The Virginia Zoo in Norfolk is a nice little zoo that is slowly improving. Recent exhibit openings, like Africa and Trail of the Tiger are top notch! The other side of the zoo has outdated exhibits and unused land. But if these recent exhibits foreshadow what the zoo is capable of, I look forward to seeing their new ideas.
Trail of the Tiger: I rank this as one of the best Asian exhibits in a U.S. Zoo. The exhibits are average to breathtaking, there are many animals, and they continue to add new residents. The gibbons have a beautiful island and the orangutans are introduced to a lush outdoor exhibit for the first time in their lives. The shy sunbears like to hide, but you can see them foraging in the decaying logs placed in their exhibit (or underneath the boardwalk). The aviary has many beautiful birds to see, including the Victoria Crowned pigeon. The red pandas have a wonderful exhibit with different levels to explore. Look up at the branch the is above the boardwalk. You may see a red panda sleeping there! Demosielle cranes and rhino hornbills have exhibits around this area. The binturongs made room for the sun bears and their new exhibit is still getting completed. The tapirs have a long yard with a shady area to sleep, a pool that comes right up to the boardwalk, and grassy field for them to trollop in. The Asiatic black bears are across the way with a lush exhibit with a climbing structure in the middle. The gibbons share an exhibit with Asian small claw otters. You'll often see the gibbon harassing the otters. The Malayan tigers have a beautiful exhibit with underwater viewing!
Africa: First exhibits include yards for red river hogs, mandrills, bongos, and African crowned cranes. On the other side is a mixed savanna of zebras, white rhinos, ostriches, and giraffes in the background. Visitors are allowed to go on the top level of the holding barn that have elephants below on one side, giraffes (head at your level) on the other side. The elephants do not have a wonderful exhibit, but it is decent for its two inhabitants. The lions have a beautiful yard you can walk around and eventually you come out on top where you can look down into the exhibit. Small exhibits feature meerkats, rock hyraxes, and a small variety of birds and reptiles. The area ends with a yard featuring large tortoises.
Australia: Very small exhibit that is surrounded by a chain linked fence. Animals you may be able to see are cassowary, emu, and kangaroos. Next are the many gardens of the zoo and an old cage visitors are allowed to enter.
North America: Down the path you can see bald eagles, bisons, and a prairie dogs. There is also an outdated building featuring noctural mammals and reptiles/amphibians. This is an area that could be spruced up and some exciting new animals could be added. The children's farm is under construction and should open back up in the next couple of years.
If you're looking for a small zoo to spend a couple of hours with some stellar exhibits, be sure to visit this one!
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