Zoo Visits With Kids Tips and Tricks
(This article “Zoo Visits With Kids Tips and Tricks” is a reblog and was written especially for Kelloggs Chocos and MyCity4Kids.com. You can read the article at its original source at my parenting blog at MyCity4Kids.com here.)
6 months after my daughter was born, we moved to a locality and zoo was just a few kilometres away. The zoo offered a yearly membership at quite affordable price. The weather was breezy summer and we had an infant who liked staying out of the house. So as it happened, we took that membership and started going to the zoo regularly.
My initial motive behind going to the zoo was just to have a good time. However, our weekly visits started growing up on me. At first, it was me just trying to point out animals to my daughter. Later, it was me watching the animals in awe. There was something about them. Zebra’s stripes were so perfect and so were giraffe’s patches. It was fascinating to see blackbucks locking antlers and black swans rubbing heads. Macaws looked gorgeous but didn’t sound as lovely. Don’t get me even started on the swift and delicate movement with which even the biggest of the sharks swim.
The more I started getting spellbound by our visits to the zoo, the more I started to encourage my daughter for the same. So much so, today when we plan to go to the zoo, it is hard to find out who is more excited – my daughter or I!
But what is a field activity with a kid without its share of tantrums and screams and meltdowns! Especially with a field trip as elaborate as that to a zoo. Zoos are often big, there are lot of animals to be seen and lot of kilometres to be walked. Add to it sun shining overhead, hunger and tiredness and I constantly hovering over my daughter in an attempt to keep her safe, many a zoo visits have ended up becoming stressful for us. Since then I’ve learned from my mistakes. This is what I follow to make sure that our zoo visits remain minimum with drama and maximum with fun.
Zoo Visits With Kids Tips and Tricks
My Prep Work as a Parent
Before going to the zoo, I spend around 15 minutes in researching about it. I find out the basics such as timings, map, amenities and daily schedule. Even when I have already been to that zoo, I always find it helpful to check their website once. There might be information regarding an upcoming special event, some new-born cubs, some animal that has just been transferred from another zoo – all these things add in that little extra element to our field trip.
Setting the Agenda with My Daughter
Zoo has a lot to offer and therefore it is important that we prioritize as to which animals we will try seeing first. The others we see depending upon the time left on our hands.
We go to the zoo for my daughter so we let my daughter take the call on this one. We make a list together where I write which animals she would love to see for sure. Her favourites are lion cubs, cuddly foxes and naughty monkeys. I do try and encourage her to add a couple more to the list depending upon her latest experiences. She loved the macaws in the movie Rio, so we added macaws to our list that time. She read a book about owling, so we added owls to our list. However, I make sure that all the animals that we list are what she would want to see and not what I would want her to see. She will stay attentive in the day long zoo visit only when she is seeing what she is interested in. Forcing her to see what I want her to see will only turn out to be a disaster.
A Trail Mix for Her Hunger Pangs
A day before the visit, both my daughter and I prepare trail mix for ourselves. Trail mix is essentially a snack mix that is made out of dried fruits, dried nuts, something savoury and something sweet. My daughter chooses the nuts and fruits she wants in it. Her favourite trail mix is a mixture of makhane (popped foxnuts), pistachios, raisins and chocos. She fills some up in her pockets and snacks on it all through the visit day.
Making Her Own Discoveries
Our zoo visit means our daughter running here and there and us trying to run after her. She searches, explores, experiments and learns. There is something about animals that excites her and I have seen the same reaction in every kid that I have met. She loves mimicking them – she squeaks like a cockatoo, lazes like a bear and paddles like an otter. An animal movement means watching with eyes and mouth both wide open.
Except for us ensuring that she is safe, we don’t stop her from doing anything. It is her day to be wild and we let her be.
She also loves clicking pictures of whatever she finds interesting. It can be the lion or a bug or even trash. I often take a print out of these pictures and make them into her zoo journals.
My daughter also loves collecting things at the zoo. Once we found a feather of a budgie and that got her really thrilled. According to her, the budgie inside the enclosure left its feather for her as a gift. After that she spent the entire afternoon searching if other birds have too left feathers for her.
It’s Time to Go When She Tells So
There was a time when I had my own agenda in mind and would stay in the zoo till I as a parent decided about it. That often ended up with my daughter getting irritated and throwing tantrum, which in turn left us irritated. A wonderful fun day at the zoo ended up being a power tussle between us.
Now I realize that I have to respect her wish and her body’s limits as well. I try to take signals from my daughter as to if she is getting tired from her visit. As soon as she rolls her eyes for the first time or shows even the slightest signs of irritation, I know that is time for us to wrap our visit.
I love our zoo visits because they are all about unfettered happy childhood, about my daughter being the wildest that she can be, about KhuljayeBachpan. We love our zoo visits and try going there as much as we can!