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Camping at the Zoo
By: Brenda, Director of Education and Volunteers, Audubon Zoo
This morning it was cool outside and I flew through the house flinging open all the windows. Autumn is my favorite time of year (though it is a lot different up in the Midwest than it is here in the semi-tropics of southern Louisiana). It brings back childhood memories of hayrides, weiner roasts, apple picking and camping out. We may not have hayrides or weiner roasts here at the Audubon Zoo, but we do have camping.
Safari After Dark is urban camping with a little bit of local nature, some creature comforts and a dash of African Safari added in. I love our Safari After Dark’s. I love them not only because they are fun to work and plan for, but because they create the most wonderful family memories. Camping can be a wonderful bonding experience and a special connection to nature. Children love the fact that they are in the zoo when everyone else is gone and that they are sleeping in a tent outdoors with their family.
At a Safari After Dark we do lots of things like crafts, campfire, s’mores (a camping requirement!), behind-the-scenes tours and animals up-close. We even do a late night hike through the zoo. Those things are all great fun and make it worth the price, but the real value is in the camping experience; setting up the tent, eating a picnic dinner, cuddling up in a sleeping bag, sleeping nose to nose with your family. Add to that the experience of touching a large snake or an African pygmy hedgehog and waking to the 5am roar of “Bubba” our large male lion!
Children grow up very quickly. We need to spend time with them, time disconnected from electronics and the outside world. An overnight family event at the Audubon Zoo will be an experience that your children will remember for the rest of their lives. We have three Safari After Dark’s this fall. If your family is stressed, overworked and not connecting like you want, sign up now. You’ll go home sleepy and just a little smelly, but happy that you did it.