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The L.A. Zoo's New Carousel Puts a Spin on Endangered Species

Posted Oct 27 2011 8:51pm

L.A. Zoo carousel Think you've been on a carousel? Wait 'til you see the one at the Los Angeles Zoo. Forget demure ponies and cacophonous accordions. Think Komodo dragons and Janet Jackson.

The zoo's $2.5-million Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel opened Oct. 27 and features 66 figures mostly of endangered animals ranging from Sumatran tigers to dung beetles.

The carousel will help raise money for the zoo through ticket sales and sponsorships. Visitors can pay $3 for a ride, or if they're flush and feeling generous, get a plaque on it for $25,000.

The carousel spins around scenes of L.A., from Malibu to Hollywood, encompassing the region's spirit of diversity, said Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association president Connie Morgan.

The carousel took a year to make (in Ohio), then about a week to install in the zoo, plus several months of testing and safety inspections before its debut.

Because some donors believe "the imagination is endangered" (Morgan's words), there's at least one traditional figurine on the merry-go-round: a unicorn.

But maybe the best part of the carousel is the music: the Police, Janet Jackson, Amy Grant, Styx, and the Go Go's are some of the artists whose melodies will play. This is thanks to the energetic tastes of Jerry Moss , a lead donor who also happens to have co-founded A&M Records.

The zoo, which gets 1.5 million visitors each year, is home to 1,100 animals but focuses especially on saving the California condor, the mountain yellow-legged frog, and the peninsular pronghorn. (It's not too late for the unicorn , either.)

--Avni Nijhawan / image courtesy of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association

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