When planning the trip we took to the Phoenix area last month, we had a few things in mind. Sun, heat, shorts, t-shirts, flip flops, and good times with family were all on the list. On the other hand, while dreaming away of our visit, COLD and RAIN were very far from our minds. The rain of course did have it’s benefits, but it also meant shifts in plans.
With precipitation in the forecast, we needed to be careful in our activity choices, and we certainly weren’t about to take the day off from exploring the area to hunker down at home. Bergen wouldn’t allow that anyway.
The day before this adventure, while Bergen was tucked away for the night and Slaed and his Mom tried their luck at bingo, I scoured handouts, magazines and newspaper clippings (all bundled together by my mother-in-law) for a proper outing given the circumstances. The Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium seemed to be our best bet.
With it’s location in Litchfield Park, AZ (Northwest of Phoenix), the attraction is not too far from where we were staying in Sun City. Given that the facility now has the addition of an aquarium, I knew that along with a few other indoor exhibits, we’d have enough coverage in the event of a downpour. Also, zoos are fun for all ages and not just adult or kid focused.
As we arrived, we were faced with a few negatives. The first: A hoard of middle school students. I don’t know about you, but middle school students by the dozen terrify me, even with a background as a school teacher. The noise level alone sends me running for the hills. One on one, and in small groups, however, the 12-14 year old set can be quite lovely. The second negative: The price. At $30 dollars per adult, I thought the cost was quite steep for the zoo’s size and offerings.
Cautiously optimistic, we charged ahead (in the opposite direction of the middle schoolers), and began to explore some exhibits starting with birds and monkeys near the entrance. While the creatures were beautiful, I couldn’t help but notice the tight quarters of their living space. It was also hard to overlook the employees smoking right outside the animal’s home. My hope is that their time in these enclosures is temporary for purposes of people to view them, but I’m afraid this is probably not the case.
We moved on to the petting zoo area where there are a variety of animals for kids and adults to interact with. Tortoises, goat, chickens, and even small deer were waiting for us to spend time with them. You could of course buy a handful of pellets for 50 cents to feed some of the animals. Unfortunately, we learned that Bergen is absolutely terrified of petting zoos, or possibly goats? He was not comfortable walking around the fenced area, and screamed and cried, so needless to say, we made a quick exit. This was fine by me as it was difficult to find a clear spot to step in the mess of goat droppings.
As we traveled up past the porcupine and meerkats, things started to look up. Bergen enjoyed seeing many of the African animals at a distance, and we were surprised at how many creatures we saw that we have actually never seen before. We marveled at large groups of hoofed animals like gazelles, antelopes, and addax. We also had the chance to see many animals that we see from afar (or hiding) at our zoo, quite close. One particular favorite of our group was a trio of lovely warthogs who certainly lived up to their name!
Our funniest encounter had to be the New Guinea Singing Dog. If we hadn’t read the sign, we honestly would have thought they plucked a little mutt from the Humane Society, and put him in the zoo. I now know that the singing K-9’s are a true species of dog. Their howl really does sound like singing, but they seem to run around just like any other dog would in their backyard. We couldn’t help but think of Norman, our pup back home.
With the rains headed our way and lunchtime approaching, we squeezed in our inside visit with the baby white tiger, hurried past the flamingos, and took some time to explore the aquarium areas. Just outside the indoor portion, by the log flume ride, of the aquarium is a family of river otters. These guys are adorable, and always my favorite at all the zoos and aquariums we visit. They just know how to have a good time swimming, sliding, and standing up on their hind legs to check something out.
We got to see some beautiful fish, and there is one station where kids can touch (and sternly enforced not pick up) starfish, urchins, and even feed stingrays.
Would I go back? Absolutely not.
Do I feel like it was a complete waste of time? Of course not. Together we laughed, got to see animals we’ve never seen before, and learned a few things along the way.
Info to Know:
- Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium is located about 40 minutes Northwest of Phoenix.
- 16501 W. Northern Ave., Litchfield Park, AZ 85340, (623)-935-WILD (9453)
- Zoo: 9am-6pm Daily
- Aquarium: 9am-9pm Daily
- Fees: Adults $29 + tax, Kids (3-12 years) $14.25, Children (3 and under) FREE
- Check local newspapers and websites for a possible $4-off coupon.
- For lunch, we dined at Dillon’s Barbeque, which is located on the zoo and aquarium premises. We were more impressed with the location (visited last year) in Peoria food-wise, but here we got to sit right next the shark tank, which was quite an experience.
Visited a great zoo or aquarium? Tell us about it in the comments! Visited a not-so-great one? We want to hear about that too!