9 Things My Son Learned During His Zoo Visit

Zoo visit learnings – Going to the zoo has many learnings besides learning about the different animals. For one, our toddler was able to learn that his animal toys and stuffed toys are actually living creatures and not just inactive things with names. 

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I’ll share with you some learnings we never knew we did during our son’s zoo visit. 

Learning animal sounds

Have you ever wondered why is the zoo a good field trip, especially for younger children? Besides getting to know animals in the real world, your children can hear animal sounds personally. 

When our toddler was younger, I started teaching him animal sounds and it’s one of the first few things he has learned before he turned one. Even though, he doesn’t know his ABC’s yet, I’m sure that when he hears animal sounds, he knows what they are. 

The face he made upon hearing the roar of the lion was priceless! He was both shocked and amazed by God’s creation upon hearing the strange lion roaring sound. The zoo might not be the best place for animals, but it’s a great learning opportunity for children!


Learning how to read maps

Things learned in the zoo, zoo learnings, read map, how to read map

Sure, my son doesn’t know how to read yet (because he’s only 3!) but he seemed to like browsing the Nogeyama Zoo map when we went to Japan! It made him feel like he was literate about what he sees on the map. 

So, how does looking at the pictures and unfamiliar words on a zoo map help young children who don’t know how to read benefit? You can read out loud what you see on a map while pointing to the pictures and words to your child. 

Why not teach or ask about colors and animal names while you are waiting for the snack during your rest time? It’s the best time to teach children during travel and connect just like reading a book for them. 


One of the things that people ask me when I say I’d like to homeschool my child is “How will he learn socialization?” Little did they know that there are a lot of things you can do to enhance your child’s social skills (and I’m not talking about enrolling them in a traditional school). 

To simplify, socialization is one of the skills we learn from zoo visits. How? Children love interacting with fellow children (I’ve seen this many many times with my son). Without worrying about anything, children interact with others regardless of their age, color, and religion. 

My son takes quite a while to warm up before he plays with the people we introduce him to, yet with other children whom we don’t know, surprisingly, he doesn’t mind sharing toys! So, while we think that sitting at a school desk for more than half a day is the only way to enhance socialization skills, think again. 

Animals not available in your country

red panda, bear, red bear, zoo animals
Not all zoos have Red Pandas.

Another benefit of a zoo visit experience is by showing your kids the other animals not found in your country. For example, a red panda is not always seen in our country’s zoos. By introducing them to our children, it enhances their knowledge about some of the animals not commonly taught in books. 

Polar bears are not usually found in hotter places, and you can explain to your children why they aren’t found in all zoos. Sometimes, we might think that young children don’t understand what we are saying, in reality, they do. 


Get close to animals

empathy, close to animals, animal encounter
Close encounters with animals help children develop empathy.

Much like seeing artists and personalities, children can feel like getting close to animals when they see them in real life. I found my son staring intently at animals during a visit to the zoo. He seems to be watching their actions curiously and getting to know them. 

It’s a delightful sight that my son enjoys looking at animals even though some might not have the best smell. It seems that my son develops empathy upon seeing how animals walk, crawl, or even sleep. 

…And nature

get close to nature, zoo visits
A great way to let your children explore nature is through zoo visits.

It’s not every day that my son gets to enjoy playing outdoors, especially since we don’t enjoy the heat of the sun too much. Thankfully, when we went to Japan, he was able to play on the grass (and even lay there) because of the cool weather. 

He kept running around everywhere and the zoo is a safe space for children to run freely without worrying about cars. Parks are everywhere in Japan so if you are not fans of animals, you can also bring your children there for them to go wild. 

Increase environmental awareness

dolphin, aquarium

I took this photo at the Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium instead of a zoo, because sea creatures are very limited at zoos compared to aquariums. And similarly, animals at the aquariums also need our love.

Seeing the animals and plants around, our toddlers can get to increase environmental awareness. The experience to get close to animals and nature is a fun way for children to learn that there is life beyond humans and inanimate greens. 

The right way to feed animals

Feeding his stuffed animals at home…

Our son was lucky to have a zoo-feeding animal experience here in the Philippines. While he knew how to feed his stuffed animals at home, the experience taught him the right way of feeding animals without choking them.

giraffe feeding, feeding animals, feeding experience
…vs feeding real animals in the zoo.

We went to Avilon Zoo, Rizal, a few months ago and they have a giraffe-feeding session. All you have to do is to pay for the giraffe’s food (in this case, it was carrots) and you and your child can feed them.

By letting our son experience such kinds of activities, we are letting him feel that animals are living things that need so much care from us. And that by feeding them, we, humans, partake in a special role to help them survive the world. 


That his stuffed animal toys are big in real life

rhinoceros, zoo, animals
A real rhinoceros is way bigger than him…

Our son has a lot of stuffed animal toys at home and he loves them dearly! When we had a zoo visit and saw the same animal as his stuffed toy, I reminded him about his animal playmates in the bedroom and it instantly made his day!

Seeing animals in real life has taught our son to know the different physical features and sounds they make. I found that my son was able to identify drawings of animals more after he has seen them in the zoo. 

rhino, rhinoceros, stuffed animal, stuffed toy
…vs his stuffed rhino, who he can bring along during travels.

It was a proud moment for me as a mom because I knew that my son has learned many things even though he hasn’t even started schooling yet. And it’s one of the advantages of delaying schooling –  being able to teach more outside of books. 


The takeaway

It was fun seeing our toddler get close to the animals and nature. If you think that zoos are not educational, think again. There are so many things to learn about when you stroll along the zoo to let your children see and meet animals and plants. 

What we learn from zoo visits might not be what you (and your children) will learn. However, you’ll find out that there’s more to learn than just seeing the animals in the zoo. I hope you are more decided on bringing your children to the zoo more often now that you have seen its benefits. 

What were your children’s learning experiences when you brought them to the zoo? I’d love to hear about your story in the comments section below!

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