Animals Around the World… At Toledo Zoo

For one of our weekly field trips this summer, we took the campers to the Toledo Zoo, which sits about 45 minutes away from Ann Arbor via the freeway. Everyone had to arrive early to the site that day in order to make the most of the day. The kids were bright-eyed and ready to go, while I was sipping on my third cup of coffee. I knew it was going to be a long day with the kids, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t excited! I hadn’t been to a zoo in over ten years when we took this trip. On our way there, we took the “scenic” route, which added an extra two hours to our travel time. This caused everyone to be a bit antsy and cranky upon our arrival.

Once we arrived at the zoo, we split into our designated animal groups (I was the leader of the penguin team,) and we entered the zoo. While the other groups were more preoccupied with the gift shops, my group went to visit the arctic area of the zoo. The first animal we saw was a polar bear, which the kids excitedly started listing facts about, as we’d learned about polar bears when our camp “visited” the Arctic Circle. After seeing the polar bears, sea lions, and other arctic natives, we moved onto their favorite part: food. The Carnivore Cafe had a variety of food to offer, so naturally both kids and counselors alike took their time choosing and eating there.

Next our team visited the lizard and amphibian areas of the zoo, which many of my kids enjoyed. I was worried that they’d be freaked our by the snakes and such, but they genuinely seemed curious about the animals. We made a brief visit to the safari zone, mostly watched giraffes eating out of people’s hands, and headed to the aviary. Our trip to the aviary was short-lived since the smell of bird poo scared away the kids.

After yet another snack stop for ice cream and funnel cakes, the team made our final animal visit before we had to leave. We chose to see the aquarium and the kids naturally flocked to the touch pools. While I personally wouldn’t like touching starfish and sea urchins, the kids seemed to love it!

We had to begin our travels back to the entrance of the zoo, and the team had to make it’s most dreaded stop yet: the gift shop. I ended up buying a goofy clown fish hat and an arctic fox plush for my roommates, and a dolphin bracelet for myself. A few of the kids struggled to count their money and make sure they had enough for their souvenirs, so I helped them with their math and made sure everyone was happy. All the teams gathered to take a group photo, then we were on our way! We actually took the freeway on the way back to Ann Arbor, so our trip home wasn’t nearly as exhausting!

Our trip the the Toledo Zoo was probably one of my favorite camp stories just because of the sheer amount of fun I had with my group. It was great to see them recall what we’d talk about during our animal discussions and excitedly talk about it once they saw the actual animal!

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