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   On Tuesday, May 4th the Waynedale United Methodist Preschool presented a cake to Zoo Director Jim Anderson of the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo for being voted in the top ten of the country’s most friendly zoos.The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo was named one of the nation's Ten Best Zoos for Kids by the editors of Child magazine on Tuesday, May 4th, 2004.

"This‑recognizes exactly what we try to do:‑ provide a first-class experience for kids and their families.‑ It is great recognition for‑our zoo and our entire community," says Zoo Director Jim Anderson.

The accolade is part of an article ranking zoos around the country.‑ It is featured in the June/July issue of Child magazine, which will arrive on newsstands next week.

The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo was ranked ninth in the nation for its commitment to serving children and families in all areas of its operation.

To compile information for the rankings, Child magazine staff conducted a five-month investigation of 150 zoos around the country.‑ The zoos were asked to complete an extensive survey detailing educational programs, staff-to-visitor ratios, animal care, family conveniences, conservation efforts, safety measures, and more.

"For 39 years we have provided an experience that people enjoy — an experience where they can see new things, do new things, and get a little closer to nature and animals," says Anderson.‑ "National recognition like this helps spread the word that Fort Wayne is a great place to live and raise a family."

Other zoos on the top ten list include the San Diego Zoo, Brookfield Zoo, Cincinnati Zoo, Bronx Zoo, and the Columbus Zoo.‑ The Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Florida, was ranked number one.‑ The entire Child magazine article can be viewed at http://www.child.com/about_us/index.jsp

In 2004, the zoo has plans to open a newly-constructed 50,000-gallon saltwater aquarium which will house blacktip sharks, zebra sharks, epaulette sharks and cownose rays. Two specially-designed 650-gallon tanks will display nettle jellyfish and moon jellies, which will appear to be magically suspended in the water.

The zoo also welcomed three Sumatran tiger cubs on April 22nd. These cubs are being monitored by a closed circuit camera. The zookeepers have no intention of intervening with the cubs' care unless they are unable to nurse. The father tiger plays no role in the care of his offspring, and can in fact be a danger to them. "Berani", the cubs' father, spends his time in the zoo's Tiger Forest exhibit while "Chrissie", the mom, cares for the babies in an off-exhibit holding area. Zoo officials hope to create an opportunity for visitors to view the cubs in their den via a closed circuit television monitor sometime in the next month. Sumatran tigers are native to the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Only about 500 of these endangered cats remain in the wild. Seven Sumatran tiger births were recorded in North American zoos in 2003.

"We want the zoo to be a place where memories are made. We're looking forward to a great season," says Anderson. The zoo is open every day from 9am to 5pm until October 10. Admission is $7.50 for adults, $5.00 for children ages 2-14 and for seniors over age 60.‑ Babies under age 2 and Zoo Society Members are admitted free.

The Waynedale News Staff
Author: The Waynedale News Staff
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