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Is a Zoo Membership Worth it for your Family?

Posted by Lauren Petrullo on
Is a Zoo Membership Worth it for your Family?

Zoo Tips and Tricks 

Lions, tigers, and a zoo membership, oh fun! A zoo membership is by far one of the best investments we have made. With all the interesting sights, sounds, and activities, our 17 month old loves her zoo visits. Have you been debating investing in a zoo membership for you and your family? Here are some of the things to consider:

  • Cost- Having a family is expensive and budgeting is always a hot topic in our household. The cost of a zoo membership can be a big chunk of money from your entertainment budget! The way we decided was by evaluating how many times we would need to go to make the cost of a membership worth mom and daughter looking at a giraffethe price tag. For us, going to the zoo 3 times would pay for the membership. We usually go the zoo 6 or so times a year so it was a no brainer for us. Look at the cost for admittance for all the people in your family - remember that some zoos don’t charge for babies or kids under a certain age - and multiply that cost by how many trips you are likely to take. If it is more than the membership then go for it! It might cost a lot up front but then you can go as much as you like and not have to pay again!
  • Food Regulations- Any park food can be expensive, so it is good to look into the rules that your zoo has about bringing in outside food. Our zoo is great about this and allows outside food and even provides several picnic areas. We love packing peanut butter sandwiches and snacks to enjoy throughout the day. If we do decide to buy some park food we are sure to mention that we are members because we get a discount. Definitely look into what food discounts you can get for becoming a member to help you save additional cash.
  • Additional Benefits- Many zoos offer additional benefits for becoming a member, which really pushed us into buying one. Our zoo offers members-dad holding daughter in front of an elephant enclosureonly-nights during the summer, which are amazing. These nights allow us to go when my husband was done with the work day so we could all go as a family. An additional benefit was getting to see the animals at night since many of them are typically more active and alert during the cooler evening hours. Another benefit was the discounts: as I mentioned before, we can buy food at a discount and we also get a deal at the gift shop. Some zoos allow their members to ride the trams, trains, or SkyRides at no extra cost too!
  • Reciprocal Memberships- Some zoo memberships are also reciprocal, which means you get discounted (or free!) admission to other zoos and aquariums. That can be great to think about if you want to visit another zoo on a family trip. Check your zoo’s website to see if they have a program like that. 
    • Distance- Driving long distances in the car with Little ones can be hard. If your “local” zoo isn’t close to home you might not want to go as often. If it is
  • little girl pointing close, then it can be a great way to spend a morning before nap time. With a membership, zoo trips don’t have to be a whole day event. Ours has an amazing playground inside the zoo so sometimes we just use our membership to go to the zoo and don’t even see any animals!
  • Age/Interest- Probably one of the more obvious things to consider is whether your Little has an interest in the zoo. Especially for the littler Littles if can be hard to judge how much they will enjoy the zoo and if the membership would be worth it. Our Little has always been into animals and the noises they make, so we thought it would be a good fit and it has been. I think a safe age to start thinking about a zoo membership is around 1 year old. 
  • Tips on Your Zoo Trips- Whether you get a membership or not you will probably fund yourself heading to the zoo eventually. I suggest you always pack sunscreen, shades, and hats since many zoos are open to the sun with little areas of shade. Wear shoes, not flip flops since the zoo usually means a lot of walking. If you have a  jogger stroller that is a better option than your traditional stroller because many of the zoos I have been to have hills, gravel, and uneven pavement. Be sure to pack extra water and snacks to give your kiddo throughout the day as no one has fun when your toddler is hangry! Finally, when going through the admission gate, ask the attendant if there is anything special happening that day; you just might luck out and see a new show or special event!

If you’re considering a zoo membership, hop onto the zoo’s website or give them a call to find out what benefits it offers to it’s patrons. They can turn “lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my” to “lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my my my!”

Author and photos: Karissa Sargent

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