Go Behind the Scenes with Zoo America After Dark
This past weekend I spent the entire weekend in Hershey P.A. learning all about the legacy that Mr. Milton Hershey left behind. It was so educational and inspiring hearing about the dreams he had for Hershey and what he wanted to give his employees. I’ve been to Hershey Park a few times in the past couple of years and one of my favorite stops is Zoo America so when I saw we were getting the opportunity to go behind the scenes with Zoo America After Dark I was beyond ecstatic. Thanks to Hershey P.A. for hosting me this weekend.
Our time at Zoo America started after the park had already closed for the night. It was a very chilly afternoon and after spending the day around Hershey and in the park we didn’t know what to expect. When Dale (the zoo naturalist in charge at Zoo America) came and asked us about how we wanted to do the tour, we were all tired and hoped it would be short. Just one mention of feeding an animal and we immediately wanted the full tour. Guests interested in taking the Zoo America After Dark tour can do so if you are three years and older. The price is $49 per person and they can accommodate up to ten people. The guided tour that gives you behind the scenes, non-public access to Zoo America is two hours long and are held on Wednesday and Saturday nights year-round. Our first stop was in the education room and that’s where we meet Luna the Screech Owl.
Luna helps the staff at Zoo America with educational programs. She plays a vital part of the program and she’s an example of how Zoo America is helping with conservation efforts. Luna only has vision in one eye, this prohibits her from being able to hunt in the wild. She was found injured in the wild so the zoo has taken her in as a part of their family. They care for Luna by making sure she has food to eat and protecting her from the wild.
Did you know that owls feathers are made to prevent them from making any sound when flying? They are known as silent flyers. Luna appears bigger than what she really is. She’s a small owl. According to the zoo she only weighs 6 ounces.
The Milton Hershey School is another thing we learned about during our weekend stay and the children at the school created these drawings that make up this piece of art for the wall of the Zoo. I loved it because it’s a great way to see how the animals look through the eyes of a child.
Getting close to Luna wasn’t all we did during our tour of the zoo either. We also had the opportunity to learn about this baby alligator as well. They even gave us a chance to touch him. I was surprised at how cold he felt to the touch. He wasn’t scaly and dry at all. Don’t let his size food you however according to Rachel – Zoo Naturalist – this baby alligator could bite off your fingers if they were to end up in his mouth.
Remember I mentioned we were going to be feeding animals on this tour? Well one of those feedings were with this Black Bear at the zoo. You would be surprised to know that we were just feeding him grapes on the skewer. Zoo America has a pair (brother & sister) Black Bears from the West Virginia. We learned the bears were rescued from the basement of one resident who thought they would make good pets. Soon they outgrew the basement and started to cause a problem for the people who captured them. Zoo America was contacted about taking the animals and being able to house and care for them. It worked out great for the zoo. I’m not sure why anyone would want a bear as a pet but I sure hope they don’t get that idea ever again. We also had the opportunity to feed some friendly otters as a part of the After Dark tour.
I had an amazing time during the Zoo America After Dark tour. We learned so much about all the different animals there. We saw some cool bobcats, watched some Ocelot play around, check out the Alligators, looked in on some Vampire Bats, learned a wealth of knowledge about several species of owls, and gained an appreciation for animals. At Zoo America they only have animals from North America and the zoo is set up by regions so you can learn about the different animals in various regions. If you live in the Hershey PA area you can get a membership at the zoo, and for just $45 per person and $125 per family, you get unlimited admission to the zoo during regular hours as well as some other great perks. Guests of Hersheypark can enjoy complimentary admission to Zoo America because it’s included in their ticket price. When ever we visit we always take the kids up there to see the animals and on the monorail you get a brief glimpse of some of the animals there.