Visiting the Minnesota Zoo
The Minnesota Zoo is a playland for both kids and adults. It’s extremely large in scope – with over 500 animal species (and over 4,200 animals), attendance of over 1.1 million a year, 350,000 people participating in zoo education programs, and is located in 485 acres just south of the Twin Cities. One revolutionary thing that the Minnesota Zoo did, when it was founded in 1978, was to organize their animals by the environment (as opposed to organizing via species).
The Minnesota Zoo boasts an IMAX theater (which we love), and six different themed areas. These areas include: the Medtronic Minnesota Trail (animals native to Minnesota, including the Timberwolf); a Northern Trail (animals from the north); a Tropics Trail (indoors of course, featuring tropical animals); Discovery Bay (marine wildlife); Russia’s Grizzly Coast (animals from Russia’s far east); and the Wells Fargo Family Farm - a petting zoo with farm animals.
There are many play areas, for families to rest and kids to play. The zoo also does a fantastic job teaching about animals, with easy to read information at each exhibit, and fun games for kids. Our daughter loved getting the stamps on the Minnesota Trail. There are dolphin training sessions, cow milking demonstrations (in warmer weather), shark and penguin feedings, and even an interactive water fountain in the summer, to help you cool off. Our favorite part is the Mammoth Dig, in Russia’s Grizzly Coast – it’s an archaeological dig where you can unearth mammoth bones in a huge sand pit! You can also take the monorail around – a great way to see things from above. Before you come with your family, be sure to show your kids the webcams, so they can know what to expect.
The zoo is very clean, has expansive habitats, active animals,does an excellent job with education as well as animal rehabilitation. Since opening in 1978, it has more than doubled its animal collection, and has become a global leader in conservation. It is run by the State of Minnesota and is open all year round.
There are plenty of restrooms, stroller rentals, free wheelchairs, a café, and space to sit in the sun or shade. It’s a perfect family outing, with plenty to learn, see, and do.