A trip to the zoo can be more than a fun time, it can be a great way to teach your children new vocabulary words, about animal habitats, the food they eat, and the problems animals face in the wild. We are proud members of the Cincinnati Zoo and try to go at least a few times each month. We are anxiously awaiting the public appearance of Fiona, just like everyone else in the US! On top of going to the Cincinnati Zoo as much as we can, we also enjoy checking out other zoos in the Midwest. We have explored the Detroit Zoo, Binder Park Zoo, Potter Park Zoo, Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park, Lincoln Park Zoo, and most recently the Indianapolis Zoo!
We started off the day discussing the words “compare and contrast” and I gave my kids an “assignment” to notice how the Cincinnati Zoo and Indianapolis Zoo are alike and different. Immediately, they made a comparison…both zoos have a sea lion exhibit! At this exhibit, we learned that Ray, the male sea lion, did not have a right eye. We learned that he lost it to a fisherman. This opened up a discussion between my children and the zoo employee about how humans can put animals in danger and how zoos help save and care for wild animals.
We went to the next exhibit and my children pointed out a difference, the Indianapolis Zoo has dolphins! We went into a fantastic viewing area where there was glass around and above us. We watched the dolphins chase each other and one even rubbed it’s belly and back on the glass. Next, we went to a dolphin show where we learned more about dolphins and watched them do tricks to earn fish. We decided not to sit in the splash zone and enjoyed the show from a nice dry spot. The show did not disappoint.
Next, we took a gondola ride over the park. I had a brief moment of panic when I thought an orangutan had escaped an exhibit, but then quickly realized the ride circled the International Orangutan Center and the orangutan, named Nicky, was enjoying the view perched up high in the sky in part of the exhibit. After the ride we entered the ground floor of the exhibit where my children quickly learned the word “regurgitate” thanks to the orangutan named Lucy.
We spent our day checking out the lemurs, giraffes, elephants, snakes (they learned the term venomous), the meerkats, and more. Food and drinks are not allowed in the zoo, but we stopped at a café and grabbed a bite to eat. (You can pack a lunch and eat it outside of the park in a designated area and then get back into the zoo.) Before we left, we made a stop at the splash pad. I did not dress my kids in their swimsuits, but they happily soaked their clothes while cooling off.