Free Admission; Behind the Scenes Look on NatGeo Wild; 4 New Rhinos ~ Columbus Zoo

A few pieces of information from Columbus Zoo fans!

First up, in honor of Martin Luther King Day, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium will offer free admission  on Monday Jan. 15 from 10-4. You may think with winter in full force there isn’t much to do at one of the country’s best zoos. But during the colder months polar bears are the stars and now there’s cubs!

Asia Quest also has some cold loving animals like red pandas and tigers.

Indoor viewing areas also provide comfortable access to seeing your, so break out of the winter blues and visit the Columbus Zoo.

Second, NatGeo Wild has a new show called Zoo Life, and it focuses on the hard working people that work around the clock, even when the gates are closed!

Brushing rhinoceros teeth, training a lifesaving giraffe, and teaching a polar bear to swim is all in a day’s work at the Columbus Zoo. Zoo Life features the incredible bonds between caretakers and animals such as when a flamingo gives her caregiver a hug and does a happy dance when she sees her. There are surprising moments when viewers learn that the Zoo uses dogs as companion animals. There are emergencies when the staff drops everything to rescue 16 parrots, and there are extraordinary moments like when two manatees are returned to their native range after rehabilitation at the Zoo.

Zoo Life also focuses on the Columbus Zoo’s incredible conservation work, including an in-depth look at The Wilds, one of the largest conservation centers in North America at 10,000 acres, and home to rare and endangered animals from around the world. Among the many stories featured about The Wilds was the birth of two of the white rhinoceros calves in the fall—a continued success story for an endangered species that was brought back from the brink of extinction at the turn of the 20th century.

“More than 175 million Americans visit a zoo every year but nothing compares to the behind-the-scenes experience we deliver,” said Geoff Daniels, executive vice president and general manager, Nat Geo WILD. “Thanks to the Columbus Zoo and their incredible staff, our audience of animal lovers and their famillies will get an exclusive golden ticket to witness all the extraordinary work, heartwarming stories and inspiring moments most people never see at a place where the passion and commitment to wildlife has to be seen to be believed!”

More than anything, Zoo Life places the Columbus Zoo and the Central Ohio community into the national spotlight by showcasing a progressive zoo with a mission to lead and inspire by connecting people and wildlife. The Columbus Zoo team accomplishes this by providing memorable and meaningful on-site experiences, engaging educational programs and inspiring outreach activities, as well as constantly striving to make an even bigger global impact.

“We are proud to have some of the most talented, knowledgeable, dedicated, and passionate staff members in the world on our animal care team,” said Columbus Zoo and Aquarium President and CEO Tom Stalf. “The fact that the Columbus Zoo and The Wilds were selected for this show is a true testament to our team as well as our supportive Central Ohio community that has helped to make our Zoo one of the best in the nation. While sharing the true heart behind the care provided to the animals by our team of experts, we are excited that Zoo Life is also providing us with the opportunity to help us establish that emotional connection between a national audience and these animals so that we can further lead in inspiring people to take action to help protect wildlife and wild places.”

Finally, a 4th calf was born into the White Rhino herd at The Wilds.  This marks a great achievement in the breeding program at The Wilds with the most calves born at the center in a span of only 10 weeks. This male calf also marks the 20th rhino to be born at the conservation center since 2004, and the 10th, fourth-generation rhino.

The Wilds is the only facility that has had fourth- and fifth-generation births of this species outside of Africa. Former Battelle President and CEO, Jeff Wadsworth, and his wife Jerre, selected the name “Gordon” for the calf with a nod to Gordon Battelle, the founder of the company which has generously supported The Wilds’ education programs.

Gordon’s arrival was preceded this season by the births of a female calf to mother, Anan, on October 5, a male born to mother, Zenzele, on November 16, and a male born to mother, Mustang Sally, on November 19. All four calves share the same father. The female calf has since been named “Faith” after one of The Wilds’ volunteers. Zenzele’s male calf received the name “Gilman” after the founder of The Howard Gilman Foundation, honoring the late Mr. Gilman’s generosity to The Wilds, and Sally’s calf was named “Tebogo” (a Botswanan name meaning “we are thankful”) by generous donors, Cy and Joanne Spurlino.

Here’s a video showing all four cuties hanging with their mom and just exploring!

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