Remember the anticipation of standing in line, waiting to get your ticket to ride the pony at the zoo? It seemed to take forever! And then you had to choose just the right horse. Nothing too big – but not one too small, either. Fortunately, the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo always had a good variety of mounts. If Mom or Dad needed to help several kids with their rides, a friendly worker was able to walk beside your mount, so that it wouldn’t do anything too wild. In retrospect, the worker was probably also there to keep you from falling off! But the illusion of having a wild horse was still nice. The Zoo’s always a fun place to explore with plenty of rides and sights for everyone.
You’ll see lots of activity near the California sea lion tank. One or two of those sleek creatures is always swooping through the water, hauling itself onto the rocks for a nice sunning session, or swooshing back and forth in front of the big windows near the viewing area. That always looks like the perfect life – sunshine and swimming! And then there are the lions. If you are inside the African Journey, you’ll wander through some beautifully landscaped lilies and grasses, over to some huge pink rocks. Inside one of those rock enclaves is a giant set of windows with a pair of African lions right behind them. Bill is a magnificent specimen with a full gold mane. He’s usually napping in the sun, near the top of his grassy territory. Ina, the female lion, is usually a little more active, prowling about and checking out the turf. Don’t miss the spotted hyena, either – if you’re thinking of Shenzi, Banzai and Ed from the Lion King, well, think again!
The hyenas at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo are huge! Speaking of big, have you seen the giraffes? From a distance, the reticulated giraffes don’t look so tall. But as they come closer to the viewing and feeding platform, you get an idea of how really big a giraffe is. They just seem to stretch up and up, and they have the longest tongues, perfect for snatching tasty lettuce leaves from willing hands. Yes, you can buy lettuce for the giraffes – and there are hand washing stations, with soap, so you can tidy up afterwards. The Australian Adventure area is undergoing renovation, right now. But if you do get the chance to walk through, don’t miss the fantastic aquarium.You can spend lots of time identifying the different fish with the help of the illuminated chart on the wall. There’s something magical about seeing so many swimming creatures swirling around in the blue. The golden dingoes are fun to watch. If it’s feeding time, the dingoes perk their ears and hustle over to the gate, where the zookeeper will call them in, a few at a time. If you want a chance to actually touch a few animals, hike over to the Indiana Family Farm where there is an entire herd of goats, a rabbit or two, and some baby chicks. The goats are friendly – and they love to nibble anything! (Watch out if you brought snacks – the goats will hunt for them.) Instead of feeding the goats your own snacks, why not buy something from the goat snack bar? You will be surrounded by furry, hoofed friends!
Once you’ve finished your exploration of the zoo, stop by the Wild Things Gift Shop. There are elegant scarves and beaded trinkets, stationary, plush toys, and tee shirts. If you need batteries for your camera or some small emergency supplies, the shop has these, too. Popcorn on a cob, pens, and snow globes are also for sale. By the end of your day, you’ll be tired – but you will have had a wonderful time outside, with your family, at the welcoming Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo.