For years, my sister and her family lived right across the street from ZooAmerica (we could see – and smell some of the animals from her front door). And yet, before this month, I had never spent much time ZooAmerica. What a missed opportunity with my kids! Now that I’ve been introduced to the zoo, I can’t wait to take my kids back. Although I think I got a little spoiled with our behind-the-scenes access – the kids might expect the same. I visited ZooAmerica while on a press trip to learn all that Hershey, PA has to offer. Accommodations and activities during the press trip were provided, but all opinions are my own. Note: photos that do NOT have my watermark on them were provided courtesy of Hershey.
About ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park
ZooAmerica is an 11-acre, walkthrough zoo that cares for more than 200 animals representing more than 60 species from five regions of North America. The thing that I loved the most about ZooAmerica was that every animal at the zoo was native to North America. These are animals that live near us – animals that you can see in the wild throughout the United States.
The exhibits are broken up into 5 bio-climactic regions of North America:
- Southern Swamps
- The Great Southwest
- Eastern Woodlands
- Big Sky Country
The other thing I loved about ZooAmerica was that the 11-acre size is manageable to be able to see all of the exhibits in a day without totally wearing the kids (and mom or dad) out. I’ve been to too many zoos that were so huge that there was no way to see everything in one day.
ZooAmerica prides itself on its focus on education and conservation. The zoo offers a variety of educational programs for people of all ages – kids and adults alike. You can check out the zoo’s website for details on upcoming programs and events.
History of ZooAmerica:
ZooAmerica opened as Hershey Zoo in 1910, when Milton S. Hershey received a dozen prairie dogs. That zoo closed in 1971, but it reopened in its present format – a facility that highlights North American animals – on May 7, 1978. ZooAmerica currently operates as a department of Hersheypark.
The Zoo is open daily year round (except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day). Same-day admission is free with Hersheypark tickets. Hours vary by season.
Our Experience at ZooAmerica
The first animal that we met was Mumford the grey faced screech owl. He weighed less than half a pound but was FULL of attitude. He was a hoot! (that was a bad joke…lol) We each got a chance to hold Mumford, and I’m happy to report that none of our shoes were ruined in the process. It was close, though…
We also had the chance to see baby alligators, born in Florida in August, and on loan at the zoo. They still live inside at this point.
I was impressed, as we walked through the zoo and saw various animals, that our guide, zoo curator Dale Snyder, was able to point out where each of the animals came from and what their names were. The animals at ZooAmerica are often rescue animals – animals that have been injured in the wild and would have died if they had not found a new home.
We met Chief and Butch, the black bears, and even had the opportunity to feed them berries. Dale taught us a command that Butch (the larger bear) knows well. If you hold your fist out towards his face, he will lick your fist and then expect a berry for his “trick.” Butch had to lick my hand quite a few times in order to catch it on camera.
Do your kids (or you??) love to visit the zoo? You will love ZooAmerica!
Photostory Friday – Give Me Your Best Shot Link Up
Link up your photo posts from this past week on the linky below.
Please note: there will be no link up next week due to the holidays. I will be celebrating with family off line. I hope you have a fabulous Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate!
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Sandy Weinstein says
i went to hersey park many yrs ago. i dont remember a zoo when i was there. i was at a nearby horseshow and my horse went lame so i could not show, so my mother and i went sight seeing. it was fun. we went thru the factory. i love zoo’s, nc has a great zoo.
Janet W. says
What a fun experience! How neat to be able to feed the black bears! My grandsons would love to do that!
shelly peterson says
This would be an amazing place to visit. Sadly we have never been to a zoo before. The whole family would love a place like this.
Cynthia R says
I love the little mini owl you got to hold. I didn’t even know about hershey park having a zoo, i want to go!
The kids do get an hands on experience here, especially about the big birds.