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Family Fun: Southwick's Zoo

By Michelle Gallerani

Publication: theday.com

Published April 17. 2012 4:00AM   Updated April 17. 2012 8:19AM

For our Family Fun this month, we headed to Southwick's Zoo in Mendon, Massachusetts. Little Man is crazy for animals and we were all looking forward to this trip.

It was about an hour and fifteen minute drive, just over the Rhode Island border in Massachusetts. It is literally in the middle of nowhere, so much so that for a short period I thought we were lost. The web page brags of the "largest zoo in New England", but the very unassuming entrance momentarily made me second guess our decision.

But let me tell you--this was a really great zoo! I found the layout wonderful and open. You could get much closer to the animals than I remember at other zoos we have visited. I have found other zoos to be very compartmentalized and "institutional", for lack of a better word. But the exhibits and habitats at Southwick's Zoo seemed to flow much more nicely from one to another. Also, I do think there were a good amount of people at the zoo (it was opening day) but it was not crowded at all.

If your kid loves animals like Little Man does, this is the zoo for you! Truly, the only "big name" animal that they didn't have was elephants, but you hardly notice that when you are checking out the lions, tigers, leopard, giraffes, camels and rhinos. Not to mention the seemingly endless primate exhibits. I truly have never seen so many different monkeys and apes in one place.

My favorite thing in the whole zoo was seeing the various little monkey babies. There were at least three that I saw, and if I wasn't chasing a two year old all over the place could have watch the mamas with their babies all day. There's just something about watching these animals nursing their babies and carrying them all around that really kept me riveted, probably because Little Lady and I are in the same boat. It was just awesome.

Little Man's favorite animal changes every time you ask him. But he really liked the deer forest, where you are able to walk through and feed and pet Fallow Deer (hint: don't forget your quarters!). I can also tell you his least favorite animal is the camel. I never really knew camels made noises, but the last two times we have been to the zoo (Southwick's and Roger Williams), the camels have been seriously growling and Little Man IS NOT a fan.

The Hubbs favorite animals were the lions. The male lion was roaring and strutting his big self all over. I don't think I have heard a lion roar in real life, and those guys are no joke.

The only thing I did not like about this zoo was that there were rides (carousel, bounce house, etc) and a playground. I definitely didn't make the trip to the zoo for my kid to go on rides or play on the playground. Little Man did pretty good when we just pointed him back in the direction of the animals.

I am telling you that this zoo was an awesome family day. Everyone (even Little Lady) had a great day. Kids 3 and under are free and The Hubbs and I were $20 each. We bought lunch there, but you can also bring in your own food if you wanted.

I really think you all need to pile the kids into the car and go right now. Then leave me a comment about what a great time you had and what your favorite animal was. I can't wait to hear all about it!! Also, check out my (unedited because I don't have that much time in my life) pictures. All of them. Because it took me forever to upload them.

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