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Binder Park Zoo is located in Battle Creek, Michigan. The zoo was built into a wooded area so trees and other native wildlife abound. A walk-through takes you on dirt trails and wooden paths beneath a canopy of leafy branches. The park is a beautiful place to visit even without the critters.

Binder Park has all the animals typically seen in zoos: cheetahs, various monkeys, red pandas, large snakes, etc. The living quarters allotted to the animals seems larger than in other zoos I've visited. There is also a petting zoo filled with goats, llamas, and even reindeer, which the kiddies should find fascinating (their antlers are fuzzy, did you know that?).

A pretty rare and special guest is visiting for the summer. Currently, a white tiger cub is in residence at the zoo. The cub was born on April 15 at the Nashville Zoo. The very rare animal will be staying throughout the summer then make its permanent home at one of two zoos in Thailand.

Wild Africa, a fifty-acre expansion, was recently completed. Wild Africa is a small village consisting of a few small huts, the unavoidable gift shop, a restaurant (which laughably sells rare African dishes such as the cheeseburger and the three-piece chicken finger meal), and a mock university camp set up for the study of the various animals found in Africa. Notes made by "students" working at the camp can be found along the trails, pointing out some interesting observations about the area and giving an idea of what life in the African wild is like.

The jewel of the park is a seventeen-acre savannah where one of America's largest herds of giraffes live with gazelle, ostrich, zebra, and other animals. At the edge of the savannah there is an observation deck where guests can hand feed a biscuit/cracker thingy to the giraffes. A booth is located near the deck where the crackers can be purchased for a dollar apiece or six for five dollars. The five dollars spent on giraffe food was probably one of my better investments in recent history.

If you're ever near Battle Creek, I'd recommend a visit. The zoo is open seven days a week during the warmer months (Monday-Friday, 9 to 5; Saturday 9 to 6; Sunday, 10 to 6).

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