- Research ahead of time. I can’t stress this enough… the most important thing you can do to make sure that your trip is as interesting and educational as it can be is to research your zoo. Find out what they have to offer, and just as importantly, when they offer it. Most zoos will post a calendar of special educational events, so if someone has a particular interest in monkeys, or reptiles, look for a day when there’s an even planned around that animal.
- Map your walk. You want to make sure that you see everything you came to see, and you also want to make sure you hit things at the right time. If you plan on seeing the reptile handler do a Q and A session at 11:00, it would be a good plan not to be clear on the other side of the park at 10:45. So plan your route accordingly, and consult the research you did earlier. This will keep you from missing anything or wandering aimlessly.
- Show up early. You’ll beat the crowds, and you’ll get a chance to see some of the animals, like bears and tigers, at the time of day when they’re the most active.
- Don’t forget to pack. You’ll need comfortable shoes (zoos are big), sunscreen and hats. Check the weather report beforehand to see if you need anything else, like a raincoat. A trip to the zoo is an all day event and involves a lot of walking, so you want to be comfortable. Also, pack a lunch. Bringing your own lunch and snacks will help you avoid lengthy waits in line at the concession stands, as well as high prices.
- Keep in touch. Everything that happens at the zoo does not have to stay at the zoo. Many zoos have webcams that allow you to check in and visit with the animals you met on your trip. If a particular animal sparked your child’s interest, this is a great time to do more research on it. Visit the webcam and check out the zoo’s online resources, as well as checking out library books or watching videos about your child’s new animal interest.
Using these tips, you should have a productive and fascinating day at the zoo. And if you miss something, don’t worry; now that you’ve gone, you’re more familiar with the layout and activities, so you’ll be better able to plan your next trip!