Brno Family: Brno Zoo Through the Eyes of Toddlers
Things are different from a lower point of view. Photo credit: Bruno Zalubil.
Parents often mistakenly assume that their children will appreciate generally accepted highlights. The fact is that kids just see things differently.
For example, adults know that seeing two leopards playfully chasing each other is special. Kids, maybe not. That can be frustrating and hard to accept. I mean, really, isn’t obvious that an anaconda slowly moving along a tree branch is cool and, come on, how can watching a polar bear jump into the water be anything but interesting for anyone of any age?
Yet, when you go to the zoo with children, you have to be prepared to make adjustments: the super-cute meerkats may be overshadowed by a 2-year-old temper tantrum and the brown bears — “Look! They’re right there, three meters away!” — may be taken as commonplace and wholly uninteresting.
So, what exactly is interesting at the Brno Zoo for toddlers?
On a recent trip, the highlights included:
- a woman pressure-washing the seal pool;
- the tubular slide near brown bear exhibit;
- various landscaped mini-waterfalls;
- the sand box in the children’s area; and
- caterpillars — not caterpillars in captivity, mind you, but caterpillars that were crawling across the pathways, on the children’s chalkboards and on the spinning containers that are part of the recycling exhibit.
Brno Zoo is more than worth it at any time of year and it is always a fun experience. Kids just see it differently.
Most exhibits at the Brno Zoo provide excellent sightlines from the baby-stroller level to adult eye-level. Some are tricky. The lion enclosure, for example, has rolling terrain covered with brown grasses and shrubbery. A significant amount of searching may be required to find one of the four lions. This is not a favorite activity for attention-challenged children.
It is a triumph when you finally find one.
Me: “Look! There’s a lion!”
Me: “There, its head is just over that little hill.”
Daughter: “I don’t see it.”
Me: “How can you not see it? It’s right there!”
The problem becomes obvious when you squat down to manually aim the little head in the correct direction: a meter difference in height is a big difference. (Geometry is important after all.)
Daughter: “I have to pee.”
The tiger exhibit has an expansive outdoor area and three indoor compartments with floor-to-ceiling windows. (Pro tip: Point out the cracked glass to spice things up.) You never really know what you will get until you stand in front of each window. On this visit: empty, empty, big tiger devouring a rabbit.
Son: “He’s eating.”
Daughter: “Is that a rabbit?”
Me, suddenly stressed out that I will now need to explain the circle of life, why the cute bunny has been reduced to two hind legs, why the tiger has bloody fur hanging out of his mouth . . .
Daughter: “I’m hungry.”
Me: “Let’s find a bench for snacks.”
In the (really cool) birds-of-prey aviary.
Me: “Look kids, the Bald Eagle is about to fly. It’s the symbol of America!”
Daughter: “Dad, let’s go.”
The Brno Zoo has 397 species and 1,840 animals.
Cost (March to October / November to February)
Pensioners, students, children 3–15 years old, handicapped people: 90kc / 70kc
Adults: 120kc / 100kc
Family entrance (2 adults + 2–3 children 3–15 years old): 350kc / 270kc
Children under 3 years old: Free
April–September: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
October: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
November–February: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
March: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Trams: No. 1 (from main train station, direction to Bystrc)
No. 3, 11 (from “Česká” stop, direction to Bystrc)
Buses: No. 50, 52
Trolleybuses: No. 30 (from “Královo Pole, nádraží” station, direction to Bystrc)
There is a tiny parking lot at the front gate. A public lot is two blocks to the south. It is advisable to go by public transportation.
Tip: The Brno zoo is open every day of the year and very few people take advantage of it during the colder months. The winter is a great time to visit. Parking is easily available, even in the tiny parking lot at the front gate, and most of the animals are still around. Simply going to the indoor exhibits is worth the price of admission.
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