Top Ten Tips for Visiting the Zoo

by Jessica on April 18, 2011

1. Be the first in line. In the morning the animals are energetic and the crowds are light. Often, the zookeepers are in and around the animal exhibits for morning visits and are thrilled to answer questions.

2. Consider visiting on an odd weather day. Rain early in the day means the crowds will be nonexistent, but the animals will be playful. The first sunny day after a cold winter, or first cool day after a long summer will get the animals moving as well.

3. Ask questions! Zookeepers love to talk about their jobs and their animals. Not only will they share interesting animal facts, but you can also learn the animals’ names and their favorite pastimes.

4. Check with the ticket counter for a schedule of special events. Animal feedings, shows, and keeper talks are a great addition to your zoo visit. Often these little treats are not advertised, so checking early in day can ensure that you can enjoy these extras.

5. Find out about extra expenses. Animal feedings and rides can be a great part of your zoo visit, but can also mean additional cash. You may need to budget both your time and your money to plan a perfect day.

6. Bring wipes and hand sanitizer. Zoo days are a dirty business. Most zoos offer petting areas for close up animal encounters, after which you will need wipes. Imagine this, your child is checking out a beautiful tiger when it lifts its leg and relieves himself all over her front. I’ve seen it happen, and trust me, you’re gonna want some wipes.

7. Bring a world map. I have a laminated, notebook sized world map that I like to keep clipped on my stroller. My older kids use the map to find the countries of origin for each animal. For younger kids, I draw a star on our hometown. Together we find the animal’s home country and discuss if it is near or far from our hometown. I love these little impromptu educational moments.

8. Give your child a camera or a pair of binoculars. Kids love to take pictures. Taking pictures at the zoo makes them an active participant along with the animals. Even if binoculars are not necessary, they still add an element of fun that enhances the whole experience.

9. Let your kids navigate. My kids love the power of a map. Just holding it in their hands makes them feel like Magellan. Let your kids choose the animals that they are most interested in seeing and navigate a path to those locales. Another sneaky learning opportunity!

10. Find a way to make the zoo educational and fun. Zoos are a great place for something I like to call “sneaky school”. As we stroll, I toss out little facts or questions about each animal hoping that the kids will pick up on the information without really knowing that they are learning. My kids also enjoy keeping an animal journal, which gives them a super fun way to learn more about the animals they encounter during our visit.
~See other great Top Ten Lists at Oh, Amanda~


Handwoven Dreams April 19, 2011 at 9:43 am

Jessica, thank you for your sweet comment! I LOVE the idea of taking a map to the zoo and letting the kids better see from where all the animals come. I also love the suggestion of taking binoculars!

Betsy (Eco-Novice) April 19, 2011 at 10:49 am

What a great list! My kids are too young to be trusted with a camera, but I love the idea of bringing binoculars and a world map. I love going to all kinds of places on slightly rainy days b/c no one is there. I wish I get to the zoo right at opening. Sadly, I arrive everywhere 1 hour later than planned.

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cherrylej April 19, 2011 at 12:25 pm

hi! thanks for visiting my site. your top ten is very timely because my husband and i will bring my daughter to the zoo on thursday for the first time, well at least i have some points to remember because i'm not a fan of zoo honestly :) have a great day!

ICStarzz April 19, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I love these tips!
Last time we went to the zoo it ended up lightly raining so we were all given tickets to come back another day. We decided rain wasn't going to kill us, and eventually it stopped. We were like almost the only people there, and had tickets for another visit! I thought that was pretty cool.
(Maine, if you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes 😉 lol )

Great post!


Tiffany @ NOH April 19, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Great tips! The map idea so that you can pinpoint the countries around the world is fabulous. Our little girl is 2.5 years old so she's just getting to the point where she can appreciate the learning more. But wow does she love the zoo! :)


Anne April 19, 2011 at 5:09 pm

A world map?!? That is a GREAT tip that I have never heard.
I am looking forward to resuming our zoo days now that the weather is getting nice!

Catz April 19, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Neat! I remember when my mom took me to the zoo when I was younger. Thanks for stopping by my blog, Jessica!

Skip'sMKGirl April 19, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Thanks for stopping by my blog, you have such great tips here! We have teenagers now but we checked out the local zoo one of our first weekends, I don't think you can ever grow out of it! Love the map idea and the weather tips. We went on one of the first sunny days here and the animals were all out enjoying the sun!

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