Salisbury Zoological Park - Salisbury, Maryland - mid-sized zoo with around 500 animals

Opened in 1954, the Salisbury Zoo (officially named the Salisbury Zoological Park) is one of the few free public zoos in the country. Expanded and updated during the 1970s, the Salisbury Zoological Park is home to animals from North, South and Central America in natural enclosures.

The mission of the Salisbury Zoo is to promote an appreciation of nature and encourage conservation of wildlife and their habitats. The staff is committed to providing a relaxing and natural environment "where educational and recreational opportunities come together through participation and interaction,'' according to the zoo's website To that end, the Salisbury Zoo offers many educational and recreational programs including weekly family workshops on subjects like insects, bugs and amphibians. Family workshops include live animal presentations and craft activities suitable for a range of ages.

The animals housed at the Salisbury Zoo are varied and include spider monkeys, spectacled bears, jaguars, bison and bald eagles. They are housed in naturalistic settings that allow them to roam and relax at leisure while interacting with visitors. Other special features at the Salisbury Zoo include a Herb Garden and a Bird Garden. The facility hosts frequent special events for the community, and is available for group outings, birthday parties and overnight camping expeditions.

Each summer, the Salisbury Zoo holds ZooCamp for children in Kindergarten through Grade 8. The camps offer age appropriate activities that include live animal interactions, animal exhibits, arts and crafts activities and environmental games. There is an emphasis on conservation and keeping nature beautiful. Every session of the ZooCamp focuses on a different kinds of animals and their behaviors in the wild. For instance, 4th and 5th graders might explore how different animals survive in their ecosystems while those in grades 6 through 8 might spend two weeks as junior zookeepers, learning how to feed and care for the various animals housed at the zoo.

The zoo is a family-friendly facility that welcomes children ages 4-5 for a weekly Story Time with a read-aloud story read by a volunteer docent followed by crafts and activities to make the story come alive. Families and groups can participate in a ZooSnooz, overnight sessions that are ideal for Scout groups and other children's groups. Participants in a ZooSnooz will explore the zoo by night to learn about the nocturnal animals that populate the zoo, then spend the night at the zoo.

The zoo also participates in the state Zoo-2-You program that brings programs to classrooms and school groups, and offers Wildlife Encounter sessions and ZooDiscovery Stations that are designed to meet specific curriculum standards for the state.

In keeping with its focus on local and native animals, the Salisbury Zoo Education Department offers the LEAF (Local Ecology Animals and Forestry) program, which introduces fourth grade students to the local ecosystem and challenges them to design a perfect ecosystem after learning about the local forest and its inhabitants.

The Salisbury Zoological Park is open year round except Christmas Day and Thanksgiving. Summer hours are 9:00 AM through 7:30 PM. The zoo closes at 4:30 PM during the rest of the year. Admission is free at all times. For more information about special events and exhibits, contact the Salisbury Zoological Park at 410-548-3188.

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