Tag Archive | zoo

Manitowoc Lincoln Park Zoo



We were in Manitowoc for the day for Al’s class reunion. It wasn’t until evening so we went to Lincoln Park Zoo for a few hours.


Admission is free but donations are gratefully accepted here.

Donation box at Lincoln Park Zoo in Manitowoc

The walk through the zoo was fun, and the animals looked well cared for, many were taking a nap when we were there ¬†ūüôā

Cougar at Lincoln Park Zoo

Asiatic Bear at Lincoln Park Zoo

Scattered throughout the grounds are footprints of many animals on concrete squares. Great idea!


The zoo also has a fish hatchery dedicated to Dean H. Heili, a man dedicated to preserving Great Lakes sport fishing.  He also invented the diving plane for lures.

Fish Hatchery at Lincoln Park Zoo

In the structure is a monitor  linked to an underwater camera so you can see the fish.  It also gives water temp. Sorry, it is difficult to photograph.


Fish Pond sign at Lincoln Park Zoo


A beautiful gazebo too.


There also is a platform overlooking a wetland, you might be lucky enough to see a crane or heron here!

Viewing Platform at Lincoln Park Zoo

Platform view at Lincoln Park Zoo

A look at some of the other animals here.


We went into the Education and Animal Care building last.  In here are reptile exhibits and an aviary.

Animal Care building Lincoln Park Zoo



Also a honeybee home. The Queen is painted white, I tried to find her but couldn’t.

Honeybees at Lincoln park Zoo

There is also an inner room for classes, etc. Also an exhibit of fish in Lake Michigan.

Fish display at Lincoln Park Zoo

We enjoyed our visit here, what took us so long? Enjoy the park too.

Cabbage White butterfly at Lincoln Park Zoo

The Show Must Go On In Baraboo

4-16-16, 5-27-17, 7-22-17, 12-22-17, 4-5-18 + other visits

Baraboo signBaraboo Water Tower

Lower Narrows

Baraboo Lower Narrows_10-20-12

Baraboo is the county seat of Sauk County with a population of over 12,000. A city with a rich history in the circus, the Ringling¬†family’s influence is woven into the city’s fabric and has been for over a century. Also Delavan, where we also have visited. You can also fly into the Baraboo Airport.

Baraboo Airport

Before you come into the city proper, be sure to stop at Man Mound Park on the outskirts of town.It was a little hard to find, the coordinates are N43¬į29.309’W089¬į40.278′ ¬† Man Mound Road. ¬†On YouTube a short video about the mound.

Man Mound and signs


Man Mound Park marker in BarabooIMG_4679

Legs and feet that are missing are marked with white paint on the road.

Legs and feet on man mound

There is also a small playground and a picnic bench at the park.

Man Mound park playground


Circus Heritage in Baraboo

Baraboo has been a special place for Al and I since we met in 1997. We scuba dived at Devil’s Lake State Park and we were married there in 1999.

There is so much to see and do here in all seasons of the year.  Summer and fall are the busiest seasons. Come in April or May or after Labor Day for smaller crowds.  However, some attractions are only open during the summer season. For example, Circus World Museum.  The circus performances are from late May to late August.  We enjoyed a visit there in late August 2013, they have a free admission day at the end of the season. We returned 5-27-17 for Military Service Appreciation Day, also free.

Circus World Museum

Ringling Brothers plaque at Circus World

Ringling Winter Quarters plaque at Circus World

Baraboo is also home to the International Crane Foundation, which we joined and visited 6-3-15.

ICF sign in Baraboo

Cudahy Visitor Center at Crane Foundation


Downtown Baraboo sign

As charming as these places are, you should see the historic downtown, looking much like it did when the original Ringling family were alive. ¬†Downtown Baraboo has its own website to keep us informed of all the great happenings there all year round. The Courthouse Square and nearby has many great businesses to patronize for shopping and dining. The Courthouse is beautiful and it’s chime at 12:00 noon echoed around the square.

