Metroparks African Safari

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 2-10-02, By RON VIDIKA, Morning Journal Writer

``ELYRIA -- If you haven't been there lately, it's a jungle at the mall.

Specifically, the Midway Mall, where the Lorain County Metro Parks has unveiled their ninth exhibit in as many years. This one is called, Safari: An African Adventure.

Located near the food court, the 5,000-square-foot display entices visitors to explore East Africa and the unusual wildlife that roam the savannah or grasslands of the region.

An albino reticulated ("net" pattern on skin) python

''We actually have two habitats in one,'' said Matt Kocsis, a naturalist for Lorain County Metro Parks.

''We have an open, grassy area that animals count on for vegetation and a woodland nighttime scene,'' said Kocsis. ''It's a flowing habitat.''

Safari: An African Adventure, which is open until April 7 at the mall, took between 40 and 50 people to assemble ...

''We made pieces and parts for the exhibit off site,'' said Tim Fairweather, senior naturalist at Sandy Ridge Reservation in North Ridgeville.

Meeting with a zebra at the African Safari

''Normally, we'd start the exhibit in November, but because of this room, we had to wait until Jan. 2. This room was being used until that time,'' said Fairweather.

Along with a nine-foot-high termite mound and a wooden bridge that takes children inside a native baobab tree, there are also live specimens on hand, from peach-faced love birds, which are indigenous to Africa, to Emperor scorpions and hard-shelled, foot-long millipedes.

And don't forget the reticulated albino python. Or the porcupine. Or the fennec fox.

Gerald Marlette, left, volunteers for the Lorain County Metroparks

The stuffed animals are on loan from area taxidermists and many of the live animals, birds and insects are on loan from Animal Safari in Port Clinton ...

In addition to added space for the exhibit, Kocsis said visitors can also whet their appetite at the mall's food court ...

Taking the foot-long millipede out of its glass case, Fairweather placed it in his hand ...

''He's a vegetarian,'' said Fairweather of the insect[?]. ''He eats things like lettuce ...''

Matt Kocsis, a naturalist for Lorain County Metro Parks, shows how big is the ear of an African elephant.

Fairweather then ... showed how scorpions glow in the dark.

''Scorpions are covered with phosphorescence that make them glow under a black light,'' said Fairweather, and turned on a black light above the scorpions, causing them to glow an eerie pale blue, ...

Fairweather said the admission cost to Safari: An African Adventure is $1 per person. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.'' ''

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