Up Close and Personal with the Animals at the ZooAmerica After-Hours Tour
A couple of weeks ago, we were able to take the After-Hours Tour at ZooAmerica. It was Songbird’s birthday weekend, and the tour was a great way to celebrate!
Our tour started by meeting the tour guide (Tim) in the ZooAmerica parking lot. We had a small group as there were only six of us on our particular tour that night. Tim took us into the Animal Health Center building to begin our tour. We started with a quick overview of how they keep their equipment for wild (non-zoo) animals and zoo residents separate. That way, diseases won’t be spread from wild animals to zoo animals. We also saw their exam room with medical equipment.
One of the things we talked about in the exam room was about tranquilizing animals on the run. Tim brought out the blow dart for everyone to try. I couldn’t believe that the birthday girl “blew” everyone out of the water with her accuracy. In fact, I wasn’t sure whether to be proud or whether to wonder what she’s been doing in her spare time. Maybe we should move closer to Hershey, so she can go work at the zoo…
We also saw the zoo’s animal food storage room. It looked like every animal had its favorite food taken care of. In fact, Tim shared that the hotels send some of their “scraps” to the zoo to feed the animals. Sounds like a great use of something that would have likely been thrown away, otherwise.
Next, we headed out to feed some of the animals. We started with watching Tim feed the bobcats. The bobcats were poised to grab the food and dash to a corner of the cage to eat. After he fed the bobcats, we headed over to the otters. Both otters were anxiously waiting for us to toss down the little fish for them. Otters have always been one of my favorite zoo animals, so getting to feed them was a treat!
Then, we headed into the Southwest exhibit to see some of the nocturnal animals. Normally speaking, it seems like some of these animals can hear what is going on outside the exhibit. So many times when we have gone, the nocturnal animals didn’t seem to come out or were hard to find. On this night, we were able to see some more easily. I hadn’t seen one of the vampire bats (upper right) on the bottom of the exhibit before, so seeing one feeding at its bowl was a treat.
Next up on the tour were the reptiles. We watched as both the alligator and the alligator snapping turtle were fed. I was thankful to be on the outside of the glass… However, at no time did it seem like Rachel was in any danger.
Then, we went to one of the zoo’s educational rooms. The room had a few displays with lizards and a turtle. The lizards seem to have the good life lounging on hammocks. We had the chance to touch the bottom of a snake and a small alligator. The highlight of this room? Holding the owl. We all took turns holding the owl. I was so proud of my son for stepping up to hold the owl as this was something he had never done before.
The last part of the tour was feeding the bears: Murphy (on the right) and Chief (on the left). They loved eating grapes off the end of wooden sticks! What a unique experience!
We all enjoyed the ZooAmerica After-Hours Tour! It is a great family activity (ages 3+), and it is one that we would totally love to do again sometime! If you want to get a different look at what happens after the zoo closes and it gets dark, this tour might be for you.
The ZooAmerica After-Hours Tours currently take place on Saturday and Wednesday nights, year round. Of course, the start time changes depending on the zoo’s closing times, so if you plan on taking this tour, make sure to jot down what time your tour starts and where to meet. To find out current pricing for the After-Hours Tour, make sure to check out the ZooAmerica website. [Note: Our tour was comped in hopes that we would share our experience with you. I am a member of the Hershey, PA Sweetest Moms for 2016.]