Baraboo Courthouse 10-20-12

This plaque is on a rock outside of the Courthouse.

Circus Plaque outside of courthouse in Baraboo

Enjoy the Baraboo Farmers Market too from May through October.

Baraboo Farmers Market

For even more fresh produce in the fall, stop by Ski-Hi Fruit Farm. The fall colors in October are beautiful too.

Ski-Hi Fruit Farm

Apple processing at Ski-Hi in BarabooBaraboo Hill fall color

Baraboo also has its own radio station that we enjoy even in Madison, WRPQ.  You can even download their app to listen to it anywhere.

WRPQ Baraboo 10-20-12

2017-The station is now known as MAX FM.

The Corner Drug‘s distinctive red front makes it easy to find on the square.

Corner Drug in Baraboo

Also on this street is the beautiful Al. Ringling Theatre which was restored and still a work in progress. We took the tour on 7-22-17, but it is not permitted to post my photos of the inside.  You are allowed to take them during the tour only for your own enjoyment.

Al Ringling Theater in Baraboo

Here is what the theatre looks like in December at night.

On the corner of the square left of here is the Little Village Café, a historic building in journalism. You can just see the AL. Ringling mansion to the left down the street.

Village Cafe in Baraboo

Village Cafe Journalism plaque in Baraboo

A block or so from the square is the AL. Ringling Mansion, a beautiful red stone building you can’t miss seeing! Also, we highly recommend taking their tour to see the inside.¬† It’s open daily 11-4, tours every hour on the hour, the last tour starts at 3PM.¬†¬†Cost is $20 Adults
$5 for children 5-11
Free 4 & under
Group rates available.

Photos of the inside are permitted inside but not allowed to be posted on Facebook or other social media. The owners Joe and Carmen Colossa and family also live there and are working hard to transform this beautiful home into a Bed and Breakfast.   They purchased the home only in 2013, it seems longer though! The Elks Lodge used to own the mansion, but now just lease out parts of the space.

Joe also gave us an additional tour around town in the afternoon, showing us the cemetery, houses members of the Ringling family owned, and other circus lore.

AL. Ringling Mansion in Baraboo

Al Ringling Home sign

Meanwhile,  the Charles Ringling mansion already is a Bed and Breakfast, called the Ringling House. Such a cheerful yellow in the spring sunshine!

Ringling House Bed and Breakfast in Baraboo

Directly across the street from the AL. Ringling Mansion is another historic site, the first church in Baraboo, long gone.

First Church in Baraboo site

Baraboo likes visitors and offers plenty of free parking.  In this parking lot you can see a new set of mural panels painted by local citizens in 2015. Also another one across from WRPQ. Also an older one from 2013.

Baraboo Murals

Baraboo Mural

As you can imagine, Baraboo citizens have preserved a great many historic buildings and homes. ¬†We did our own tour to see them after lunch on our April visit. ¬†This city is one of the lucky ones, it has a Carnegie Library. We have seen those in some of the other places we have visited over the years. Visit the Baraboo Public Library to find books on Baraboo’s rich history.

Baraboo Library Carnegie

Badgerland Financial sits on the historic site where the Ringling Brothers put on their very first circus show on May 19, 1884.

First Circus Performance site in Baraboo

Ringling Brothers Circus Plaque

The Jacob Van Orden House is now the Sauk County Historical Museum, one owned by the Sauk County Historical Society.

Sauk County Historical Museum in Baraboo

The House of 7 Gables owners used to give a tour but doesn’t at the present time. They have lived they for 50 years, moved in as newlyweds. Owners Ralph and Pamela Krainik have put a lot of pride into restoring their home for the last 50 years. It was built in 1860. Read more about heir home here.

House of 7 Gables in Baraboo

The Baraboo School Administration building.

Baraboo Schhol Administration Building

All this exploring can make a person hungry, never fear though, there are a great many restaurants in Baraboo to choose from. Around the corner and to the left of the building above is the Broadway Diner. FANTASTIC food, they also are the official caterer to functions of the AL. Ringling Mansion.

