I visited the zoo today with my two kids, ages 3 and 7. My kids love animals so we decided to visit Catoctin, based on the ability to get up close to and feed the animals. We paid the extra $10 per person for the safari ride. Unfortunately, the safari was canceled due to mechanical problems. Before our safari was cancelled, though, the staff handed us food to feed the animals we would encounter on the ride. We received English muffins for the bison and popcorn for the other animals. I am not an animal expert, but I am pretty sure that English muffins are not in the natural diet for bison. I thought perhaps they were special muffins baked with extra vitamins and minerals, but then I saw the shed where the zoo stored hundreds of boxes of Thomas English muffins. I then took notice of what the other animals were eating. The camels were fed cookies straight from a warehouse store sized box of animal crackers. The apes, monkeys, and lemurs were given boxed raisins; conceivably grapes and raisins are healthy foods for these animals, but I then saw the apes and monkeys eating the remaining raisin boxes that were littered around their cages. Several species of birds were given French baguette bread. I am very concerned about the welfare of these animals.
Beyond the animal feeding, conditions at the zoo were not much better. There are no bathrooms after the front gate, only porta poties. The porta potty I used near the safari was overflowing with human excrement and looked like it had not been emptied in at least a day. It was disgusting. There is animal excrement all over the pathways of the zoo - not all of which can be attributed to the geese that wander freely through the park. Other animals must be led along the paths. At times it was difficult for us to dodge the excrement.
The zoo is very rundown. The site map is very misleading, indicating exhibits and animals that are no longer at the zoo. My kids would run to find a certain animal, only to find the habitat completely empty.
In its favor, the staff at the zoo was very kind and accommodating. We were refunded the money for our cancelled safari without incident.
We will not visit again.
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