ROAR. Tweet. SNorT. HONK. Hoooooowl. You know, just the average sounds you’ll hear when you visit a zoo. And I love zoos & aquariums. I’ve been to zoos/aquariums in Columbus, D.C., Frankfurt, Pittsburgh, Scotland, Charleston, and probably several others that are escaping me at the moment. But surprisingly Greenville also has their own zoo. It’s not overly large and they have a limited selection (especially if you are comparing it to the larger zoos that put a small city to shame).
But I love Greenville’s zoo. And here’s why sometimes smaller is better.
Greenville’s zoo is small but that is one thing I love about it. I don’t waste an entire day or afternoon driving to the zoo, parking, waiting in lines, and pushing people out of the way to see the animals. Most zoos are an all-day activity or at least an all-afternoon activity. By the time I leave other zoos, my feet hurt, I’m grumpy and tired of being pushed around, and I just want to go home.
But with Greenville’s zoo you can get in and out in 2 hours or less. It’s quick. You can get your zoo fix without wasting your entire day. And because of this, I often find myself going back often since it’s actually enjoyable. Hell I’ve even spent my lunch break just wandering around the exhibits. Need a better idea of its size? Check out the map.
Also, a huge plus in my book, because the zoo is smaller, it’s also cheaper. Parking is free. And you can get in and out for less than $9 per person (that’s cheaper than most movie theaters). And not only do you get to see some pretty sweet animals but you’ll also get your daily dose of exercise and Vitamin D.
Yep. That’s right. The Zoo occasionally has some baby giraffes. *pause for the awwwwww*
The Greenville Zoo has two adult giraffes: Walter and Autumn. And since the zoo participates in the Species Survival Program, the two giraffes are encouraged to, umm, you know, get it on. In 2012, Autumn gave birth to Kiko, an extremely cute giraffe. And though sadly Kiko was recently relocated to the Toronto zoo (so he could win over the lady giraffes there), it is likely that Walter and Autumn will create another baby giraffe.
And let me tell you…baby giraffes are ADORABLE! They’re all long necks and gangly legs. Who wouldn’t want to scoop up a baby giraffe and run away with it. I know I’m tempted.
(Please be aware that if you actually attempt to steal a baby giraffe, they are bigger than they look. I mean they pop out and they’re already 6 feet tall…poor mommy giraffe.)
Have you ever wanted to get your drink on while looking at some giraffes, lions, and monkeys? Yes? Well then you are in luck! In the spring, Greenville Zoo hosts the Brew in the Zoo. Basically you listen to music, sample some local beer, and wander around the zoo after hours. Sippin’ Safari is roughly the same deal but it’s in the fall. And yep, you guessed it, instead of beer there are wine samples. As well as some local food stations, music, and even a silent auction. The prices for these events are more expensive than a regular ticket but they are fundraising events, so I get it. Simply pick your season or your drink of choice and you can party after-dark at the zoo.
Unfortunately I always seem to be out of town when these events take place. And each year, when I realize I’ve planned a trip over the event, I groan inwards and have to satisfy myself with just the idea of drinking a beer while bonding with the red pandas.
Which brings me to…
Red Pandas and Ocelots!!!!!!
Okay so I’m biased. I have my favorites when it comes to a zoo. Don’t hate. I love me some red pandas. Like I really love me some red pandas. I spend more time with my face pressed as close to the bars of the red panda cage than I do at any other exhibit. When I come home, my camera has over 50 red panda shots but I always feel like it isn’t enough.
They are adorable. A walking, breathing stuffed animal. And as I gaze up at them through the bars as they snuggle themselves into their hammock or drape themselves across a limb, I have a strong urge to try to steal one of them. They are the cutest thing I have ever seen.
And the Greenville Zoo has THREE of them! Though I’ve only seen two at a time, their names are Scarlet, Firecracker, and Colette. And I just love them.
My second favorite has got to be the Ocelots. Yes I’m a dog person. And yes I’m actually allergic to cats. But the ocelots are sleek. Powerful. Graceful. Small. Beautiful. And sneaky. I can imagine them creeping along in the wilderness, stalking their prey. Their bodies move without making a sound and their eyes are large and haunting. They suspend their bodies high in the trees and stare down at us puny humans with such indifference that I can’t help but marvel.
Yea that’s kind of weird. But to me an Ocelot is the epitome of small but mighty.
So yea. The Greenville Zoo. Obviously I dig it (I am a member after all), but if you’re in town and have a couple of hours to burn, why not give it a shot? It’s small but that’s what I like about it.
The Nitty Gritty
Location: 150 Cleveland Park Drive, Greenville, SC 2960
Children ages 3 – 15: $5.50
Children 2 and under: Free
Hours: Open everyday (except major holidays)
Fall / Winter hours: 10am – 5pm
Spring / Summer hours: 9am – 5pm
Zoo entry ticket sales close at 4:15 p.m