Just because you and the kids are cooped up in the house doesn’t mean you can’t experience the fun of catching up with your favorite furry friends at your favorite zoo or animal conservatory. Zoos and animal habitats have also moved their program online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When visiting a zoo, online or in-person, you can confirm the organization is kind to and cares for its animals with the the American Humane Program. This group is one of the nation’s most influential certifiers of humane animal practices and promotes the welfare of animals everywhere. By visiting parks that have been Humane Certified, you can visit an organization knowing it cares for their animals as much as you do. Check out this list of Humane Certified Parks.
Virtual field trips to zoos are an affordable and safe option for families, and are also a great way to keep the kids busy at home. Many of the zoo websites on the Humane Certified list also offer great educational opportunities and activities for kids.
Through the Humane Certified Parks link, you’re not just confined to local zoos and animal habitats. You can check out zoos all around the world, all from the comfort of your own home. Whether you want to keep an eye on your favorite otter at the Mote Lab, or check out the exhibits at Zoomarine Italia in Rome, there are a plethora of resources available if you or the kids miss the excitement of exploring nature and wildlife. Try out a virtual zoo field trip for yourself!
Residents of New Jersey and beyond may be familiar with the Turtle Back Zoo. Essex 4-H traditionally hosts their Healthy Small Animal Club meetings at this site, though this is on hiatus currently. Home to animals like sea turtles, jaguars, and goats, the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange makes for a fun and educational visit. Currently, they are open at limited capacity for in-person experiences through reservations, but they also offer virtual “behind the scenes” looks at some of their most popular exhibits.
By Sidra Razzaq, Department of 4-H Youth Development, Federal Work Study Student and Marissa Staffen, County 4-H Agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension.