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Archive for the ‘Brookfield Zoo’ tag

November 2nd, 2011 at 5:00 am

Going to the Zoo, Part Two

In a recent post, we talked about how you can make the most of a visit to the zoo with young children. Today, I continue my interview with Rebecca Bearman, Lead Keeper of Program Animals at Zoo Atlanta.

Becky recommends that you plan ahead and look for the familiar. “Kids always like the animals they recognize the best,” she said. Check out a book or two about animals before your visit. (See recommendations below.)

Don’t bring food to feed the animals. “You should never feed animals at the zoo,” said Becky. “Each one is on a diet designed especially for that animal to keep it healthy. Additional food could be very harmful.”

Safety is the number one priority at the zoo — for the visitors, the keepers and the animals. “Be aware of where your child is at all times,” said Becky. New walkers who are out of the stroller for even a short time can be at particular risk. “Most zoos have double barriers between the patrons and the animals, but some of the outside barriers are easy for toddlers to squeeze through. Stay on marked paths and don’t let your children climb on barriers.”

In addition to the fun of seeing real, live animals, many zoos have added attractions. “Some zoos, like ours, have educational shows that are scheduled at various spots and times around the zoo,” said Becky. “Others zoos have added playgrounds or water parks. These attractions may have additional fees. It’s best to discuss a family decision in advance and make sure your kids understand your time and money constraints before each visit.”

We have two great zoos in Chicago. The Brookfield Zoo is wonderful, but I always preferred the smaller, more manageable Lincoln Park Zoo when my kids were very small. Check out this list of top zoos for kids (it’s called a top 10 list, but the article covers 25 kid-friendly zoos). Most have terrific websites, so do a search before you go.

And don’t let the chilly weather keep you away. Many zoos are open year around and have special programming for the season, especially around the holidays. Here in the Windy City, for example, the Lincoln Park Zoo hosts ZooLights from Thanksgiving through January 1.

Some related picture book recommendations:

Mr. Peek and the Misunderstanding at the Zoo, by Kevin Waldron

My Heart is Like a Zoo, by Michael Hall

photo credits: Becky and cocktoo at Zoo Atlanta by SDB; Brookfield Zoo by Jodi Glenn Fox

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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