Autumn is a great time to visit a children’s zoo, given the number of special programs geared toward kids. For instance, the Henry Vilas Zoo has trick-or-treating, a fun house and music. Fort Wayne Zoo has a mystery maze, meet-Broomhilda-the-Witch, a petting zoo, pumpkin bowling, carnival games and a haunted train ride. The National Zoo in Washington DC has haunted trails, trick-or-treating, animal encounters and festive decor. Your family can get fall discounts at the National Aquarium in Baltimore ($8 instead of $29.95) and kids are free at the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park for the entire month of October (down from $26/$18). The Indianapolis Zoo also reduces their prices during the month of November. Additionally, “Crowds are down and animals are more active due to cooler temperatures,” says Allen Nyhuis, co-author of “America’s Best Zoos,” a guide book for families.
The top children’s zoo, according to Child Magazine, is the 56-acre Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Florida, where your child can see 1,614 exotic animals. The Australian-themed petting zoo lets the kids feed pet kangaroos and wallabies, mimic sheep herding and visit a water-play area with animal fountains and statues. Your kids will love the Safari Africa exhibit, featuring giraffes, elephants, zebras, warthogs, bongos and African ground hornbill birds. The “Spirit of the Skies” show features high-flying hawks, bald eagles, vultures and owls. Kids can hold lorikeets and feed them nectar, pet koi fish, ride on a camel, feed sting rays and act at a summer camp. With 35 educational programs designed to leave lasting impressions on youngsters, you can be sure your kids will never forget this trip to the zoo. For more information, visit www.lowryparkzoo.com.
Child Magazine’s second-favorite children’s zoo is the San Diego Zoo in California. According to their survey, 95% of San Diego’s zoo keeper staff holds degrees in zoology, so you know any question your little one has will be answered. A special 30-day exhibit lets you peek at nurseries containing sick or weak baby animals and learn about veterinary care at the zoo. A petting area lets kids touch goats, sheep and miniature horses. Shows include a “Dr. Zoolittle” zany science show and “Bugtown,” which showcases diving beetles, water bugs, katydids and other insects. Here, you will behold one of the nation’s most diverse collection of animals, while getting special glimpses of captive-bred pandas, okapis, gazelles, Indian gharial crocodiles, Visayan warty pigs, swimming polar bears and tigers. The best part is half the proceeds of your tickets will go toward animal conservation! For more information, visit www.sandiegozoo.org.
The Cincinnati Zoo is another ideal children’s zoo for your family to experience. Here you can check out the award-wining “World of the Insect” exhibit, the animatronic “Dino Zone” exhibit, the five-acre baby animals display (containing Dexter cattle, Jacob’s sheep, mini donkeys, pot-bellied pigs), the Otter Creek underwater viewing area and the Discovery Center (with animal sculptures, climb-in tortoise shells and rope spider webs). The second-oldest zoo in the country offers “Ask Me” stations where kids can get their questions answered and they will enjoy Zoo Babies special events, where they can see the newest additions to the zoo. “We’re an oasis in the center of Cincinnati for parents and children to escape from their busy lives and come spend time with each other,” says Gregg Hudson, the zoo’s president. For more zoo info, visit www.cincinnatizoo.org.
Beth Kaminski is the co-author of Curing Your Anxiety And Panic Attacks which detailed end panic attacks as well as tips on the various anxiety attack medications available at anxietydisordercure.com.