A trip to the zoo is a mindful experience allowing us to better appreciate the idiosyncrasies of our daily lives. There’s something oddly serene about spending the day with a bunch of wild animals. It’s the kind of environment where you can sit with your thoughts and be one with nature as you observe various creatures of the earth in their natural habitat. With at least five zoos located within a two-hour drive of Los Angeles, plus an excellent option right here in the city with the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens, you can make the most out of your zoo experience by following a few simple tips from this Los Angeles guide to the zoo.
Buy Your Ticket In Advance
Save yourself some time and purchase your tickets online to avoid waiting in any potentially long lines, especially at some of the bigger zoos. The lines at the LA Zoo aren’t too bad, but you can still save yourself about 15 to 30 minutes worth of wait time. Besides, while everyone is waiting in line to access the zoo, you can rush ahead and secure the best spots for viewing your favorite animals.
Arrive Early And Stay Late
Most of the animals are usually more active as early as when the zoo opens and as late as when it closes. The LA Zoo, for example, does an elephant training demonstration daily at 11 a.m. and later at 4 p.m. is when the chimpanzees of the Mahale Mountains exhibit start to become active in the “penthouse” built for chimps. Another exhibit worth seeing is the Campo Gorilla Reserve. Like us, animals work on different time schedules and the level of entertainment varies on the time.
Become Your Own Zoo Guide
The LA Zoo offers a convenient audio tour straight through your personal mobile device. The audio cell phone tour features at least 14 of the zoo’s most interesting exhibits and includes the newly renovated amphibians and reptile LAIR exhibit as well as the Madagascar radiated tortoise and the mountain tapir exhibits. Take the time to stop and read the exhibit descriptions as well. Some of the stuff you read can be quite insightful, such as a baby giraffe being born at six feet tall and 150 pounds.
Bring Your Own Lunch
Food at the zoo can get pretty pricey. Lunch for two at Reggie’s Bistro near near the LA Zoo entrance runs an estimated $25 for a sandwich and individual salad. Add another $15 for two cinnamon churros and a large ICEE refreshment and you’ve already spent $40 on food alone after paying $18 for your ticket. While walking around the zoo is sure to wear you out, spending that much alone on something you can easily find at home beforehand will work out in the long run. Save money and have yourself a small picnic at the zoo instead. You may also want to bring a water bottle you can fill yourself at a water fountain.
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Wear Comfortable Shoes
The bigger the zoo, the more walking you’ll do, so be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes. The LA Zoo, for example, consists of 133 acres that could take a couple hours to walk through at a leisurely pace. Most of the walking will probably be out in the sun so don’t forget to wear sunscreen. Given the apparent infestation of bees throughout the zoo (said to be part of the natural habitat for zoo residents), bug-repellent sunscreen comes highly recommended. It is also a fun “hint” to wear the same color of the zoo attendants (usually dark green) then the animals may even approach you.
Niki Payne is a freelance writer covering all things Entertainment in Los Angeles. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.