Location: Caledonia, Ontario
Highlights: Abundance of big cats
Photos: August 2012
Children Friendly (6): As a smaller zoo, the Killman Zoo is great for little ones. Less walking and animals in a more condensed layout means they are constantly seeing the animals. Also exhibits are on the same level as the children for the most part so no lifting by the adults is required for the young ones to see. There are no extra activities for children that I saw however, such as playgrounds, children’s areas, or programs.
**Note: Peanuts were EVERYWHERE as visitors are allowed to feed them to the animals.
Animal Diversity (5): Known for their big cat collection, I was surprised by the variety of species they did have. This zoo is not nearly on the same scale as the premium zoos but it did showcase a decent amount of mammals and birds for the public.
Animal Viewing (8): Many of the pens were designed so visitors can view from all or most sides. As well, most pens did not have very many hiding spots for the animals. The pens which did however have hiding spots or were further away from the visitor pathway it was quite hard to view the animals.
Animals Happiness (3): Most of the animals were housed in enclosures that I feel were a small for their inhabitants and not very natural. I also noticed pacing being exhibited by a number of the large cats. I did see enrichment items in some of the enclosures, but never being used.
Photography (4): Despite the proximity to the animals, the fencing greatly affected the picture quality. Therefore, although you had some great views of the animals the pictures you take home are not the most appealing.
Layout/Map (4): There was no map for the zoo – either online, displayed on site, or given when you enter. Which, when dealing with smaller zoos like this one kind of makes you feel like you’re trespassing when you walk down a path and aren’t sure if it’s part of the zoo or leading you to the neighbours farm. The layout provides animals close together with little amounts of walking which with little ones is nice. The layout is generally sorted by animal type however not enough so that you feel it is organized.
Hours (5): Open during the ‘peak’ hours of the day, with opening one hour earlier on weekends. Many families I feel would want to get up and go rather than wait until lunch time to visit. Also, it is unclear whether or not they are open year round.
Price (4): Parking is free which is a nice bonus however I still feel for the size and quality of the zoo the prices are still fairly high. They do offer discounted prices for seniors, children, and students. Even if they kept their prices the same but offered membership options it would improve their appeal.
Food (0): I did not see any food or beverage options on site.
Website (5): For the size of the zoo the website is decent. It gives you the basic information on a nice backdrop. I feel with a little updating on format it would greatly improve the impression of the zoo to people researching their site beforehand.
Gift Shop (4): I wasn’t expecting there to be a gift shop at all to be honest, so I was surprised when there was a booth by the entrance. It does have a small variety of souvenirs to buy – from what I saw they were the standard zoo gift shop merchandise. It would have been nice to have more personalized items for Killman Zoo themselves – not only so guests are reminded of their trip but also to help advertise.
Quiet Areas (4): There was an area with picnic benches however there weren’t many other areas where you could stop and rest. Also with the closeness of the exhibits to the pathway and to each other, on busy days it would be hard to step to the side or take a moment to yourself.
Safety/Cleanliness (3): This zoo did not feel safe to me as a visitor. The type of fencing used and the overall structure of the enclosures did not seem completely secure. There were plenty of areas that little ones could put hands through fences and potentially injure themselves. In terms of cleanliness all pathways were dirt – which is ok but during wetter times this would definitely not be a zoo I’d want to visit. Also signs are posted stating the distance some of the large cats can spray but don’t offer pathways that are out of that range.
Extras (5): I personally did not participate in any extras, however according to their website and some info posted they do offer some. Holiday events appear to take place as well as school trips and camps. As well there was advertising on our trip for an outside animal organization that brings animal visitors and does talks.
Overall (4.3): I would most likely not visit this zoo again or recommend others to visit. They did have a wider variety of animals than I expected and you were able to get fairly close to most; however, the quality of the enclosures dampened my experience greatly. For a little bit more money you would be able to visit higher quality zoos in the area.