From hanging around the ape house to strolling through the reptile exhibit, everyone loves the zoo! Studying animals up close and enjoying God’s creation go hand in hand during beautiful weather. But did you know that most zoos offer extracurricular activities as well that will blow your socks off?
If you have animal lovers in your family sign them up for an educational or camp experience they will long remember. Look for zoo’s backstage educational adventures, wildlife sleepovers and scout troupe badges. Pop over to your local zoo’s website to see what they offer. Below are some fun programs to look for that many larger zoos present:
Backstage Adventures-If your child has ever dreamed of being a zookeeper they can now work side by side with zoo workers as they care for penguins, kangaroos or even snakes! There may be a fee.
Connections Classes -Bring your homeschool class to the zoo and experience hands-on learning utilizing their live animals, artifacts, and bio-facts. Download their online educator’s tools before you go! These are awesome and very affordable for only a few dollars.
Zoo Camp– where children can explore animals and nature through fun activities, animal encounters, games, art, and science investigation. It usually runs daily for one week for 6 hours. There is a fee.
Zoo Intern Quest for high school juniors and seniors is a program for teens interested in pursuing careers in the life sciences (biology, zoology, human or veterinary medicine, wildlife management, botany, etc.) This is an amazing opportunity to learn from experts! Students learn about conservation, pathology, genetics, veterinary medicine, animal behavior, reproductive physiology, ecology and horticulture. Scholarships of many kinds are also available!
Conservation Corps are hands-on programs for high school students interested in conservation, science, public speaking, and community service. One day a month students teach park guests about animals and share conservation stories by using artifacts, bio-facts, props and interactive games. A second day of the month they work on hands-on conservation projects that protect wildlife.
Have a family picnic or birthday sleepover! In the evening they offer fun craft activities and night hikes highlighting zoo’s nocturnal wildlife. Return for treats like ice cream socials. The next morning, wake up to a hot breakfast buffet, a morning hike and visit an animal exhibit, where you’ll see your craft given to some of the animals. This is a bit pricey, but worth it!
Preschooler’s “nature play groups” facilitate making friends with nature through play experiences, songs and meeting a weekly animal visitor. Kids will love this! There may be a fee.
Zoo World Patches are self-guided programs that enable groups to earn special scout badges by completing a series of fun, educational activities. Usually takes around 90 minutes to complete. You must purchase a leaders guide and small fee per patch.
Free Nature Clubs– Participate in your zoo’s monthly Nature Club activities to encourage your family to get outside and explore! According to the Bronx Zoo Educational Department, amazing studies have been done on the health and educational benefits of being in nature. It increases physical activity, cognitive abilities, and lessens ADD symptoms in children. And it’s FREE!
Explore your local zoo or schedule a stop during vacation. It will enrich your children’s health and education and while adding to summer time fun!