Thursday, February 18, 2010 4:42:48 PM MST


Your children will be more engaged, have more fun and learn more on their trip to the zoo with these easy suggestions.  Pick a few that work for you and have a great time!

A Little Preparation Goes a Long Way:  Introduce your children to a few unique animals and their behaviors while enjoying favorite books, nature shows and DVDs.  Pointing out that a giraffe's long legs helps her eat from the tall branches and a hippo's short legs help him cool off in shallow water, or how a monkey's long arms are perfect for swinging from branch to branch are bite size morsels of information a young child can easily grasp.  Then, when you get to the zoo ask your child about things they notice about how each animal looks and behaves.  You'll be amazed at the the information they absorb and the details they observe. 

Special Children's Activities at the Zoo:
 
Check online, call ahead or ask when you arrive for any animal shows, zookeeper talks or other special events happening that day.  They are more frequent than you might imagine and the up-close view of the animlas adds another level of excitement to the visit.  Visiting the animals during feeding time is fun, too and adds another teaching opportunity as animal diets and eating habits are so diverse.

Your Child Can Choose Some Special Animals to Visit:  Does your little one like animals that swim?  Large animals, or small furry ones?  Have your child pick some favorites before you go, and watch the excitement build.  Visit their favorites at the beginning of the trip, in case you run out of time or tired kids make it necessary to cut short your visit.

"A You're Adorable" from Kidsongs: Baby Animal Songs

Spring and Baby Animals:  Everyone loves baby animals!  Spring and early summer give plenty of opportunities to see them.  Due to different gestation cycles there is actually quite a long window to see baby animals at the zoo.  Looking online or calling ahead will let you know which habitats to visit to see the newest and cutest. 

Child as Co-Pilot:  If you children are old enough, give them their own map to help find the way around the zoo.  Your little ones can help choose the next destination and help keep track of your location.  You can usually print out a map from the zoo website or pick one up at the entrance.  You and your child can highlight the places on your "must see" list.

Capture the Memories:  Bring along a camera or purchase a disposable one if you forgot yours.  Pictures of your children doing things with you mean the most later on.  Don't be shy about asking someone to take a picture of you and your child together.  If you have a video camera, do a brief interview with your child about their visit to the zoo.

To prepare for your zoo visit you might enjoy watching Kidsongs: A  Day With the Animals, which has many scenes filmed at the Los Angeles Zoo.  Another favorite, Kidsongs: Baby Animal Songs, is filled with dozens of baby animals.  The web site Wikipedia is a great resource for information about animals and the DK books have great photographs and interesting facts about a wide variety fo creatures.