As an educator teaching our future generations to love and respect our world is so important. They are the ones who will be making important decisions about this planet in years to come so teaching a sense of responsibility for our environment will go a long way to help shape the adults they will become. A day at Southwick’s Zoo in Mendon, MA was the perfect place to do this.
I was lucky enough to sit down with one of the owner’s of Southwick’s Zoo, Betsey Brewer. Her passion for conservation and commitment to animals (and educating the public) is evident as soon as she began talking. I learned more about the zoo in those few minutes than all the research I had done before our visit. Did you know that Southwick’s Zoo is privately owned? I had no idea prior to our visit. This means that when you visit the zoo, the money you spend goes directly to the care and upkeep of the animals they have. In fact, they rely on your attendance to keep the zoo running! Even without the public grants given to other zoos (state and nationally funded) they still give generously to conservation efforts! Their animals are important and they take amazing care of them, earning the Southwick’s Zoo accreditation with the Zoological Association of America.
When you walk around the zoo and see the exhibits you’ll notice that you are very close to the animals. I’ve been to zoos all over the country and I’ve never been close enough to look into the eyes of so many animals. Southwick’s Zoo does this on purpose, knowing if you are close enough to feel a connection with these animals you will care more about what’s happening to them in the wild. Look into the eyes of a tiger and tell me you don’t instantly want to do all you can to save these amazing creatures, I know I did.
There are so many mini-adventures you can have while at the zoo. My kids had a blast saving the animals in Rainforest Conservation Maze and riding the train. There are also some small rides they can ride while taking a break from the exhibits! We absolutely loved the Skyfari Sky Ride! You get a bird’s eye view of the zoo while looking down over various exhibits. We rode twice! There is also a zipline that looked like a blast (we were having too much fun exploring!). Take an adventure through the deer forest and feed the deer! It’s an experience that can’t be missed.
There were so many different species to check out while walking the zoo. They say leave yourself four hours to see everything but we spent the whole day. We had the best interactions with a Mangabey Monkey. He kept coming over to where we were standing and “laughing” with us. Being so close made my children feel like they were actually playing with this little guy. On the ride home, we did a little extra research to find out more about this little guy. The educational experience fostered by this interaction lasted well past our visit. Make sure you take some time to visit and view the white rhinos! They are beautiful. The Southwick’s Zoo offers Rhino encounters and highly recommends them.
There are plenty of places to grab lunch and snacks, even a brand new full-service restaurant attached to the zoo. Galliford’s Restaurant and Tavern serves classic New England comfort food while overlooking the zoo. If you’re looking for something quick, you can also bring in your own lunch and set up at one of the many picnic spots!
There is still plenty of time this summer (or even this fall) to head over to Southwick’s Zoo and have an adventure with your family. You won’t be disappointed! You’ll learn so much about each of the animals in their care while connecting to them up close. I can honestly say I fell in love with this zoo. Even with all of our travels, I’ve never felt so close to animals and their conservation struggles and I believe after your visit, you will too!
Our Tips for Your visit
It can get hot in the summer so make sure to wear sunscreen and keep hydrated. They have misting tents and places to refill water bottles.
Get Social with Southwick’s Zoo
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