This week my kids and I got to experience our first field trip since moving to Iowa. Granted, we went to the zoo because my cousin and her boys were in the area, but it was an educational field trip nonetheless.
The Blank Park Zoo located in Des Moines, IA is the only accredited zoo in the state of Iowa. The zoo first opened in 1966 and since then has under gone numerous renovations. The land that the zoo sits on was originally Fort Des Moines and donated by the federal government for recreational purposes. The community of Des Moines truly rallied behind the idea of building a zoo in their town. Countless fundraising activities happened to make this zoo a reality.
Upon arriving at the zoo I was pleasantly surprised to see the parking lot nearly empty. I was excited at the prospect of nearly having the zoo to ourselves. After we paid, gathered ourselves, and plotted our course on the map we were off. Initially we were going to head straight out of the doors to the main part of the zoo but my 5 year old spotted something he wanted to take a closer look at. What he had found was an amazingly real-to-life decorated passage of walkways and caves. Around each corner was something new to learn about, whether it be about an animal, habitat, or an ecosystem. This path took us past red pandas, fruit bats, cockroaches, salt water aquariums, an indoor water fall, and much more. I know we were all in awe of everything there was to look at and explore. In particular I will not quickly forget the amazement of being up close and personal with fruit bats as they feasted and flew around. They are simply amazing creatures!! Also, in the aquarium portion of this pathway is a nursery. The day we visited there were baby jelly fish and baby clown fish on display. The sheer impact of these babies was realized when I saw their grown counterparts in other tanks. Let me just say, that I am shocked at how much a tiny jelly fish can grow. Nearly invisible in their nursery tank, the adult versions were enormous.
From the discovery center area we decided to venture to the Australian Outback. Let me begin by saying, I never expected the kind of exhibit that we encountered. In the Blank Park zoo outback you can get up close and personal with the animals on display. While they ask that you stay on the path through this exhibit, the animals are free to roam wherever they want; even on the path where you are walking. My kids and I got to stand and observe a wallaby within about 2 feet. Amazing! It was quite an experience to be able to mingle with free roaming wild animals that originate from another continent.
After I reluctantly left the Australian Outback we set off to explore the rest of the park. We got to see a tiger, lions, Japanese macaques, gibbons, giraffes, and many more animals. I must admit though, if you are looking for a large zoo to explore this is not the best option for that adventure. When you are with young children who look at an animal for a minute or so and are off to the next exhibit, this zoo will take you no more than 2 hours to fully experience. However, if you are looking for a quiet zoo experience without the crowds this is hands down a place you should consider. All in all, my cousin and I and all of our kids had a fun and educational day at the Blank Park Zoo.
Through the end of this year the Des Moines visitor's bureau is offering a coupon book for area businesses. Download the coupons (via pdf) to receive a coupon for $1 off a child's admission price to the zoo. It might be only $1, but every little bit helps!!
|Koi Pond at feeding time.|
|My youngest 2 petting an adorable goat.|
|Visit Live The Adventure for more Field Trip Friday experiences!|