Us oldies forget what it is like to see something for the first time but for littlies, every experience is a new experience. Taking your kids to the zoo lets you watch the child-like wonder dancing in their eyes as they see their favourite picture-book characters come alive for the first time. Living, breathing animals are amazing, so let yourself be swept away by untamed nature.
2. See exotic animals on your home turf
Before visiting the zoo, exotic animals are just cartoon pictures to kids. Who knew that giraffes were so big they couldn’t fit on a television screen? Zoos present biodiversity and bring the world to a child’s fingertips. If it’s too expensive to take a trip to India to see the elephants, or to trek across the Savanna to glimpse the yawn of a lion, then really, zoo admission is a small price to pay.
3. Say goodbye to your screens for a day
Speaking of screens, going to the zoo is something we can all remember as children. Instead of seeing something through a phone, a zoo is first-hand. Going to the zoo is like organic parenting, enabling kids to undergo experiences without it being filtered. Back to basics: running around, feeding the ducks, being gobsmacked by nature; this explorative learning is what being a kid is all about.
4. The zoo is a living museum
While this statistic might break your kid’s heart, it’s important for parents to know that approximately one species becomes extinct every five minutes (according to theworldcounts.com). That’s where zoos come in. Zoos teach children about the urgency of conservation and animal care. At the same time as coming under criticism, there’s no denying that good zoos play a central part in protection and preservation.
5. Curiosity didn’t kill the cat
Zoos are cradles for curiosity. They encourage questions about habitat, physical features, characteristics. Ask your kids questions like: ‘Why do you think leopards have spots?’, ‘What sort of animal would you like to be and why is that?’, ’What is the coolest fact about animals you’ve learned?’. It can inspire kids to create stories of their own, an even richer world of play-pretend and imagination.
6. Learn some fancy-pants words
Books are great tools for learning, and so is life. Zoos are a way to increase your child’s vocabulary, with words such as ‘camouflage’, ‘conservation’, and more. It’s a chance for your kids to physically create the link between the word ‘snake’ and the creature itself. This comprehension can be expanded further through the animal encounters and behind-the-scenes interactive experiences on offer. Here, kids can learn from the zookeepers who spend every day with these animals, and maybe even feel for themselves what a lizard’s scales are like (but remember, gentle hands!).
7. Bring the whole family along
Taking a trip to the zoo is a family day that everyone can enjoy, even grandpa and grandma. It is a place that can leave anyone in awe, regardless of age. There are various different activities to enjoy throughout the day, including playgrounds, cafes, gift stores (to take home your own furry friend), and of course, the animals themselves! Walking around all day is also a great way to get in some bonus exercise.
8. More than just a zoo trip
If you’re going for the all out experience, check out your local zoo’s sleepover or safari night adventures. These outings often comprise of a classic kiwi barbecue, followed by a torch-lit escapade. Kids can hear the chilling roar of a lion, while in a perfectly safe environment. See the hippos wallow around in their sleep, and get a true ‘insider’ view of the animal kingdom.
9. Wow ‘em all with facts
Do some research and show off your epic parenting skills! While the older kids might not appreciate your plethora of animal facts, you can still wow the littlies. Promote some girl power with facts like lionesses do 90% of the hunting in the wild, or gross them out with the fact that elephants undergo menopause (maybe not, actually). Animals are pretty cool. Did you know that hippos can run faster than humans?
10. Encourages kids to care
Creating a love of nature in your kids encourages them from a young age to be compassionate towards the world around them. To have empathy (we still cry in animated animal movies; Bambi was scarring), to exercise care when holding an animal (and when around other children), and to take care of the environment, learning that even the simple act of dropping rubbish can endanger an animal’s life, as we can see with the excessive amounts ending up in the ocean and killing marine life