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Posts Tagged ‘spring’

Spring is here and with that is warmer weather, blooming flowers, and the desire to explore the outdoors! While nature is a beautiful thing and wild places are a magical place to experience, not everyone has access to them. Whether it be because you live in a city, don’t have a lot of time off, or your country/area does not have a lot of native flora you are interested in seeing, there are other options for you! Zoos (and sometimes aquariums) are a wonderful option for people wanting to experience some extra plants in their life. The more updated style of zoos aims for a more natural look and strives to transport the visitor to the natural world of the animals they house. Exhibits with towering trees, lush grass, and even streams are more and more popular in the zoos of the world. Indoor pavilions provide tropical flowers and plants for the many birds and insects they house. Some areas have plants as the main focus!

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There are a number of zoos worldwide that are also partnered with a botanical garden. Sometimes admission to both is included, or at least a discount ticket is offered. Not only does this give more variety to your visit but also the opportunity for experiencing new and exciting plants you never knew existed! I have definitely seen more species of plants in my life from visiting zoos!

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Visiting a zoo with a good horticulture department and staff really heightens your experience and makes for a better zoo visit. Seeing animals in a more natural environment in general is great, but in a natural environment with plants that are native to their wild ranges is even better. Yes, learning new facts about the animals you are seeing is fantastic, but what about learning about the plants! Did you know many zoos house plants that are extinct in the wild? Did you know some zoos have more species of plants than of animals? Maybe that there are over five zoos in the US that are officially recognized as museums due to their plant collections? Or how about that the Toronto Zoo’s collection of plants is said to be worth more than their animal collection?

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So now that you’re craving a little more flora, where should you go? Any zoo that also has ‘Botanical Garden’ in the name is a good bet. Look to see if they house species like butterflies or tropical birds, or if they have any greenhouses or pavilions on site. If you’re still unsure, give them a call!

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While many plants are grown to be used as food and enrichment for the animals, most of the plant collection is used to enrich the exhibits and grounds of the zoo itself. So next time you’re visiting, take time to stop and smell the roses!

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TIP: Go All Year!

The zoo is a wonderful place to go on a day off with family and friends. For most people this would be in the summer when the kids are out of school, vacation time is booked, or the weather is nice. I would like to use this post to show some pros and cons of going to the zoo during different seasons. I went to a zoo in the middle of winter for the first time a couple years ago and it opened my eyes to a whole different experience!

****Reminder: These seasons are according to Southwestern Ontario. Weather patterns may be different where you are and should be factored in accordingly.****

Spring:
– Pros: Warmer weather, increase in baby animals, prices may still be cheaper, most exhibits on display, more events to start promotions for busy season
– Cons: Higher potential for rain days, some exhibits may be still closed, slightly busy

Summer:
– Pros: Best hours, Most amounts of exhibits open, baby animals, plenty of events/promotions, usually when new attractions/exhibits open, nice weather
– Cons: potentially too hot, lethargic/irritable animals, very busy/crowded, sometimes higher prices

Autumn:
– Pros: Nice weather, more active animals, less busy, most exhibits still open, potentially cheaper rates
– Cons: Potentially less exhibits open, Potentially bad weather

Winter:
– Pros: Least amount of crowding, cheapest prices, active animals
– Cons: Cold, least amount of exhibits open, potentially construction

African Lion at the Toronto Zoo

African Lion at the Toronto Zoo in Winter

Overall, I feel that the more time you have at exhibits to fully appreciate the animals you spent the money to see the more fulfilling your trip. No matter what the time of year, if you go during the week instead of weekends and holidays it will be far less busy. If you go during the off season (if the zoo near you is open more than just July/August), the less crowded it will be. I have found it far more enjoyable to go in the fall and winter when the animals aren’t stressed from the heat and are moving around more – this way you get to understand their behaviours better.

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