Photo creditPhoto: Courtesy of Oakland Zoo
Photo creditPhoto: Courtesy Sacramento Zoo
What kid (or inner child) doesn't love a carousel ride? Most merry-go-rounds provide a reliable source of smiles featuring a traditional cast of characters: zebras, horses, lions, and the like. These days, though, some zoos 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.
This blog post was first published in August 2014. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.