictions: Riders must be able to get on and off without assistance; children must be 3 years old to have their own seat; the minimum age to rent a boat is 18; no food is allowed on the boats, but water bottles are; and life jackets will be provided, and must be worn.
The boats operate from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with the last boat rental 30 minutes before closing time.
• There are exceptions to the generally accepted rule “do not feed the animals.” After having lunch or a snack at the Matunda or Cottonwood cafes, zoo visitors may want to take a moment to feed the giraffes and lorikeets.
From noon to 1:30 p.m., people can offer dry feed to giraffes, which they will gladly accept with their 18-inch-long tongues.
From 10-11:30 a.m. and from 2-3 p.m., the lorikeets, Australian parrots, will drink nectar from small cups offered to them.
The price for feeding each animal is $2; the proceeds benefit the New Mexico BioPark Society.
• While it may be less personal, there are other animals at the zoo that are fed by keepers – animals from which visitors should probably maintain a healthy distance – but that are interesting to watch devour their food, nevertheless. Among them are hippos, fed daily at 2 p.m., and crocodiles fed on Wednesdays at 3:45 p.m.
• The Animal Encounters Show takes place in the zoo’s Nature Theater, where education staff and volunteers teach visitors about mammals, birds and reptiles from around the globe, and may even have some on hand to fly, crawl and climb across the stage.
The shows, free with admission to the zoo, are held each Wednesday through Sunday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The focus is on the natural habitats of animals, their natural behaviors, and what people can do to preserve those habitats and the animals that live within them.
• The youngest of zoo visitors, those age 6 and under, can gather in the Africa amphitheater each Thursday at 10:30 a.m. for Story Time at the Zoo. Volunteers will read stories, display props and provide fun educational facts about animals that live in diverse places around the world. Each week, a different animal will be highlighted. Story Time is free with admission to the zoo.
• Finally, don’t forget that the zoo offers one of the more pleasurable settings for listening to live musical performances.
The Summer Nights concert series, highlighting local and regional talent, unfolds each Thursday, June 13 through July 25, from 7-9 p.m.
The Zoo Music series showcases regional, national and international talent in a variety of genres, including country, Latin rock, Afro-Cuban, Celtic, bluegrass, Cajun and pop-rock. It is held each Friday, June 14 through July 19, from 7-9 p.m.
For a complete list of concerts and ticket prices, click here.