Broadway Diner collage

Another favorite is the Baraboo Pizza Ranch across from Menards.

The Log Cabin Restaurant and Bakery, we have been there a couple times, they celebrate 20 years in 2016!

Log Cabin Restaurant in Baraboo

The Farm Kitchen on the outskirts of town by Devil’s Lake has been a favorite place of ours since were dating in 1997 to 1999.¬† We often ate there after scuba diving. ¬†We had our wedding rehearsal dinner there. This is how it looked in 2009, it has been under new ownership since 2015.

The Farm Kitchen in Baraboo Collage 2009

Baraboo offers a wide range of shopping, including the essentials. For groceries, the Viking Express Market has a lot of variety, great store! Even a red pig for the kids to ride!

Viking Market in Baraboo

Red Pig ride at Viking Market in Baraboo

Another favorite place we like shopping is¬†at¬†St. Vincent de Paul‘s, or Vinnies, just down the hill on ¬†100 South Blvd. within sight of the Broadway Diner. They also have a food pantry. ¬†Our tour that Joe Colossa took us on included some Circus Museum train cars and the longest train car building in the USA. They are located BEHIND Vinnies.

St. Vincent de Paul Baraboo 10-15-05 341

If you are tired from walking around downtown, let someone else do the walking, er, pedaling. We spotted a rickshaw parked, make an appointment for a relaxing tour of downtown Baraboo, $20 for 20 minutes.

Wildside Tour in Baraboo

Baraboo is host to many parks, Nanny Park even has a Little Free Library that looks like a circus wagon, cute!

Baraboo Little Library

Also Devil’s Lake State Park, where we honed our scuba diving skills and got married there underwater on July 24, 1999.

Al and Laurie Kutil vows at Devil's Lake

Climb the East Bluff Trail for beautiful fall color views of the Baraboo Hills below. This was October 9, 2010. Watch the turkey vultures soar above the lake, especially in summer. Sometimes we walked around the whole lake if we had an early start.

Devils Lake Fall 2010

Enjoy Ochsner Park and Zoo near downtown. The zoo opened in 1926 and has a great many visitors.   The adjacent park is alongside the Baraboo River and has two pavilions for large groups to gather.  We found a plaque at the park by the pavilion closest to the zoo, the first home in Baraboo was built on this site.

Ochsner Park and Zoo sign

Ochsner Zoo view

Ochsner Park in Baraboo

First Permanent home in Baraboo plaque in Ochsner Park

We always have a great visit to Baraboo.  There is always something new to see here and everyone is so friendly! Our parting shot is the swiftly running river going under the Manchester Street Bridge in this park.

Mackenzie Environmental Center in Poynette

11-7-12 and 4-2-16

Mackenzie Center sign

Mackenzie Environmental Center in Poynette not only educates people of all ages, the place is just plain fun to visit!  It had been 4 years since our last visit so it was time for some updates.  The center includes wildlife rescues, trails and education classes. Also a game farm.  They always need volunteers, see their website, Friends of MacKenzie Environmental Center. Our most recent visit was to attend their Maple Syrup Festival, that was a lot of fun!

Let’s begin our tour of Mackenzie! Here is a map of the grounds.

Mackenzie DirectionsMackenzie Center Lodge and dorm sign


The Lodge

Mackenzie Center Lodge

Located on the south end of the complex, the lodge is where classes are held and where the commercial kitchen is.  We had a great pancake breakfast there at the Maple Syrup fest.  There is a large dining/presentation room that easily accomodated the many hungry people that came for breakfast.

Mackenzie Lodge inside

There are some exhibits in some of the other rooms in the lodge.  Also a cut from a very large tree that was cut down in 1961, it may have been storm damaged.

Old Tree 1854-1961

In the room are also snowshoes and cross-country skis for groups to use on a winter outing.

