If you never made it to the zoo last summer, how about going now? School holidays or winter weekends are perfect times to make the trip.
Most of the outdoor spaces are open regardless of the weather (the animals don’t leave in the wintertime!). Otherwise, many zoos have indoor exhibits, so even if the weather is inclement, you and the kids will be able to see a lot of wonderful animals.
The advantages of planning a trip to the zoo in the fall or winter are that crowds are generally smaller and so it is easier to navigate. Some zoos have reduced rates in the off season.
Before You Go
Visit the zoo’s website before you go and talk to your kids about what they want to see. If they have their hearts set on seeing a particular animal, make sure the zoo houses it and that the exhibit is open.
Read up on the animals you will see, or find them on the Internet. Everyone will have a richer experience if they know a little about the zoo’s residents.
Study the map of the zoo and plan an itinerary. Some zoos are small and manageable but others, such as New York ’s Bronx Zoo and the San Diego Zoo, are large and cannot be absorbed in a single visit.
Tips for Enjoying the Zoo
Remind your kids that the animals deserve respect, which means no loud noises or teasing. The kids should not climb on the railings or walls, or run madly along the paths. Explain that they don’t want to annoy the other zoo visitors, and the especially they don’t want to disturb the animals.
Take advantage of the signs posted near the animal enclosures. Most zoos have put a lot of work into providing attention-grabbing information about the animals, reptiles, birds, and sea life they house.
Only feed the animals that the zoo allows. These beasts are usually in the petting zoo, and food for hand-held feeding is supplied by vending machines. Don’t bring your own animal food to the zoo.
When You Get Home
When you get home, talk about what you saw. Encourage your kids to find answers to any questions they might have. Laugh and exclaim about the amazing animals you saw.
Zoos are interested in educating us about conservation and the environment we share with the earth’s other living things. Who knows, your holiday trip to the zoo may give birth to a future naturalist or conservationist!