Zoo provides a break from bustle

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WAIKIKI -- Sure, the beach is the big draw on Oahu. But why not make the Honolulu Zoo part of the vacation itinerary, too?

Located in the heart of Waikiki, it's within walking distance of nearly all hotels. Kids love it, it doesn't cost much to get in, and while it certainly isn't the San Diego Zoo, it offers a respite from the constant activity beyond its borders.

The zoo, located on a 42-acre site at the corner of Kapahulu and Kalakaua avenues, opened in 1915 at a different site, moving to its current location in 1948.

A stroll along the zoo's meandering asphalt path would be pleasant even if animals didn't populate the park. But inside the attraction, you'll find lush foliage, uncrowded walkways and fascinating wildlife.

Flamingos are the first animals to greet you. Stroll to the right, and you'll find elephants and various species of monkeys.

The reptile house has lizards and several large snakes -- the only ones in Hawaii; none exists in the wild on the islands.

Other highlights include giant tortoises and giraffes and zebras that wander the 10-acre African savannah area. An aviary with native birds is a peaceful place to rest and observe.

Don't miss the children's petting area, stocked mostly with farm animals.

Fast food and shaved ice are available in the zoo, but it's more fun to picnic on the grass in the shade of a banyan tree.

On summer evenings, local bands and other island entertainment create a festive atmosphere.

The zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Go early for the best animal viewing.

Admission is $6 for adults, $1 for children accompanied by a paying adult.

Inquire about Zoo by Moonlight tours for a look at nocturnal creatures.

Arranging a meeting in Honolulu? Ask about overnight stays, parties, behind-the-scenes tours, children's activities and private programs.

For more information, call (808) 971-7195.

To contact reporter Katherine Nichols, send e-mail to [email protected].

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