I took Jane last week to the Franklin Park Zoo for one of our first official activity outings since March, and she kept saying to me “Mom this is a REALLY fun day.” I totally agree – it was a really fun time, and it’s amazing what a tiny slice of “normal” can do for your outlook these days. Zoo New England has officially reopened both their locations with tons of health and safety measures in place, and I was so impressed with whole experience.
It’s definitely different than the last time we visited, but with a few changes to make the experience safer it was really enjoyable for both kids and adults. A few things to know before you go: First, the tickets to enter the zoo are now pre-purchased online and are timed for specific entrance hours to help set capacity limits and pace the entrances of guests. We had the first tickets of the day and there were only a handful of other families spaced far apart waiting to get in. Jane remembered the longer line we waited on to get into the zoo last year and actually asked me “where did all of the people go?” – so it was very clear that the capacity limits were working. Another big change is that the flow of the zoo is now a one-way loop too, to help control guest flow. That experience was really nice, it felt like the one-way flow paced people so no one section was overcrowded. Jane also loved following the arrows on the sidewalks to guide her to each animal feature, and there were clear X markers on the ground to designate 6-foot distances to help people be mindful of their space. One thing that also comforted me about the experience was seeing tons of zoo staff sanitizing any of the railings or plexiglass barriers in front of the animals. I think the whole visit was almost more enjoyable with these new precautions because we didn’t have to compete with other guests to see some of the animals that draw bigger crowds – we had the space to stay at each animal for a few minutes longer than we had on previous visits. Of course, the biggest change at the zoo is that you have to wear masks the whole time, and I was very curious how Jane would deal with that for a longer period of time.  We’ve been practicing wearing masks, but she usually has to keep them on for a few minutes if we pop into a store very quickly. On the drive to the zoo I explained to her that we had to keep the masks on the whole time, and definitely incentivized her with the promise of an ice cream pop and a treat at the gift shop if she was a good listener and kept the mask on the whole time. She is highly motivated by ice cream and I was so proud of how well she did with the mask (especially on a warm day!). She certainly earned her ice cream pop (and tried some of mine too) at the end of the visit. Even though the experience was different than previous visits to the Franklin Park Zoo, it was a really fun day for both Jane and I, and a nice little slice of “normal” in very abnormal times.

Please note: This post was created in paid partnership with Zoo New England. All opinions, images and content are my own. Thank you for supporting brands that support this site.