Mackenzie lodge classroom

Observation Tower

Fire Tower at MackenzieMackenzie Fire Tower sign 4249

The climb to the top was worth it, great view!  The direction you are facing is labeled inside of the top enclosure. Even though it was very windy, I felt safe.

Mackenzie view from tower

Next to the tower is a Smokey the Bear figure you can get a fun selfie with.

Smokey selfie at Mackenzie

Wildlife Area

Mackenzie Wildlife Exhibit entry

Wildlife Area sign at Mackenzie

The “zoo” part of the park, there are animals here that you would typically see throughout Wisconsin. ¬†Many are animal rescues as well. The fire tower overlooks the Bison, or buffalo area. They are hard to see since they usually are not near the fence. An overview of the area. I will show you a few of the animals. ¬†It’s great they also show the footprint of the animal so you can identify it in the wild.

Wildlife area at Mackenzie

Wolf at Mackenzie

Turkey Vulture at Mackenzie

Red Fox at Mackenzie

After visiting all the animals here, cross the street from the wildlife exhibit entrance to enjoy the Windbreak Walk. It looked pretty with snow on the tree branches and blue sky on our most recent visit.

Windbreak Walk sign 2

Windbreak Walk sign at Mackenzie

Windbreak Walk trees at Mackenzie

Windbreak Walk interior at Mackenzie

Right across from the Windbreak Walk is the Badger Den, or conference building.

Badger Den at Mackenzie

Lastly, we head down the hill to the little village where many outdoor education classes takes place.  This is the Nelson Cabin, inside is a logging museum with many old photos and displays.

Nelson Cabin at Mackenzie

Nelson Cabin plaque

The Nelsons

11-7 334

A Sawmill Diorama, very detailed!

Logging Diorama at Mackenzie

We see the other out buildings, the Wallen Sugar House. A display was inside, also a sign telling you how to make your own syrup!

Wallen Sugar House Sign

Wallen Sugar House at Mackenzie

Wallen Sugar House display at Mackenzie

Many trees are tapped here to collect sap, more information on this sign.

Sugar Bush sign at Mackenzie

The Syrup Finishing House

Syrup Finishing House at Mackenzie

Syrup Finishing House at Mackenzie

Behind these buildings is the sawmill building.

Sawmill building at Mackenzie

Mackenzie also has a Crab Apple Orchard, an important food source for the wildlife in this area.

Crab Orchard sign

We had two enjoyable visits here, give yourself several hours to see everything and have good walking shoes.  Be sure to donate at least $1 when you visit to keep this great facility open.  You can donate online as well.  We hope to be back for another one of their seasonal events later in the year.

Mackenzie Donation box

Return to the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison – What An Amazing Place!


Henry Vilas Zoo Sign

It was time to come back to the Henry Vilas Zoo, and this time explore the ENTIRE zoo. My previous visit was on October 4, 2011¬†and I didn’t go through the entire zoo on that day. Also, Al was with me this time, he didn’t remember the last time he came here.

If you plan on coming, remember that its free to visit, donations are accepted though and there are donation boxes scattered throughout the zoo. Most days the zoo is open 9:30 to 5, more specifics on hours here.  Inside exhibits open at 10:00. Wear comfortable shoes, it took almost four hours to see the entire zoo in one visit. It helps to have a map with you too to check off each exhibit as you see it. Lets begin our tour!

We began at the main entrance where we find the gift shop and ice cream shop. Also two concrete lions that the kids love to take their picture with.

Vilas Zoo Gift Shop and Ice Ceam Shop


Concrete Lions at Henry Vilas Zoo

Now for a real lion, today he was sunning himself in full view, looking regal.

Lion at Vilas Zoo in Madison

 Next to the lion is the Primate House, the outdoor exhibits are also viewable from the inside.

Discovering Primates Building at Vilas

 Inside Primate House at Vilas

 After the Primate house we head along the path east and see the Anna Vilas Hall building, where many events take place.

