There are so many fun activities for kids in Cape May (you can get more ideas in this earlier blog post). It’s no surprise that my kid’s favorite thing to do in Cape May was go to the beach. They literally jumped out of their skin with anticipation the minute we passed The Lobster House sign. My guess is that every parent has experienced that same “when can we go to the beach? When can we go to the beach? When can we go to the beach?” frenzy. Am I right? The second favorite thing my kids loved to do in Cape May—visit the Cape May Zoo.
If you have never been to the Cape May County Park & Zoo, you must go. Gerard and I still visit, even though the kids are no longer hanging out with us. So why do I like it so much? Here are a few reasons:
The entire attraction includes the zoo itself, several playgrounds, and a disc golf course. There are multiple pavilions and ample free parking. Also on the grounds, is the Tree to Tree Adventure Park with obstacle courses, Tarzan swings and zip lines. There are several different packages to choose from and even team building activities (family reunion idea???). Gerard and the kids had a blast doing this. True confession, I personally decided to pass and be an awesome cheerleader from the ground.
The zoo is the prefect size in my honest opinion. See the map here. The exhibition part of the zoo is on 85 acres, but the whole zoo including the park area is about 220 acres. It is very walkable and many of the walkways are shaded. Some of the planked walkways are elevated to provide a unique and fun view of the exhibits.
The zoo is open 364 days a year (you guessed it—not open on Christmas). There are over 550 animals in the Cape May zoo across approximately 250 different species. There are mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds throughout the zoo. The zoo is laid out in such a way as to make it easy to navigate so you won’t miss anything. As soon as you go through the gates, you will be in an area that is mostly farm animals and such. Don’t let that fool you into thinking it is lame—it is anything but. My kids favorites were the lion (which you can sometimes hear from what seemed like the entire zoo) and the giraffes. There is representation from just about every continent—and every size from large (bison) to small (golden headed lion tamarin).
The Zoo is technically free to enter, but donations are greatly appreciated. You can drop some cash in the bucket when you walk through the gate and/or easily donate online.
However, there are several other ways the zoo gets much needed funding. Rentals of the pavilions is very popular. There are 14 different pavilions in various sizes—perfect for all kinds of parties. Some have grills and electricity. The Gazebo is also available for rent. It overlooks park lake as well as the water fountain, making for a lovely wedding venue. You can also host a birthday party at the zoo with various options for zoo fun.
If you are all about the animals, schedule an Animal Encounter with giraffes, camels, capybaras or reptiles. Or adopt an animal, such as Gracie the Zebra, Beau the Giraffe. Lex the Lion and more. The Deluxe animal adoption even includes a plush animal.
Conservation and education are huge priorities at the zoo. They have partnerships and relationships with many other organizations such as Colorado State University, Mt Kenya Wildlife Conservatory, Turtle Survival alliance and many more. You can read all the details here, but supporting the zoo has far reaching implications for so many different types of animals. There is also a great deal of information that can be found on various signs as you walk throughout the zoo.
Education is foundational to the zoo as well. Many of the ways of supporting the zoo that I mentioned are based on education. When you schedule an animal encounter or a guided zoo tour, you are benefiting from the deep and varied knowledge of the experts on staff. It is a level of experience that would be impossible to give in a traditional zoo visit.
They also have a wonderful Zoo camp held throughout the summer. There is a morning session, an afternoon session and Zoology 101. The weeks are themed, such as Shark Week, Animal Ninja Warrior, Jr Zookeeper and more! This hugely popular camp fills up quickly so early registration is key. Get more info here.
If you are local to Cape May and want to be part of the education team, apply to be a docent. These are volunteer positions that are trained to help educate visitors throughout the zoo. There are several other volunteer opportunities as well. Learn more about it and apply here.
We love the Lion’s Den gift shop and Safari Café. The gift shop has lots of fun souvenirs that are the prefect memento of your visit. We found things to be reasonably priced and adorable. This is also where you can rent strollers, motorized scooters, and wheelchairs. Of course, you are always able to use your own.
You are not allowed to bring food into the Zoo, but non-alcoholic beverages are allowed. The café is a great place to grab a bite and offer snacks, treats and lunch/dinner type items. They also have two kiosks inside the zoo that sell their famous Animal Sipper Cups with lemonade. When the kids were little, we had quite a collection with the elephant and flamingo as the faves.
So, I will say it again—you must visit the Cape May Zoo! This year! Make sure it is on your agenda! Over 1,300 5 star Trip Advisor reviews can’t be wrong! People literally rave about how much fun they had with and without the kids. I hope you do go, and if you do—please consider donating.
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