No longer the “New Zoo” (the name the facility opened with in 1978), the Minnesota Zoo will celebrate its 35th anniversary this weekend. The zoo is one of those rare attractions that never gets old—although I’ve been there more times than I can count, I still enjoy it as much today as I did when I was a kid. And while I love revisiting long-time favorites (Amur tigers, black-tailed prairie dogs, pumas), I can never wait to see what new residents will call the zoo home. In the past few years this were Amur leopards, brown bears, and other animals from Russia’s Grizzly Coast, as well as African penguins. And this year (opening May 25), we’ll see the return of animals native to the African savannah and larger-than-life animatronic dinosaurs.
With a population that has nearly quadrupled since its opening, the zoo definitely has reason to celebrate—and you can, too! On May 18 and 19, encounter the animals, enjoy live music, crafts, a magician, face painting, and learn from zookeepers about tiger cubs, tamanduas, black and grizzly bears, small-clawed otters, and beavers. And, if you happen to be one of the first 1,000 kids there, you’ll get a free commemorative gift!