A youngster sits astride a snow leopard at the Sacramento Zoo Carousel, image

A youngster goes for a wild ride on a snow leopard at the Sacramento Zoo Conservation Carousel.

tiger at carousel at Oakland Zoo, image

A tiger gives a silent roar of welcome at the Oakland Zoo.

Carousels with Endangered Animals

Road Journals Blog—What kid (or inner child) doesn't love a carousel ride? Most carousels provide a reliable source of smiles featuring a traditional cast of characters: zebras, horses, lions, and the like. These days, though, some zoo carousels monkey around, so to speak, with the classic animal mix, adding a variety of threatened or endangered species to the cavalcade and thereby increasing awareness of these animals' plight. The smiles, however, remain the same.

Oakland
Installed in 2002, the Oakland Zoo's 36-foot Endangered Species Carousel counts 12 current and former endangered species—including the giant panda (current) and the bald eagle (former) among its 29 hand-painted animals—and a single, shiny chariot. Animal portraits and wildlife murals adorn the carousel frame and canopy. oaklandzoo.org.

Sacramento
You'll find a sea turtle, a snow leopard, and an antelope-like East African bongo among the endangered species on the Sacramento Zoo's Conservation Carousel. The carousel sports a total of 32 hand-painted wooden animals. saczoo.org.

Los Angeles
Who wants to ride a chariot resembling a threatened dung beetle? That's one option at the Los Angeles Zoo's Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel, which opened in 2011. You'll encounter a few horses among the 64 carved animal figures, but the emphasis is on endangered and threatened species like the silverback gorilla, the Sumatran tiger, and the honeybee. lazoo.org.

Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City's Hogle Zoo debuted its Conservation Carousel in 2008. You can lounge in a pair of chariots, or sit astride one of the colorful menagerie of 42 hand-carved, wooden critters, that includes threatened and endangered animals such as the cassowary of Australia and New Guinea (a flightless bird), the polar bear, and the colobus monkey of Zanzibar. hoglezoo.org.

Photography courtesy of Oakland Zoo and Sacramento Zoo

This blog post was first published in August 2014. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.