We have an awesome zoo that's only about 20-30 minutes away. We've had a pass for the past several years. It's getting time to renew our membership again and I was debating whether or not to renew it. The exhibits don't really change, except for the occasional new babies that are born. I went through some old pictures and came up with why I love the zoo.
First, it gets us outside and we get some exercise while having fun. I tend to be a homebody, so it makes me get outside and lets the kids work off some energy.
The kids learn new things. There are signs about each animal at the exhibits, as well as wandering zoo personnel to answer questions. At certain times of the day (weather permitting), a zoo keeper will bring out animals for the kids to look at, touch, and ask questions about.
Bernardo hates, absolutely hates, touching things that are messy/slimy/dirty/feel weird. At preschool he refused to do a craft with shaving cream because of how it felt on his hands. Rough clothes are out and there are days I still have to cut tags off of certain clothes. He loves playing with Play-Doh, but he doesn't like getting it out of the container. However, he loves animals and the zoo. He's willing to try new things and to touch the animals, even the ones that feel weird.
He is also starting to read a lot more, so we practice looking at the map and figuring out where we are. I stink at directions and map reading, so I'm trying to make sure they are better at it than I am.
Higgins gets to learn first hand that baby animals drink milk from their mommies, that the baby is not in fact licking the other animal's weenie. (See baby zebra picture below.)
It gives them the chance to learn and see first hand the animals they see on Wild Kratts and learn about in school. They've been able to feed a giraffe, as well as touch an owl, alligator, turtle, and a few snakes.
If you haven't been to your local zoo in awhile, go check it out! It's a fun way to teach the kids about animals and to work in some walking so they are tired for you later.