Monday, February 17, 2014

Winter is a great time to visit the Zoo

If you are willing to brave the cold and snow, winter can be a great time for a roadtrip to a zoo providing for closeup views of animals without the summer crowds.  Many zoos are open to the public all year long, but have limited attendance during the winter months.  Often there are multiple indoor exhibits to enjoy along with the chance to see animals outdoors who don't mind frigid temps.  Our family uses our annual pass to go on several winter visits each year to our local zoo.  Just remember to pick a somewhat mild day, dress warmly, and if you are taking children along play it safe by being observant to how they are handling to weather conditions.  Have some fun and go on an arctic expedition to the zoo.

At our local zoo, the DETROIT ZOO, the polar bears are active when there is snow on the ground.  The zoo provides multiple heated indoor locations where you can view the bears, as well as an assortment of seals that are also native to the arctic climates, and while these areas are often crowded when the weather is warmer my kids normally have the run of the place.  This exhibit always has docents staffing it who LOVE the chance to talk with people and it is a great opportunity to have some nice conversations with these volunteers who have received training on educating the public about the animals on display.

There are plenty of animals on display outdoors even when snow is on the ground.  We have seen our best views of the tiger at the Detroit Zoo on winter visits.  You wouldn't think that Lions from Africa or Kangaroos from Australia would be out in the cold, but we've seen them outside during winter trips as well.

If standing outdoors when the temps are low isn't your thing as long as you're willing to do a brisk walk between buildings there are often plenty of things to occupy your time and attention indoors at zoos.  Here are a few things to do inside at the Detroit Zoo:

The Giraffe House is heated, open and has benches to sit on.  You can get up close to these gigantic creatures with a much better view than what you can see outdoors during the warmer months.  You really don't understand how tall these animals are until you stand up right next to one.

I don't believe many people realize their is an indoor Rhino Exhibit at the Detroit Zoo as it is always empty when we visit.  It provides nice views of the animals from a heated gallery, plus some cool benches to sit down and take the load off.

The Reptile House is in the middle of the grounds and a nice break to get out of the cold between the long walk between the indoor exhibits at the rear of the zoo and those at the front.  It is normally empty of people when we have visited in the winter and kept at a tropical humid temperature making it a very comfortable place to be on a cold day.  The real bonus though is that the snakes are always very active when we've stopped in on our snow day visits compared to the summer months when the crowd noise tends to send them hiding in their exhibits.

Other warn and comfy nooks you can visit during a winter trip to the Detroit Zoo include the exotic butterfly and bird house, otter exhibit, amphibian center, chimpanzee/gorilla display, meerkat and leemur building, and the penguin display.

Going stir crazy in your house, maybe a winter roadtrip to a zoo is just the ticket to get out and about.  Make sure you contact the zoo before you go to confirm their winter hours (which normally are normally different than during the peak months) and that they are actually open the day you want to go.  Check to see if the zoo has any special events going on during the winter too as part of your trip planning.  For example the Detroit Zoo has several WILD WINTER WEEKENDS with special themed activities going on during those events.  

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