Anna Vilas Hall at Vilas Zoo

¬†From the balcony of Anne Vilas Hall you could see the penguin’s home. They were not out ¬†that morning so here they are from my 2011 visit.

Penguin Parlor at Vilas 10-4-11

Penguins at Vilas ZooPenguin Parlor plaque at Vilas


Blackfoot Penguin facts at Vilas Zoo


Our next stop was the Tropical Rain Forest Aviary, with bird, reptiles and even rodents that live in the rain forest.

Rainforest Aviary at VilasTropical Rain Forest Aviary plaque at Vilas

Inside Tropical Aviary at Vilas

McCaw at Vilas

The Capybara is here too, the largest rodent.

Capabara at Rain Forest Aviary at Vilas


Now for the new exhibit we all have been waiting for, the new Arctic Passage!

Arctic Passage Exhibit Building at Vilas

In 2011 they were fundraising, now its a reality it just opened May 23, 2015. Here is an overview of the new mega-exhibit.

Many kids were there, and they were really enjoying it. We also had lunch at the new Glacier Grill inside, which offers a view of the Polar Bears while you eat! Eating here also supports the zoo.

Glacier Grill view at Vilas

The Sea Lions were really aping the crowd, and knew how to get claps and cheers.

There are many great photo-ops to take with your kids too. Not to mention numerous animal cut-outs the can put their faces in.

Vilas Zoo kid photo ops

Orangutan Cut-out for pictures at Vilas

This is really fun, outside of the Arctic Passage exhibit is an actual Tundra Buggy, used to transport scientists across the arctic and Antarctic icy terrain. You can go inside and kids can pretend to drive it, inside it sounds like its rolling along.

Tundra Buggy exhibit at Vilas

It’s not just for scientists anymore! In Churchill, Canada you can also have a buggy tour. Cool!

Across from the Arctic Passage exhibit is the North American Prairie exhibit. In it are Prairie Dogs, Badgers and Bison.

George M. Fiat North American Prairie exhibit at Vilas

Animals at North American Prairie exhibit at Vilas

The viewing platform’s scenery has changed since 2011. on the left is 2011, on the right is 2015. Wow, what a change!

View from Prairie Platform at Vilas 2011 and 2015

Next to here is the new Jack Lussier Conservation Pavilion, also just a sign on my visit in 2011. A docent was teaching a large group of children here.

jack Lussier Conservation Pavilion at Vilas

Next is the Herpetarium, or reptile house. Outside are two tortoises and an alligator. I probably saw those same tortoises when I was a kid, or even my Mom since they live over 100 in many cases.


Discovery Center and Herpetarium  at Vilas

Alligator and Tortises at Vilas


Inside Herpetarium at Vilas

And now for the best Children’s Zoo I can remember ever seeing.

Childrens Zoo entrance at Vilas

It wasn’t this big¬†when I was a kid. ¬†It has a petting zoo, train ride and carousel for both kids and adults to enjoy. It’s a $1.50 to ride them each. Lets watch them in action! The carousel is customized for Madison, see the panels above with the Capitol and Bascom Hill.

Vilas Zoo Carousel

Train ride at Vilas

The animals at the petting zoo area were so funny and all vying for attention.

Petting Zoo at Vilas

There also is a large play structure for the kids here. This is a zoo in itself.

Zoo play structure

Pink Flamingos are also in this part of the zoo.

Pink Flamingos at Vilas


Also here is the Red Panda, not for petting.

Red Panda at Vilas

The last area of the zoo to see is at the east-central area, with the giraffes, hippo, tapir, plus the tiger (not seen) and lion.

GiraffesHippo and Tapir at Vilas

Lots of tables under pavilions (new) near the central building that has been there since my childhood. Access to the Children’s Zoo used to be through the central area of this building.

Vilas Zoo central area

What a great time both of us had, you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy this zoo. ¬†Thanks also Vilas Family for bestowing this gift to Madison, your legacy begins its 2nd century!

Plaque in Vilas Zoo