Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bio Park and Heritage Farm

Butterflies, groupers, hybiscus and cows, Oh My!

Albuquerque's BioPark is an amazing place! The botanical gardens are attached to the Zoo, on the other side of Central Avenue, by a train that runs under the road and along the river. A single ticket can be purchased that covers the Zoo, the Aquarium, and the gardens (also known as the Bio Park) and the Heritage Farm.

The gardens consist of a children's fantasy garden built to make you feel as if you become smaller and smaller as you go deeper inside. Overhead a large bee buzzes as it sucks nectar from an enormous flower,  and a bit further on, a watering can of grand proportions sits at the ready for a giant hand to take hold and give the larger than life plants a good long drink. Redwood sized trees lie rotting on their sides as termites the size of German Shepards guard eggs and wiggle their antenna about.

Outside colorful tiles decorate a fountain and undulating bench seat. Beyond the shade trees a large pond glistens in the bright sunlight while geese and ducks nest on center islands prepared specifically for their little families. The trails and walks lead to a Moorish garden, a rose memorial garden, a beautiful trellised sanctuary clearly set up for a wedding later in the day. Two glass terrariums rise on the horizon, housing a desert landscape that can't survive Albuquerque's colder winters and a jungle environment that can't live without artificial moisture constantly sprayed in by foggers. Further on is a "curandera"garden of native healing herbs and plants, a manicured Japanese garden and the Heritage Farm. Butterflies have been released in a special screened room, set up only in the summer, so people can experience the delights of hundreds of these beautiful flitting creatures.

Across a plaza, the aquarium houses jellyfish, a tank with millions of gallons of salt water complete with eels, groupers, turtles, and sharks. In smaller tanks - anemones and clown fish, sea stars, urchins, and corals. It's not huge, but the displays are quite colorful, and informative.

We arrived after noon, so we only visited the Bio Park, not the zoo. It's a lovely experience and one I would hope most tourists get a chance to see, as well as every kid in the metro area.