Garanimals Blog

October 19th, 2011 at 12:37 am

Visting the Zoo with Young Children

The zoo is often a young family’s first “field trip.” I know it’s fall, but many zoos are open year around. Buying a year-long pass is often a great investment for families with young children, since attention spans can be short at this age and repetition is a good learning tool.

I interviewed Rebecca Bearman, Lead Keeper of Program Animals at Zoo Atlanta (and our older girl) to see if she had any good tips about visiting the zoo with young kids.

“My best advice is to start with your local zoo’s education department,” said Becky. “Most zoos have one and they often have programs specially designed for young visitors. For example, here at Zoo Atlanta, we have a program called “Mommy & Me” for children ages 2-3. This gives you and your children a chance to learn from an educator who knows how to teach to that age group.”

Typically, participants in the Zoo Atlanta Mommy & Me Program sign up for a three-week session, one hour each week (although single-week options are available). The program includes:

  • a guided walk through part of the zoo to see animals.
  • an up-close encounter with an education animal.
  • discovery stations featuring crafts, play time, and other great activities.

“We also offer a program for even younger children called ‘Stroller Cubs‘ for ages 0-2,” said Becky. “This is designed as learning experience for our youngest visitors to the zoo. Each zoo is different, but most special zoo programs require reservations and additional fees, so be sure to call the education department or check the zoo’s website for more detailed information.”

Make plans to visit a zoo near you soon with your little ones. If you do have a season pass, you may be able to use it at other zoos when you travel, since many offer free admission and/or discounts to other zoo members. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums keeps a list of participating zoos.

Next week, will see look at some Halloween animals. Then, on November 2, we’ll get some more great tips from our favorite zoo keeper about what to see and do with your young family at the zoo.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.


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