This is the larger of the Twin Cities' two zoos and a different animal than its smaller St. Paul cousin. Its 542 species are spread over six indoor and outdoor sections that include habitats for creatures of fin, feather and fur and a few in between. Its role extends far beyond providing the usual zoo experience to establishing and supporting conservation programs both at home, as in the restoration of our Trumpeter Swan population, and abroad, such as one for Sumatran tigers, and another at the Ujung Kulon wilderness park in Indonesia.
It does comes with some pros and cons.
On the plus side:
Stroller and wheelchair-friendly paths, plus a monorail that makes a slow loop around some of the larger, outdoor sections, makes a day here an all-ages, all-abilities activity.
Cafes, snack kiosks and restrooms are plentiful for refreshing and refueling.
The World of Bird shows at the outdoor amphitheater are both funny and informing
Wee folks will enjoy feeding and petting the flocks at Wells Fargo Family Farm
On the more challenging side:
Some very large outdoor habitats are designed for the comfort of the critters and so you may not catch a glimpse of the lions and tigers. Other animals may be resting or grazing a considerable distance away.
The location, in a far southern suburb, places it some distance from many other Twin Cities attractions. Families may want to choose an itinerary that includes Mall of America, Valley Fair amusement park, and a hotel in the Bloomington area if wanting to visit the zoo.
Entry fees - as compared to the $2 suggested per-person donation at Como Zoo in St Paul - are steep and with parking fees, monorail rides, food and/or souvenirs, this can easily be a $100 activity for a family of 4 (kids 2 and under are free).
If you or your kids are serious animal lovers and want to devote the better part of a day, then this is a good choice for you. If you are on a budget, have little ones who tire quickly, or just want a couple hours of time with some critters, then Como is the better option; see my St. Paul pages for info on that and other activities in Como Park.
Animal lovers unite!!!
If you're staying in the area for awhile..I recommend becoming a member of the zoo. It will save you alot of money in the end. Be sure to bring your own food and do remember that most items in the gift shoppe can be found at 1/4 of the price elsewhere.
Year-round fun with indoor and outdoor exhibitions and trails featuring more than 2,300 animals on 500 acres. Ride the climate controlled monorail, watch a World of Birds show and visit the new Discovery Bay featuring dolphin shows and daily shark feedings. For added entertainment take in a movie at the Imation Imax theater, or a concert at the Amphitheater. It's very strange to go to the zoo to see a concert. And it's pretty strange that the zoo books acts that don't involve a seal or an orangutan playing guitar. But in fact, there's a venue here and where's there's a venue, there's music to fill it. You have to embrace the experience. So you're dressed in your hip-but-outdoors concert-wear, which will make you feel odd as you walk by bored tigers and monkeys on your way to the show. If it's a nice warm summer night, then this is why you're here: to lean back and listen to tunes under the stars. If it's raining, you're out of luck because the amphitheater is totally unprepared to deal with it. But if it is one of those slightly blustery warm nights, then the animals and the ducks floating in the pond next to stage make a sort of twisted surreal sense.
Indoor/ outdoor exhibits offer the ability to visit no matter what season. They have Dolphin Shows, a Bird show and Zoo Lab (a place where children can get up close and touch animals). They also have a family farm where you can feed the goats and watch milking demonstrations. There is also an Imax thater on site
This zoo is cosidered by wildlife experts to be one of the 10 best zoos in the country. They have an indoor and outdoor zoological trail and interactive marine center with dolphins, sharks, and manta rays. They also just built a nice farm area.
They have a lot of special events which are nice. This picture was taken the day before Easter when they had an egg hunt for the children and other activities involving all of the baby animals. The local news reporter is feeding the calf and my daughter is watching (purple Big Bird sweatshirt).
This is a really nice zoo, with lots of variety of animals. My favorite is Discovery bay. they have an excellent Dolphin exhibit & Shark exhibit
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