November 20, 2017

Spring Break: Birds, Bears, and Yes, Mayan Ruins, at the Palm Beach Zoo

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After tennis lessons this morning, we showered up and headed north to the Palm Beach Zoo. It was a cute zoo, somewhere between a petting zoo (goats, sheep) and a full-scale zoo (elephants, monkeys). While the Palm Beach Zoo had none of these animals, we did get pretty close to several alligators, a jaguar, black bears and some river otters. We even got to walk through a replica of Mayan ruins!

When we first arrived we took in the “Wings Over Water” Bird Show, which my 20-month-old son absolutely loved. Lots of pointing and shrieking. We got to check out a bunch of birds, like a macaw, a king vulture and an eagle owl. Very educational, though to be honest, I can’t remember a single fact about any of the birds right now.

I love zoos because they’re such a great opportunity for learning. Plus, it helps that most kids just love animals, so it’s a pretty easy sell to get them to go to the zoo. There were lots of plaques at the Palm Beach Zoo with fun facts about the animals, along with images to easily pick out the different species. My six-year-old and I loved looking at the ducks and geese from Asia and figuring out which ones we were looking at based on the photos.

But there’s so much more to learn at the zoo beyond watching the animals and reading the plaques. In fact, the Palm Beach Zoo has a Night Owls Overnight Adventure program, which includes a personal night tour, snacks and breakfast (bring your sleeping bag!). This is a great way to get questions answered and for in-depth learning.

The Palm Beach Zoo also offers several family programs, like behind-the-scenes tours, an animal hospital tour and a Florida wildlife tour. Children’s workshops for kids ages 2 to 7 offer hands-on animal encounters, stories, crafts and zoo admission. Zoos across the country offer similar programs, so be sure to call ahead for the scoop before your next visit to the zoo.

What types of family programs does your local zoo offer? Do you do anything else to further enhance the educational experience for your kids?

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