In addition to all that can be learned in the natural areas of the Jersey Shore, there are many educational opportunities to be found in surrounding areas.
The Cape May Zoo is less than thirty minutes by car from Ocean City, New Jersey. We have been visiting this zoo since our two youngest children were toddlers and love going back every year as the children grow and get more out of the visit each time.
Donations are welcome, but admission to the zoo is free, making this a very affordable learning experience. There are a wide variety of exhibits to observe including a reptile house, a bird house and several larger animals, such as camels, zebras, giraffes, bears and a tiger.
The zoo grounds are very pleasant to walk through. There are shady paths and wooden walkways that would be perfect for a nature walk even without the exhibits. We usually visit on cooler, overcast days (when the weather is not ideal to spend the day in the water at the beach), but the partially shady grounds would be nice on hotter, sunnier days too.
This year, my five year old was at a great age to take advantage of some of the educational aspects of the zoo that he has not had the attention span to focus on previously. Each exhibit lists information about the animal as well as the country where the animal lives in the wild. This was a great geography lesson. We also found a large world map in the reptile house where we could locate some of the countries we had talked about while visiting other exhibits earlier in the day.
We learned about conservation programs for certain animals which led to a discussion about conservation in general. The kids understood it best when we talked about not wasting and the importance of using resources wisely. We talked about animal habitat and how we can help conserve it.
We have been using maps a lot at home lately when we talk about travel and the kids were really interested in the zoo map this year. My five year old studied it at length and got a lot of good map reading practice while exploring the zoo.
The zoo is open year round, except for certain holidays and hours change depending on the season. There are special events throughout the year. We attended a Halloween themed event last year which included a very exciting pirate show at the entrance of the zoo. There is a train and a carousel that operate in the summer and a small gift shop. There are picnic areas available just outside the zoo (outside food is not allowed in) and some snack stands in and around the zoo. Visit the zoo’s website to learn more and to plan your educational trip next time you are at the Jersey shore!
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