By Robby Osborne
Lions, Tigers, and…Elephants? Oh my. With the weather warming up, the local zoos are coming out of their hibernation, and are opening for the year. Zoos, like the animals they take care of, come in all shapes and sizes. These Virginia Zoos offer a more familiar environment which allows a more interactive experience with animals, while at the same time providing an educational experience. While everyone has seen llamas on television, these zoos allow you the chance to be nuzzled by them.
The family-owned and operated Leesburg Animal Park opens its doors for 2014 on March 1st. The park offers a host of of exotic animal exhibits, has a contact zone where children (and adults) can feed and pet animals, and wagon, pony, or even camel rides through the animal park.
The Reston Zoo, opening March 8, features walking paths which allow the chance to catch the animals at play, including the New Budgie Adventure Aviary and Reptile House. The Reston Zoo also owns a petting barn for feeding and bonding with the barnyard animals. Every ticket to the Reston Zoo includes a Zoofari Wagon Ride, where guests recieve a guided safari through the Zoo, learning about the various animals as they come up to wagons to be fed.
The Natural Bridge Zoo, opening March 22, is located 183 miles away from Fairfax, but is the only place in Virginia that offers a chance to ride African Elephants. The Natural Bridge Zoo opened its doors in 1972 with a mission to help in the breeding of endangered animals, and has one of the most extensive collection of exhibits of any zoo in Virginia.
Zoos allow the unique opportunity not just to see animals, but to learn about the creatures that share the world with us.
Leesburg Animal Park
– 19270 James Monroe Highway Leesburg, 20175
– Kids: $10, Adults $12, Kids V.I.P Pass: $14
– Opens March 1
– 1228 Hunter Mill Road, Vienna, 22182
– Kids: $8, Adult: $11
– Opens March 8
Natural Bridge Zoo
– 5784 S Lee Hwy Natural Bridge, 24578
– Kids: $8, Adults $12
– Opens March 22