During the warm and blissful summer months, many of us plan to take our children on various outings to see different city zoos. If you're visiting an animal haven in a different city or right here at home, there's so much adventure out there to explore and learn! You are out and about, and so are many other families and their children enjoying the warm, school-free days visiting the lovely and exotic animals at the zoo that you're at. With this in mind, I have compiled a list of various safe and fun ways to keep your children safe, engaged and in your sight while enjoying the culture and habitats of our beautiful earth's creatures.
Every zoo has their set of rules and guidelines for their patrons to follow which can be found on their websites or the cities' sites. Make sure to do your homework so you'll know up front if there are particular feeding areas where animal interaction is possible and if there are specific times for events. Some of the smaller zoos don't offer animals presentations, so it's always best to check first.
Most zoos have the same or similar rules such as no balloons, do not deviate from the sidewalks and no pets, outside of service animals. Review the rules with your little ones beforehand so they have a firm grasp, or as much as possible at their age, that they can't pick the flowers or the leaves from the lovely trees to feed the animals - but there is a giraffe exhibit that allows crackers at 2 pm.
Dress both you and your child in bright colors, preferably your child’s favorite color. Matching shirts is one of those steps that will help you to see your baby quickly and easily in a crowd should the little fellow get a step or two ahead of you because of excitement.
Your Information Tag
Make sure to put a small, waterproof (laminated) card on the inside of your child’s shoe with all of your information and a picture of you and your baby on it. Slipping this tag on the inside of his shoe is purely precautionary should you become separated. Your cell phone number, name and your child’s name.
We have colored whistles to wear around our necks when we go to the zoo or other public places, even the beach. Practice with them at home, and in the yard so the kids know exactly what to do when they hear it.
It could be as simple as "stop" or have them do a quick 360 to see where you are and go back to you.
If there's going to be more than one adult, assign each child to one of the adults and make sure everyone knows who they're assigned to. The adults need to know which child or children will be their responsibility and each child needs to know as well.
Print out a couple of maps of the zoo and plot your trail around to the animals he wants and the most efficient way to navigate the zoo. Mark the bathrooms and rest areas. Find any places to get a snack or places that you can feed the individual animals and mark them, too.
I am a photo fanatic, and it drives my family crazy, but make sure to have plenty of pictures on your phone of you and your children together before you leave the house, at the entrance of the zoo and with a zoo attendant.
Make sure to meet at least one attendant when you arrive. I do this everywhere I go. I want to make sure I leave an impression on someone at the facility. The zoo officials see a lot of visitors on a daily basis but make sure to stop, introduce your family, say something memorable and ask their name. Not only is it a safety measure for you, but it's just a friendly thing to do.
Make sure to talk to your funny little fellow about performing his magic show for the animals. The animals at the zoo may see this as teasing, so it's important to talk to him about treating the zoo just as he would be visiting Aunt Clara's house during the holidays. He's excited, but the animals don't understand.
Engage Your Child’s Inner Tour Guide
This is family fun for everyone! Tell your little guy to hold his map and your hand, and lead the way. You know he loves to be in charge, and this is his opportunity to shine!
A child safety harness is an excellent option for keeping your child safe at the zoo, and this option is useful for kids who don't want to hold mommy's hand. They usually come with a backpack that has an animal in or on it, so it fits with the zoo theme.
A zoo is a magical place where your little man gets to enjoy seeing the majestic creatures he only gets to see on the television. Before this day, he may have doubted secretly if some of them were real. This adventure is a time for learning and exploring, for him to experience and marvel at the different environments these animals live in. The gorillas that live in more tropical rain forest settings and the difference between their atmosphere and that of the other primates who may live in drier climates. It’s a fun, safe family friendly environment to learn all about the wonders of nature and the “mystical” animals that live with us.