Monday, July 17, 2017

Memphis Monday: The Memphis Zoo

Every other month or so, I'll get an email from someone telling me they're coming to Memphis and "what the heck should we do?!?"  That - combined with the fact that I really do love my adopted hometown - inspired me to start a new series on my blog: Memphis Monday.  Every Monday I will (hopefully) highlight another place around town.  I'm going to start with one of our very favorites: The Memphis Zoo!


Our zoo is routinely ranked among the best in the nation and for good reason.  It's pretty awesome!  There are so many animals and lots of other things to do as well.

Basics:

They are open 9-5 from March though October; 9-4 the remainder of the year
Adult tickets are $15, children are $10 and parking is $5
A family membership - something we purchase every year - is $100 and includes admission for our family, parking, and special discounts.  If you're a member of your local zoo, you probably get discounted admission to Memphis.


Why we love it:

- Pandas.  We are one of only five zoos in the country to host pandas and they're my one MUST SEE every single time we go to the zoo.  I love the pandas!  Their names are LeLe and YaYa and they're part of the China exhibit.  You'll also find monkeys, otters, and various kinds of birds in the exhibit.  There's also a lot of history and the kids think no visit is complete without climbing on the statues.

 


- Stingray Bay.  Okay, we only tried this for the first time last week.  WHAT WERE WE WAITING ON?!?  It's such a cool little exhibit.  It's $2 if you're a member, $3 if you're not and well worth it.  There is a huge tank full of stingrays and they are so interactive!  I'm talking they were giving us high fives and everything.  The zookeeper told us they are super social creatures and that was obvious.  The kids loved being able to run their hands over then and squealed every time one popped up for a high five.



- Interaction.  There is a TON of interaction at the zoo!  The kids have been able to pet a huge snake.  We've seen the bird show -- I'm not a fan of birds and even I can admit it was pretty fun.  We've watched the hippos being fed and seen the sea lion show (my personal favorite!)  Various keeper chats are held throughout the day and the zookeepers are all informative and friendly, patient with the endless stream of questions that kids have!  

I took this picture of the sea lion show the summer of 2010 and I HAD to include this next picture, taken the same day, cause look at those tiny boys!


There are also opportunities for interaction that require a little bit of money.  ;)  Last week, we rode camels for the first time ($5 per rider) and you can also feed giraffes for $4. (The giraffes were closed when we were there last Wednesday because . . . a baby giraffe had just been born that day.  Now we can't wait to go back to see the baby giraffe.)



- Wading Pool and Fountains.  It is hot and humid in Memphis in the summertime and the zoo has two different ways to cool off.  The entrance has a wading pool and there are also fountains over by Teton Trek (where you'll find grizzlies and wolves.)  My kids are split as to which they prefer.  But both are GREAT ways to cool off!  If you take kids to the zoo, make sure they wear a bathing suit under their clothes.

This is the fountain at Teton Trek.  They recently redid the wading pool at the entrance and apparently I don't have a current picture of it!  This post may be updated with a pic the next time we go!

- The Monkeys.  So, how clichĂ© right?  The monkeys are fun at every zoo!  You have to stop inside Cat House CafĂ©, though, because the monkeys will come right up to the windows and interact with you.  And they love selfies!


Okay, those are just a few reasons we absolutely love our zoo.  It's beautiful grounds and - mostly - well shaded.  There are plenty of things for kids to do.  There's a playground, petting zoo, and two different areas with instruments.


The best time of the year to go is early fall, I love going in October.  The weather has chilled out a bit and they have Halloween decorations out.  I have to add that you should avoid the zoo during the month of May.  That's field trip time and everywhere you turn you'll find a kindergarten class.  The price can be a little steep if you're just doing a one day visit (and you need to keep in mind that so many things cost extra - the camel rides, Stingray Bay, carousel, face painting, etc) but it really is a great zoo and you can easily spend an entire day there.

It's definitely one of our favorite places in Memphis!

The HUGE tank that's part of the newest exhibit - The Zambezi River Hippo Camp - we got to see Winnie, the baby hippo, when we were there last Wednesday!

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