A couple of Sundays ago we went with a friend and his kids to the Reston Zoo. However, the word "zoo" is a little misleading. While the Reston Zoo does have animals to look at, but that is only one of the highlights. Almost all of the animals are free-range and you can pet, feed, and take pictures with them as well. A Buffalo even licked my son with its long black tongue. Prices vary depending on what you decide to do, but entry fees range from $9-$12 dollars, with additional fees for feeding the animals. A wagon ride is included in the price of admission and is the best way to meet a lot of the animals. Want to pet a camel? or feed that buffalo? Hop on the wagon! There is very little shelter, so remember to bring hats, appropriate shoes, lots of water and sunscreen.
When you have all your feed and you're ready to go meet the animals, the first place you're most likely to go is the barn with the sheep, goats, and lambs. Give the kids a cup of feed and let them have fun with the animals. This is a great learning opportunity for the kids on sharing the feed, how animals eat, not to be afraid of domestic farm animals, and how to ration the feed so they don't run out. The reptile house also excites with an anaconda the size of a car, and several other less-than-cute, and not-so-cuddly, but very interesting reptiles. Then head over to the kangaroo pens, chicken coops, and rooster area.
After that, head over to the waiting area for the wagon ride. This is one of the few areas with shade, so it provided a nice break in the heat. When on the wagon, you can feed and pet all the animals except the zebras. The wagon ride takes you around the animal park to see all the animals, stopping here and there so you can take pictures and pet and feed the animals (they come right up to you - they're expecting you to feed them, so they are very friendly). If you don't have any food left, don't worry, just stick out your hand to pet them and they'll come over because that's what they've come to expect, and they'll lick your hand - just don't freak out over the size of those tongues!! After the wagon ride, we strolled around a bit; my son fed the Egyptian geese (very friendly) but not the Canadian geese (very unfriendly), fed some rabbits in cages, looked at some chicks hatching, and some tortoises stomping around.
The Reston Zoo is a nice way to spend some family time, and for a mid-range priced activity it offers a lot for the money. For more information, including hours, which vary by season, how to purchase a season pass or book a group or birthday party, visit www.restonzoo.com .
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