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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Finals are a zoo, relax at Reid Park


    Courtesy of Reid Park Zoo

    Baby elephant Nandi rolls around on a ball in the elephant enclosure at the Reid Park Zoo. Visiting the zoo is a good way to unwind during a stressful time of year.

    With finals week fast approaching, many students overwhelmed with stress wish they could escape to a haven far away from the world of academics. Thankfully, such an oasis exists about 10 minutes from the UA campus at Reid Park Zoo.

    With its beautiful landscapes and plant life, the zoo offers more than just a few animal exhibits. And the animals that do call Reid Park Zoo their home each have their own unique personalities, making every trip exciting and worthwhile.

    “We have over 100 species on exhibit –— totaling over 400 animals,” said Jason Jacobs, Reid Park Zoo director. “We’re most famous for our herd of African elephants. We have six of them, including Nandi, who was born in August of 2014. She’s the first elephant ever born in the state of Arizona, so it’s very significant. And we have other large animals like giraffes and rhinoceros, lion and tiger. But really, every species has a story to tell.”

    The Tucson community seems to have fallen in love with Nandi’s story. The Arizona Daily Star kept tabs on her growth and posted some information provided by the zoo’s elephant manager, Sue Tygielski, on its website.

    “For her 6-month birthday, Nandi got a taste of the good life,” the Arizona Daily Star webpage said. “The zoo threw her two birthday parties, where she had a grand old time whacking ‘piñatas.’”

    The Reid Park Zoo website estimates that it will take visitors only about two hours to meander through the entire park. Its smaller size is favorable for students who want to avoid the hustle and bustle of a larger zoo. Two hours is also the perfect amount of time for students to rejuvenate before hitting the books.

    “I think a lot of people like [Reid Park Zoo] because we’re not a huge zoo, but you see a lot of animals, and we’re laid out very well in that you’re not walking a lot of distance between the animal exhibits,” Jacobs said. “A lot of our exhibits allow you to get very close to the animals. For instance, in our lion and tiger exhibits, we use a combination of woven mesh and glass viewing caves, so that you can get very close to these animals.”

    For Sarah MacKenzie, a junior studying speech, language and hearing sciences, the pathway leading through the park allows her to relax and reminisce.

    “What I like about the Reid Park Zoo is, I guess for me, the familiarity of it,” MacKenzie said. “I grew up going to it, and it’s somewhere I can go, and it’s just kind of like solace, [because] there’s memories of where I’ve been, but … you never know which animals are going to be out.”

    MacKenzie’s favorite animals include the elephants and the grizzly bears. She also said she loves the exhibit featuring the Andean bears.

    “Their exhibit is covered in wildflowers in the spring, and that’s my favorite time to just go and get quiet time or hang out,” MacKenzie said. “You can just sit and watch them play and wander. It’s really tranquil there, especially when there aren’t school kids.”

    MacKenzie agreed that the Reid Park Zoo provides a home away from home for university students in need of a therapeutic atmosphere.

    “It is a great place to go to get away from finals stress,” MacKenzie said. “You’re reminded that things exist outside of school. … It’s a really good way to just get out of that focus and that tunnel mentality that we have during finals week. You can really sit and think about something else or think about nothing at all and just enjoy some beautiful creatures.”


    Follow Madison Scavarda on Twitter.

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