WE WENT to the Baltimore Zoo. The birds and the beasts were there. Well, some of them, anyway.
Hit by the budget crunch just as it was about to open its new "African watering hole," the zoo is now trying to raise $150,000 to purchase the animals (rhinos, zebras, kudus, pink-backed pelicans and others) to populate the new outdoor exhibit.
The zoo wouldn't turn down heavy hitters, but much of what it is raising is coming from school kids in dribbles of dimes, nickels, even pennies. It reminded us of the 10-cent savings stamps we used to buy in school after World War II.
Since we last visited several years ago, the zoo has made giraffe-like strides. Throughout the exhibits there's more of an effort to educate (as well as to entertain), particularly in the new (to us) children's section, with its marsh aviary, otter pond, waterfall and wilderness cave.
The zoo also has a more open air about it. Fewer animals pace back and forth in cages; more are in natural settings, appearing to be roaming, and that will be the look of the watering hole, we were told by our able docent, Carolyn Shaffer.
Some things hadn't changed since our last visit. The hippo house still stinks. The camels are still ugly.
And the flamingos still stand on one thin leg, as though daring a gust of wind to blow them away.