If your kids are anything like mine, the zoo, despite its abundance of fauna and flora, was not something that they really appreciated. “Look! A poison dart frog! It’s right in front of you!” “Woh! That elephant just pooped!” Despite gesturing at the ginormous pachyderm standing right in front of them, all I get is a passing glance from them and the kids were ready to move on and were more interested in touching the animal sculptures that dot the Smithsonian Zoo grounds. That was 3 years ago. We decided to try again, and this time we went to a small zoo in Vienna, Virginia that features many opportunities for the little ones to have close encounters and interaction with the animals.
The Real Deal
Roer’s Zoofari first appeared on my radar through one of the many online sites marketplace sites that offer local deals on tickets, restaurants, and goods. The deal includes the entrance fees and the Zoofari ride for 6 people for $57 (that’s less than $10/person). For an additional $5, you get a cup of carrots to feed the animals with, and for another $5, you get 3 sticks of seeds that you can use to feed the budgies (parakeets on their website).
The boys took to the feeding activity right away and were eagerly giving away the carrots to the many goats that greeted us as we entered. We had to ration them to make sure they saved some for the llamas, as well as the usually shy white-tailed deer that came right up to us on the Zoofari bus as it stopped at various points of the tour. Oh, and don’t forget to save the really longer carrot sticks to give to the star of the Zoofari—the giraffe! Watch out for the long tongue and don’t let that slobber hit you as it leans down to take the treats off your child’s little fingers.
Another highlight would be the seeds stuck to the end of a Popsicle stick. You enter a free-flight aviary and will be met with a colorful array of feathers and beaks eager to peck at the seeds. When you take pictures, it gives the illusion that they had landed on your child’s hand. It makes for a cool photo op!
The kids had a way better experience at this zoo than with a traditional zoo. They kept exclaiming that it was one of the “best days ever!” You can’t compete with the power of interaction with animals. For kids their age, and the excitement and joy it brought, we felt it was worth the trip!