A Visit to the Franklin Park Zoo

... transported to exotic lands in Boston

by Elizabeth Samit

On Tuesday, November 8th, my friend and I spent the afternoon at the Franklin Park Zoo. My last zoo visit was to the much smaller Stone Zoo in Stoneham. In December, I purposely drive down Fellsway East just to catch a glimpse of the Stone Zoo’s holiday lights display (best viewed from inside the Zoo).  

About two years ago, Zoo New England (which operates both zoos) was in such dire financial straits that it nearly closed one of these zoos. At the time, I expected the Stone Zoo would be the victim of budget cuts, and was relieved when both remained open - since they are each unique.

Being farther away from Melrose, I hadn’t made an outing to the Franklin Park Zoo in around five years. The day of our sojourn was unusually warm and sunny (sandwiched between those chilly stretches).  

And, perhaps because it was around their feeding time, the animals and birds were particularly lively - and really seemed to be posing for our cameras.

The paved paths provided us with a pleasant, mostly flat stroll and needed exercise. (It’s worth the trip just for that!) Also, the exhibits are a good way to pretend you’ve journeyed to Africa or Asia for a brief while. The landscaped water fowl area contained an array of unusual–looking ducks, and it reminded me a little of the meditational setting of the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco. An area devoted to farm animals designed especially for children is also worth a stop-over.

Of course, no visit would be complete without a meander in the Gift Shop, with its array of items unavailable in a toy store. (Where else could you buy a cuddly, stuffed alligator or snake?) I always find something I want to purchase, which is why I told my friend we had to depart quickly!

If you’re looking for some activity to do with family or friends (with or without children) this holiday season, consider a visit to these two zoos.  Free passes are available through the Boston Public Library.  But, if you can afford it, they need financial support to continue to survive.

--December 1, 2011

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