We have a few zoos here in New York City. One we can literally walk to -- the Central Park Zoo, which is small enough to tackle in a few hours (and yes, where those guys in the Madagascar movies claim to be from, though there are no hippos, zebras, giraffes or lions there). Then there is the famous Bronx Zoo -- amazing, huge and has big cats (a cool thing for Kiddo).
No matter what zoo you may have in your ‘hood (or a few hours away), there are ways to make your zoo trip go beyond just saying a howdeedoo to those animals.
Before you go - Look it up. Check out the map...and not just you and your husband. Get the kids involved. As you go through all of the animals and exhibits that are there, have everyone write down guesses of what the animals will be doing when you arrive. Plot out where all you may want to hit and, if it is a big zoo and your kids LOVE monkeys, be sure to list your top three spots you definitely want to see.
While you are there - Though you may be in mode to see everything, you can miss a lot if you rush by those elephants or that lizard habitat. Sit for a while, watch, observe...you just may see some amazing behaviors. Take breaks and keep hydrated. Thirsty kiddos and adults with low blood sugar can doom any family adventure. If you have time, head to some special exhibits that may not be there next time, even if it is an animal or creature you may not be so into...you'll be surprised, I bet.
After you go - Bring some crayons and paper with you in the car and start right off, having the kids draw a few of the favorite animals they saw. When you get home or the next day, recreate some of the scenes ala an old school diorama. Grab some old shoeboxes, construction paper, toothpicks, Popsicle sticks, cotton balls and some glue and make that hippo habitat. (Hint: cotton balls with green marker make great tops of trees).
When was the last time your family headed to the zoo?