How to make a zoo interesting and instructive

All kids like zoo but parents may not. My family was always reluctant to discover the zoo in a the city, due to bad experiences or constant disappointment. Animals were stinky, too much walk, noisy people and parking difficulty. The worst thing was most of animals were asleep or didn’t want to show nice positions for photo. We visited several times the big zoo in Shanghai, hoping to see the panda, who was asleep or hidden.That’s why we put ReidPark Zoo at the bottom of our exploration list.

At the entrance, Claire began to hold her nose in front of one big poster of the elephants’ family. She didn’t want to see elephants and believed that they were always dirty and hostile.

All turned out a different but amazing experience. That was a big discovery.

Compared with the big zoo in Shanghai, Reidpark zoo is a small playground. There are still kinds of animals, distributed in three different zones. Each area is big enough, not for allowing hundreds of people, but to let the animals enjoy their freedom. The peacocks were walking across paths, curious to peek the visitors. The big rhinoceros and two gazelles are put together although they are never friends. Nice giraffes. Children can feed them at a certain time with small carrots. Claire was excited to feed one but she finally was stunned by his big black tongue. She was also allowed to pet a bearded dragon, which looks like a big lizard.

Yes, she had lots of fun. And we two parents too. For the first time, notices on panels in front of each area attracted us and became interesting. Instead of describing the information of the species, the staff tried to make the knowledge simple and funny. For example, they invented curious questions which were followed by simple response, as if we were led by a friendly teacher. At the area of rhinoceros, we learned why it loves the mud. In the bear area, it is written that “a fed bear is a dead bear”, with funny images showing the danger to feed a bear. When we turned around, we encountered an other panel which said “do you want to treat the bear?” Certainly not, because we just learned the risk of danger.

Children can easily be amused only by the view of animals, but if they happen to learn a little each time, it will be a better discovery. They are prone to be tried after several stops. Parents needed a rest too. In the middle of the zoo, there was a learning center. I wasn’t ready to enter this building, believing that it would be as boring as other learning centers that we visited. We just walked in to seek a shield of sunshine. We never could guess  that there were so many activities for kids. Claire got a face painting and chose to have an elephant on her cheek. Other kids were making animal masks or drawing. Knowledge can be tiring but activities never.

Of course, children cannot remember all that they have seen. By focusing some funny information and interesting games, they love animals a litter more and forget all the stinky things.

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