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The following is an archived video story. The text content of that video story is available below for reference. The original video has been deleted and is no longer available.

From the Miami Valley to the "Heart of Africa"; Special Tour

COLUMBUS-- If you're looking for a trip out of the Miami Valley during Memorial Day weekend, why not go to Africa? "The Heart of Africa" is new at the Columbus Zoo, and it's design is something the entire country is marveling at.   

"Does it look exactly like you wanted it to?" we asked Jack Hanna, Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo.
"Beyond... beyond what I wanted it to," he replied.

Walk into the new 35 million dollar exhibit, and you're not in Ohio anymore-- and you don't need your passport. The exhibit is one of a kind in the United States.

"Its been an incredible week for us here and it's been a dream all my life to do this," Hanna said, "And as I said I haven't gotten any work done because right here," he added gazing out at the herds of animals.

The exhibit is 8 acres of exquisite rolling plains. At the watering hole- central to the exhibit- we were greeted by Dimeci, a 35 day old cheetah baby. She will grow up at the exhibit, with the 140 other animals housed there; twenty species, including lions, zebras, monkeys, ostrich, wildebeest, and warthogs. There's dromedary camels to ride, and giraffe you can feed.

To keep the predators from feeding on their neighbors, and keep the unobstructed expansive views, the exhibit engineers had to get creative.

"In essence they're called 'ha ha' moats almost like a joke right," said Zoo CEO Tom Stalf, "But if you're in a balloon or on a plane you'll see that they're rolling hills and at the bottom of the hills there's a barrier which is a fence."

"See that's what it's like in the Serengeti," Hanna interjected. He would know. He's explored the continent dozens of times.

It took about three years to transform the former soybean field into the African Village and Serengeti Plains. Hanna said he expected about 100-thousand visitors during the holiday weekend.

"We have a saying here the Columbus Zoo," Hanna said about his message for the exhibit, "Touch the heart teach the mind."

Admission into the Heart of Africa exhibit is included in the price of a regular ticket, which can be found per age group HERE.

 
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