Here's a brief example of the unpredictable and wonderful experiences you can have at the Utica Zoo.

We drove there recently with a microphone to collect some natural animal sounds for our radio show, and ended up having a special relationship with the White-naped Cranes.

When we first arrived the cranes stayed in a remote sector of their enclosure, but as soon as I spoke to them, they wandered over right in front of me and began their signature call.

Mike Beck, the zoo's Director of Communications, looked at one of his zoo colleagues and they both mentioned how unusual it was--silent for most of the day and then, all of a sudden, they spoke up as if on cue.

Maybe they were telling me I wasn't welcome, to back off and stop invading their space. I'd like to think they were reaching out in a friendly manner, trying to bridge the gap between bird and man.

In any case, we turned the fantastic (and somewhat rare, according to the zoo) cry into a great on-air segment, in which callers tried to guess the sound.

The Utica Zoo is open six hours a day, 10:00am-4:00pm, 363 days a year, in addition to some entertaining special events. We've visited a number of times and each time we've seen or heard or learned something fun or new.

Our crane encounter occurred over the course of a 15-minute visit. If you do the math, you could probably have a number of memorable experiences in any given day, week, or month, with only a small expenditure of time.

Check out all the Utica Zoo has to offer.

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