Continuing with Road Trip Week 2010, Sarah C. takes us to the Zoo.:
Confession, I love the NC Zoo. DH kindly gave me a membership for Christmas many years ago and we’ve nearly had a continuous membership since (okay, so we slipped up for a few months after D‘s birth but that’s understandable, right?). Earlier in the month we took D for his first visit. The weather ended up being cooler than we expected but we were too
excited to let that stand in the way. Truthfully, I think there are some advantages in going during cooler weather – less crowds and the animals aren’t hiding in the shade napping.
The Zoo is HUGE – it encompasses 500 acres “making it one of the largest ‘natural habitat’ zoos” in the nation. The layout is split into two continents – North America and Africa. You can travel between them to view the animals via the 5 miles of paths and/or taking the tram. For the most part, I’ve always walked except at 6 months pregnant when I finally gave in to a few moments of rest taking the tram from North America to Junction Plaza. All of the paths are nice and paved. They made for easy walking and pushing of the stroller during this recent visit. Of course, you can also limit yourself to just one continent if you like and explore the other on your next visit. This is very easily done during the warmer months when both Zoo entrances are open so you could park and enter closest to the continent you are interested in. Check the Zoo website (see below) for a map to plan your visit ahead of time.
If your child has a favorite animal (or perhaps will pick a new one during the visit?), you are sure to find it here. The NC Zoo features over 200 species. A few personal favorites:
- Wilhelm, the polar bear. Before arriving at the NC Zoo, he was part of a circus in Mexico and was abandoned in Puerto Rico. Not exactly ideal for a cold weather bear. The NC Zoo has given him a wonderful new home and, when he’s in the mood, he has a lot of fun showing off for the crowd. Definitely one to catch the attention of children young & old.
- Wilhelm’s neighbors, the seals and sea lions, can put on quite the show as well.
- The river otter. Very playful and active.
- The chimpanzees. Whether they are running around or sitting still can be quite fascinating to watch and they will come right up to the glass to watch you back.
- The elephants. The opening of the Watani Grasslands Reserve with its elephant trail has made it easy to get closer to these magnificent creatures.
- The giraffes. April – October visitors can visit the Acacia Station Giraffe Deck to get a close up view. Check the website for time restrictions and fee.
Additional fun for kids:
Garden Friends Playground is open year round and features a number of garden inspired sculptures for kids to climb and slide on – squash, leaves, spider webs, etc.
kidZone open April – October features activities and animal encounters for young visitors.
Other details to know before you go:
Food and beverages are available for purchase in designated areas in the Zoo. You can pack a lunch, but all picnics are restricted to designated areas off of each parking area outside the Zoo. Check the Zoo Rules (link below) for all rules and restrictions.
If you plan to visit more than once during the year, consider a membership. It will save you money and also gain you free or discounted access to more than 150 other zoos and aquariums including the 3 NC aquariums.