Spring forward at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

All the answers to your Como questions this season

Clocks have sprung forward, crocuses are on the cusp, and the insiders at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory can’t wait for the crowds to start coming. 

“I always tell friends and family that the best time to visit Como is during those first 50 degree days of spring when the animals start coming out of their barns to see what’s been going on,” says Jill Erzar, a hoofstock keeper at Como Zoo. Just like the rest of us, zoo animals can’t get enough of those first warm days, she says, “when we don’t have to worry about the snow and the mud anymore, and everyone is just super excited to be outdoors again.”

As we look ahead to warmer weather, longer days, and larger gatherings at Minnesota’s most visited cultural destination, here are some answers to our visitors’ most frequently asked questions.

Do I still need reservations?

Como’s online reservation system, which includes a translation tab in more than 100 languages, is still a requirement for all visitors. “We expect it may be in place for a little while longer because it’s helping to give many of our visitors some extra peace of mind about visiting, and they like that the staggered entry times makes for a less crowded experience,” says Laura Wake Wiesner, Visitor Services & Interpretive Services Manager for Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.

Any new animals to see?

Kulu, Como Zoo’s new polar bear, is an energetic two-year-old who often spends his mornings dog-paddling in Polar Bear Odyssey or hanging out and napping with his new roommates, Nan and Neil in the afternoons. Another new face to visit is Sterling, a female Saki monkey recently born at Como. “For the first month, it was kind of hard to find her because she was clinging to her mother,” says Wake Wiesner. “But now she’s big enough that you can see her little hands hanging on to her mother’s fur.”

What’s that weird noise?

It’s probably our two new wolves, Nicky and Cerberus. The distinctive, eerie call of the gray wolf has returned to Como Zoo thanks to these energetic, three-year-old littermates, who came  to St. Paul from their birthplace at the Wildlife Science Center in Stacy. Your support for Como Friends helped to make important updates to their habitat this year.

What’s the best time of day to visit?

Animals are at their most active in the morning, so if you’re coming to see a favorite furry face, make a reservation early in the day. Late afternoons are also a great time to visit, offering quiet garden corners and up-close animal encounters without the crowds.

What’s the best place to Instagram this season?

Definitely the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory’s Sunken Garden, where the Spring Flower Show runs from March 26 to May 1. Always the most anticipated show of the year, this year’s show features thousands of bulbs in punchy primary colors, from red and yellow tulips, to deep blue hydrangeas, with white and silver accents. Visitors can always take snapshots of Como’s most beautiful room, but if you want to use it or other parts of the Conservatory as the backdrop for your very own photoshoot, you can rent it before or after public hours by visiting this page. Click Link Below.  This season, the Sunken Garden has been a popular backdrop for maternity pictures and wedding announcements!

Where do you get all of these flowers?

Como’s horticulturists plan nearly a year in advance for every flower show, ordering several thousand special bulbs and plugs from around the world each year and planting them backstage in the Conservatory’s 30,000 square foot growing range. Once they’re pulled from the show, many of these bulbs are available for sale at Como Friends’ Garden Safari Gifts and recycled in backyards and curbside flower beds around the state. Watch your Como Promo for upcoming sales information and follow us on Facebook!

Where’s the best place to sit and relax?

The Sunken Garden is gorgeous, but seating is at a premium. Fortunately, there’s plenty of room to spread out in the new KSTP Amphitheater at Como Harbor, which also features sun protection if you forgot to wear sunscreen. When the weather gets even warmer, Garden Safari Gifts Director of Retail Operations Terri Scheunemann recommends the benches overlooking the flamingo pool by the historic Toby the Tortoise statue. “During the summer, it’s like being on a tropical vacation… with ducks!”

What’s the most popular animal here?

We don’t like to play favorites, but plush sales over the last decade at Como Friends’ Garden Safari Gifts do give us a little glimpse of which animals our visitors like the most. Based on those purchases, giraffes are among the most popular residents of Como Zoo, followed by snow leopards, wolves, and Arctic foxes. But the real super star seems to be Chloe the sloth. “Sloths are nearly in a category of their own,” Scheunemann says, noting that if you combine all the sloth-themed apparel, hats, plush, toys, garden pots, greeting cards, notebooks and other notions, then Como’s slowest moving resident leads the pack in popularity.

How much is admission?

Admission is always free at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, thanks in large part to your support for Como Friends. While many guests make a suggested donation of $4 for adults and $2 for children, it’s not a requirement. Thanks to your support for the public-private partnership between Como Friends and Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, Como is one of the only completely free major metro zoos in the country.

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