Zoos

Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo Thurmont

Where is it at?

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Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo
13019 Catoctin Furnace Rd.
Thurmont
MD
21788
Tel: 301 271 3180

Where are we going today?

We have some AMAZING creatures across our planet, but you don't need to even get on a plane to discover them all - not when there are 319 species at Catoctin Wildlife Preserve & Zoo!

Catoctin Wildlife Preserve & Zoo is a great place for kids to come face to face with their favorite animals, and even meet some they have never heard of before! It's a fun, learning experience where they can just spend the day with the family - and nature!

The zoo is divided up into different habitat areas, that represent the different habitats across the globe. And of course we know, creatures some in great and small packages, so from the furry to the scaly, to the grand, it's really a great learning experience for kids to understand what environment and animals we have on the planet.

Kids can see those amazing bears look for food, or try and spot those boas in the trees. There are cheeky lemurs to enjoy, and playful monkeys to amuse! From domestic pigs, to adorable llamas, and even over 450 exotic animals, Catoctin Wildlife Preserve & Zoo really takes the kids on an adventure!

Want to REALLY make your WILD day out extra special? Check out the escorted truck safari rides! This one hour adventure takes you through four paddocks of exotic animals, across 25 wooded acres! You will see African zebras, North American bison, wild sheep, giant birds like the Emu, and even antelope and deer!

With daily activities such as feedings and even camel rides, it's no wonder families go WILD for this Maryland attraction!

Are you ready for your adventure? 

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How much does it cost?

  • Adults$16.95 - $18.75 (Safari Ride $12)
  • Children$11.50 - $13.75 (Safari Ride $12)
  • Free Under: 2 years
LAST UPDATED 2016

When can we go?

Hours range from 9am/11am open, to 4pm/6pm close. Check before you go

March to November

Teachers corner

There is so much for students to learn! They have great programs for students, with animal encounters and petting areas!.

I'm Hungry!

There is a cafe open from Memorial to Labor Day where you can get lunch or snacks!.

Healthy Eating!

You can bring small coolers and ice chests, but no glass, disposable straws/lids, and balloons, so you can bring your own lunch, but don't feed the animals!. Make sure you help keep the zoo clean!.

Any Top Tips?

When you arrive, check the times of the rides and feedings, so you can plan your day around them!.

Can I get one of those?

Bring that pocket money - there's a gift shop! Great for animal related gifts, souvenirs, toys, and educational items .

More information

The last admission is taken an hour before closing. .

What people are saying?

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    I was amazed with the size of the place and how many different kinds of animals were there. No, it's not the size of a typical city zoo, but a good size and you see a ton of animals without doing a ton of walking. It is set up much like a theme park, broken up into different themes; Australian Outback, African Safari, North America, Wetlands, etc. This gem is a well worth the drive from the Baltimore/Washington Area.

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    I read the reviews and was doubtful about the zoo. I had a blast there with my kids today. It is a small zoo - you don't have to walk a lot. There is a good variety of animals that children can see and feed from close proximity. The zoo may not provide top class facility to the animals but is truly a natural habitat. Children definitely enjoyed the Safari ride - it did not matter to them how rugged the path was. It was bumpy, a natural feel and they loved the bison, zebras, and donkeys that they saw and fed on the Safari. You can have a lot of fun...Read More

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    A truly fine experience. It is apparent from the way they treat the animals there is a lot of love for each of these creatures. Very humane, wonderful habitats, a great venue for education and salvation of the various species.

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    I felt terrible for the animals. Granted, most of my experience with exotic animal care comes from self-teaching, some classes, and no actual hands-on experience, but you didn't need that training to tell that these animals were not in the right conditions.

    Staff was uneducated and unenthusiastic about the animals. We went to a keeper talk and the staff member looked very bored and showed us about three animals. The facts she gave were bland, useless or wrong. We were shown an Amazonian Parrot and she said and I quote, "This is how it perches in...Read More

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    This zoo should be shutdown ASAP! Very small living quarters, poor diets, lack of stimulation, very dirty....very sick feeling walking out of that place. Felt more like a dilapidated than a zoo. Please do not support this atrocity.

Submit a review

by Anu Vijay

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I read the reviews and was doubtful about the zoo. I had a blast there with my kids today. It is a small zoo - you don't have to walk a lot. There is a good variety of animals that children can see and feed from close proximity. The zoo may not provide top class facility to the animals but is truly a natural habitat. Children definitely enjoyed the Safari ride - it did not matter to them how rugged the path was. It was bumpy, a natural feel and they loved the bison, zebras, and donkeys that they saw and fed on the Safari. You can have a lot of fun in 3 hours or so without walking a lot.

by Stephen Boyhont

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I felt terrible for the animals. Granted, most of my experience with exotic animal care comes from self-teaching, some classes, and no actual hands-on experience, but you didn't need that training to tell that these animals were not in the right conditions.

Staff was uneducated and unenthusiastic about the animals. We went to a keeper talk and the staff member looked very bored and showed us about three animals. The facts she gave were bland, useless or wrong. We were shown an Amazonian Parrot and she said and I quote, "This is how it perches in the wild." How does it perch any other way? She also brought out an alligator to which she explained had three "eyelashes" I'm very sure she meant to say "eyelids" and it was an honest mistake, but combined with her lack of energy and no-brainer info it was embarrassing.

The safari ride was through a rocky desolate dirt area. The poor bison don't really have the grassy plains they are used to. The staff has what they call "gate monkeys" which are staff members that run through the enclosure to open gates to the next section of the safari area. Not the safest or smartest idea. Also, the animals were fed buttered popcorn and processed bagels. They are probably also fed other things, but these human foods do not help the dietary needs of these animals.

The one staff member on the safari ride also talked disparagingly about the National DC Zoo saying that the animals have too big enclosures so guests can never see them. At least the animals there have their needs met and have more room to roam around. Also, it felt very weird to here a keeper say that about another zoo. Yes, they are competition, but they also share the same goal of promoting safe environments for animals and public education about animals.

Though, clearly, Catoctin Wildlife Preserve does not have the goals in mind. I then did more research and saw that they have been fined and in the video interview the staff members interviewed became very defensive and aggressive about the charges.

I was also disheartened at the gibbon enclosure. Gibbons are one of the few creatures that mate for life and that poor soul had no friends or potential mates. Primates are social creatures.

Overall a disheartening experience and I will not return.

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