And here we are – 26 letters later – Z.
I can’t believe I’m going to talk about Zoos. When I first decided to restart this Travel Turtle as a family travel blog, I read a lot of like-minded blogs. There was a one or two-week period when I kept reading about zoos. I turned to my husband (we were in a car) and I said, “I don’t know why people keep writing about zoos. I mean, they’re zoos. What’s there to know? You go in and look at animals. Besides, why would people go to zoos when they’re visiting a new city anyway?”
Then a funny thing happened. Over the course of this past year, I’ve been to several zoos.
Turns out there are legitimate reasons to visit a zoo, or a science center, or a lot of other types of family friendly attractions that could exist closer to home when you’re far from home. Before having kids, I hadn’t visited a zoo since at least high school. So it surprised me that they are actually interesting.
I was kind of against them because of the cruelty to animals thing, and I’ll get to that in a second.
Zoos and science centers are not the same the world over. When you are traveling, the nearest zoo will have a large section devoted to local animals. The nearest science center will give insight into the natural and scientific story of the region – and it’s really cool.
So, don’t be like me and dismiss a zoo or a science center while on vacation because you have an annual pass to the one in your neighborhood. You can learn a lot from both. (And, of course, your kids will love them, they have playgrounds, hand-on activities, and kid-friendly eating establishments.)
Why read a blog post about zoos?
This is where the “who writes about zoos and science centers” comes in. I never visited zoos because of fear of animal mistreatment. I never stayed knowledgeable in zoo facilities because I just never went. Then I visited one that was near me and had great reviews. That’s when I discovered the value in a good zoo. Employees are not just people who needed any job. These are competitive jobs that require some level of interest and education. These people are people who care about animals. They’re animal advocates and they’re showing the visitors why animals matter.
Not all zoos are created equally, unfortunately. I know I have some readers that may have good information for me to look into to make sure I’m visiting a zoo that really puts the animals first. I’d love to hear your opinions about this. What should I look out for, if you don’t visit zoos why not, what (if anything) would you recommend in the place of zoos?
In some of my research I’ve discovered that in the United States, the USDA is the only government organization regulating the treatment of animals at zoos and aquariums. There are various accreditation agencies, each with their own standards, but membership into those agencies are also fee-based. Be aware of that distinction when you see that a zoo has a certain accreditation.
For the zoos I have been lucky to visit the past 12 months, I’ve had a good experience. For me, this is invaluable. My son loves animals. I want to take him to a place that will foster his interest, where animals are properly treated, and employees are enthusiastic and knowledgeable. This is why I read reviews.
Now I’m putting it here, for the last letter of the A-Z Challenge. It’s an introduction to what I’ll be doing in May. One thing that has been lacking in my website are reviews about places like zoos, science centers, and tourist spots. These places often have a website filled with the practical information such as prices, directions coming from the highway or public transportation, maps, and hours of operations. That’s only part of what parents want to know, though. They want to know if the price was worth it, if the animals’ environments are up to a high standard, if the kids like it, if the food was good, and other pointers and opinions they can’t find on the official website. And since this is a family travel blog, I want to provide that information.
So please come back in May and read about a few of the zoos we’ve visited, some of our favorite science centers, and other fun vacation spots (my line up includes scenic views in Austria, Paris, and Switzerland, government buildings, amusement parks, museums, mountains, beaches, castles, national parks, and UNESCO sites)
Thank you A-Z Challenge Participants
Thank you to everyone who joined me, read along, and commented during this challenge. It was truly a challenge (I had around 70 posts before starting, now I’m at 96!). Every day I highlighted a travel blogger participant. Here’s a complete list of those blogs. Some of them have kept up, some of them are still working on it, and some of them are finished at the moment, but at some point in this challenge they provided me with fun travel information and for that – thank you!
- Dream Euro Trip
- Chasing the Donkey
- Have Blog Will Travel
- A Southern Gypsy
- A Taste of Travel
- Contented Traveler
- A Brit and a Southerner
- Reflections en Route
- Travelling Book Junkie
- A Passion and a Passport
- Passports and Pushchairs
- Laugh Quotes
- Donna on Palawan
- Uber Random
- Anabel’s Blog
- Bay Essence
- Adventuring at Home
- Winnie Views
- Black Frog Publishing
- Thee Getaway Gal
- Mental Mosaic
- Traveling Suitcase
- Amy and the Great World
- Expat Liv
- Guide and Travel
One last thing. I’ve started a Triberr account for anyone who participated in the A-Z challenge and wants to continue to connect. I find it to be a really easy sharing tool, if you have any questions, feel free to ask. If you want to join the A-Z Travel Bloggers tribe, click here and let me know.