Get Up Close and Personal With Zoo America Tour
Last month we spent a weekend in Hershey celebrating my daughter’s 10th birthday. We love visiting Hersheypark and spending time in the Sweetest Place on Earth. We spent the day at the park, followed by dinner at the new restaurant at the Hershey Lodge. The following morning we headed to Zoo America for an unforgettable experience.
We started our day pretty early for the Early Bird Tour at the Zoo. Getting kids up for 8 AM on a Sunday morning was rough but we arrived just in time for our call time.
We parked at the zoo parking lot and headed down the walk way to meet our guides for the day. It was a surprise for the kids because they had no idea what we were doing that morning.
Our two guides gave us some key rules and information about our plans for the morning. Before leaving they gave everyone the option to grab a drink and use the restroom before getting started with the tour.
The kids were excited to learn about the animals we saw that morning. Our first stop was at the Canada Linx. You can’t see them in the photos because they hid right when we walked over to the enclosure.
We stopped by the Porcupine enclosure to learn about the animal. Did you know that about 30,000 quills cover the animal’s body, from the crown of its head to the tip of its tail? When threatened by an enemy, the porcupine turns its back, tucks its head, chatters its teeth, and raises its quills. A porcupine cannot “shoot” its quills, but a strong flick of the tail can drive them into an attacker. The quills detach easily and the barbed tips become embedded on contact.
Zoo America has two Bald Eagles, both were injured in the wild and are unable to fend for themselves in the wild. We learned quite a few things about the Eagles like the fact that their nests are built near water in tall sturdy trees with a clear view of the surrounding area. The same nest is frequently used year after year and can be over five feet in diameter and weigh up to 1,000 pounds.
Our next stop was the deer exhibit, and the kids had their first opportunity to feed animals. I was quite surprised that my youngest was very excited about the experience.
My youngest was super excited about feeding the turkey and deer. He wasn’t scared at all and even pushed aside the older kids to get his turn. I was surprised at how brave he was.
Our next feeding opportunity was the Grey Wolves. Before getting started our guides gave us a list of rules to follow so the kids could participate. It was intimidating but the kids really had a good time.
We were very careful by the wolves to make sure everyone left with all their fingers. LOL. After the wolves, we visited a few more exhibits before heading to the next feeding opportunity where the kids fed some Panthers.
I opted to stay away from the Panthers with our son J.B. because I thought it would be too much for him. That’s when we spotted the huge elf in the exhibit nearby.
We stopped quickly near the bear exhibit but none of them were out for the morning so we just watched some fishes before heading to the education center to learn about some more animals.
The first animal we held was a lizard. Some of the kids were scared o give it a try but in the end, everyone ended up holding it for at least two seconds.
We ended our tour by holding a Peregrine Falcon. All the kids took a turn holding the bird. It was very different. Hershey has a falconry program and this is one of the birds used in the program. If you participate in the program, you learn about the birds and how to handle them. Visit the Hotel Hershey website to learn about the Falconry Experience.
About Zoo America Early Bird Tour
On Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays from 8 – 10 AM, observe our animals as they start their day. Join a ZooAmerica educator to get an up-close and personal look at select Zoo species during the morning hours. Participants will learn fascinating information about the animals in our outside exhibits and will have the opportunity to feed some animals during their guided walk. The tour ends with touching a reptile and holding a small bird of prey!
Cost is $49 per person (ages 3+) and includes same-day admission to the Zoo. Participants must pre-register and pre-pay 72 hours in advance. ZooAmerica can accommodate up to 10 people per tour and up to 2 tours per morning. Call 717-534-3900 to register or for more information.