With travel restrictions still in place in most destinations, a “staycation” seems to be the destination of choice for most of this year. One of my long-time favorite “trips” away from home and when staying has been to zoos at home and abroad. Having been on wildlife tours or safaris in three African countries plus Brazil’s Amazon, India and Sri Lanka, a zoo visit is just an interim alternative. However, while viewing wildlife in their natural habitat may be more authentic, it is not always successful. In Brazil visiting two science/conservation centers, I was able to get “up close and personal” in ways not possible following our guide using a machete to create a path while the rainforest inhabitants were likely happy to go unobserved. In past years, I have spent days at zoos from Melbourne, Australia to San Diego and Saint Louis.
During the pandemic, timing is good for a zoo-safari since many or most of the exhibits are outdoors.
Here are our 5 tips:
Know before you go: While COVID-19 restrictions are in place, go online to plan. In addition to requiring masks, in certain locations to maintain social distancing, there may be timed re-entry.
Watch the costs: Zoos can be a perfect #solotravel destination or couples/family day. However, I have noticed that even if there is no charge for admission, charges can stack up. Here in Washington, DC, the National Zoo has a stiff $30 parking fee. Food courts can be really high so plan accordingly.
Visit locally/make purchases globally. Check out the zoo gift shop. Typically even in local zoos, options come from around the country or even around the world which are ideal for holiday gifts.
Take advantage of volunteer opportunities. Even without training, volunteer opportunities may still be available.
Celebrate the holidays: Take advantage of holiday light shows from Thanksgiving to New Years.