Field Trip: North Carolina Zoo

As other stay-at-home parents know, sometimes you just have to get out of the house. This most recently happened a few weeks ago, when our visit with an aunt, cousin, and great-grandmother came to an end. My lovely children were bouncing off the wall. My husband had to go in to work, so while I usually reserve the zoo for a both-parent, pre-planned outing, I decided to go for it. It was a beautiful day and I was reminded once again how great the North Carolina Zoo is.

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Zebra.

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Lions lazing around.

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Elephant.

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Good giraffe photo.

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Baby giraffe! (Already looking pretty big.)

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Baby gorilla!!

Not all of these photos are from our most recent visit, and I realize that I don’t have any good photos of the North American animals that are kid-free, but they give you a good taste of what the NC Zoo offers. Also, the baby animals photos are from this April, so if you want to see baby animals, now is a good time to go!

The zoo is located in Asheboro, NC, and it’s a large zoo, especially in terms of area. There is a LOT of walking, and while trams are available, the waits can be long, so don’t count on using them to get around most of the time. The zoo is divided into two sections, Africa and North America. Our usual method has been to park in Africa, eat lunch before we go in (we do not generally get out of the house early enough to make the hour and a half drive before lunchtime), see African animals, see North American animals, then take the tram back to our starting point. This plan has changed somewhat as our oldest’s favorite animal has become the seal (in North America): the last time we went as a family, we parked in North America, and my (somewhat fluid) plan this past time was to see a few African animals, get to the seals in N. America as quickly as possible, then work our way back to the car and see what we had time for on the way.

Aside from the baby animals, some of the highlights from this trip included getting to play on the “Garden Friends” playground in North America (we usually make the kids skip it) and seeing the lions just before closing time, when they weren’t just lying there. We got to see the male and female lion give each other nuzzles just like in The Lion King!

Even with the workout (and with small children, sometimes because of it!), it’s a fabulous zoo and well worth the trip. While it’s not ideal to go in the middle of summer, there is a good amount of shade to help counterbalance the walking. You can bring your own stroller or rent one there. The entrance fee is quite reasonable (although the food’s pretty pricey, hence our tendency to pack a picnic), and you can also become a member, which covers your admission all year to both the zoo and the NC Aquarium. The zoo is one of our favorite  family outings here in NC.

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