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We have many happy animals at the zoo

It appears that the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is quite the romantic getaway—if you’re an animal.

So says zoo President and Chief Executive Officer Donald P. Hutchinson.

The issue of the romantic lives of exotic animals came up Wednesday as the Board of Public Works took up approval of a nearly $5.2 million state grant to the zoo.

O'Malley - Kopp

Gov. Martin J. O’Malley (center) with Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp (foreground) at the July 2, 2014 Board of Public Works Meeting. (The Daily Record/Bryan P. Sears)

Hutchinson took a moment to explain the changing nature of facilities such as the one he oversees.

The zoo is the third oldest in the country. At the time of its founding in 1876, the zoo functioned as a place where the public could see animals from all over the world. Now, the zoo focuses on species survival efforts, Hutchinson said.

“The Maryland zoo is the preeminent breeder of South African Penguins” said Hutchinson.

The zoo is also focused on efforts to preserve the Panamanian Golden Frog, which is extinct in the rain forests of its home country, as well as lions, elephants and giraffes.

All of the matches come from recommendations made by zoological organizations.

“For example, they may say that a bear in Albuquerque meets the genetic lines of the bear in Baltimore,” Hutchinson explained to the board. “We make arrangements to bring the Albuquerque bear to Baltimore for specific breeding purposes  in order to address the species survival program.”

“And boy was that bear happy,” O’Malley remarked.

“At one point and time, the bear was extremely happy because it had, no I won’t go into that,” Hutchinson told the governor. “We have many happy animals at the zoo.”