My kids have a routine when it comes to our summer activity jar: They rummage around until they find the “play with friends” activity, pout when their friends are busy, then continue to pick through the activities until they find one that they like. Luckily this week the activity they picked second was “Go to the zoo”. Most days this would mean a trip to the Peterborough Zoo, our lovely local zoo. With Mr. P on holidays, we decided to head to the Bowmanville Zoo instead.
Located 45 minutes east of Toronto (about 90 minutes from our home in cottage country), this small, privately owned zoo is the perfect size for my family. With a splash pad and play structure for when the kiddos get too hot (or sadly, too bored) from visiting all of the animals, there really is something for everyone — except for the toddler who all of a sudden is terrified of large animals.
Our zoo morning was picture perfect: The kids loved feeding the miniature goats and cows, petting the alpacas (one spit on Mr. P, and yes, it was hilarious). They laughed at the baboons and lemurs and had a blast in the splash pad. But as soon as we got close to the elephant and other large animals, Gillian lost her mind. And for a kid that generally shows no fear, her epic freak out when we tried to get close to the lions, camels and even the yaks was surprising. So while Isaac rode a camel, toured the wolf enclosures, watched the lions get fed, the tapir wallow and the elephant give itself a dust bath, I hung out with the miniature goats and my daughter. I’m sure we went through $10 of animal snacks because she wanted to make sure each and every baby goat was well fed (it was absolutely adorable). I admit that I was disappointed to not get to ride the camel or watch the lions having lunch, but seeing Gillian befriend every tiny farm animal was worth the price of admission ($57 for our family of four, in case you were wondering).
What is your favourite zoo? What are your children’s favourite animals?