Go in the winter, without kids: Some tips for visiting the zoo

The zoo, someone once said, is an excellent place to study the habits of human beings. Some people rush to see everything, others spend two hours staring at the crocodiles. Some parents spend the entire day trying to entertain (and placate) their children, others leave the kids with a babysitter. So what’s the best way to see the zoo?

Over at Curator Magazine, Matt Kirkland offers some thoughtful tips for making the best of your trip to the zoo, whether its in your hometown or in a city thousands of miles away. Among them:

  • “Go cold. Winter is often best: the crowds are thinner and the animals are more active.” So what if it’s cold? Remember, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.
  • “Under no circumstances bring children.” Sure, the zoo is typically thought of as a great place for kids, but, Matt writes, “Children, for all their wide-eyed wonder at the world, have very little sense of subtlety, of artistry, of the eye-opening encounter with The Other that a zoo should offer.” While I don’t personally endorse this tip– I think the zoo is a great place for kids– I suggest trying to bring one at a time if possible. This will increase your own enjoyment as well as that of your child.
  • “If possible, wear khaki. Yes, the zookeeper look is unfashionable, but the animals dig it.” Who knew?
  • And perhaps most importantly, “Take your time,” Matt writes.Remember, when you approach an animal at the zoo, you’re not a patron demanding a performance. Think of yourself as a student, patiently waiting for the master to reveal something. One of the most thrilling half-hours I’ve spent in the last year was watching a slow-motion battle between two long-necked turtles in a very small tank.”

Check out ten more tips here.