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Exploring: The Reston Zoo

2012 July 17
by Becky

Though he won’t be partying for another week or so, Ethan’s buddy Quinn (my friend Kristan’s little guy) turned two on Monday and we celebrated with a trip to the Reston Zoo. Ah waiting for the weekend to have a party but still celebrating on the “real” day…just one little way we are able to stretch out birthdays!

When Kristan proposed this plan, I’d never heard of the Reston Zoo. But the word “zoo” means animals so I said “We’re in!’ Ethan and I are suckers for all things furry or feathery (scaly is usually OK too!).

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If you’ve seen the movie “We Bought A Zoo”, then you already have a pretty good idea of what this place is like. (If you haven’t seen the movie, finish reading this and go watch it!!) It’s near Dulles airport, about 35 minutes from Old Town, and is comprised of small, clean enclosures for small-ish animals in a quaint and cozy setting that is perfect for little kids. All the animals were in plain view and most were very active and pet-able. I felt a little like we were back on The Farm—especially since the first thing we saw when we arrived in the parking lot was a guinea!!! Ethan called out “Ge-ee!” (guinea).

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Goats, sheep, llamas, pigs, bunnies, and chickens scrambled for a shot at some of the pellets and bottled milk we bought at the zoo’s entrance—next time I will be purchasing more pellets! Ethan was very excited about feeding and fearlessly charged into the midst of the “petting barn”. He also did his fair share of throwing the pellets on the floor and made some impressive attempts to splash in the animals’ water buckets. I was so proud when The Peanut finally figured out how to extend his hand, bravely, to let the goats and sheep gobble up the food. The baby piglets were by far the cutest creatures on site.

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reston zoo, dc zoo, nova zoo, dc kids activities, nova kids activities, fun with toddlers, nova, northern virginia, dc

This place was a lot more than a petting zoo though, so we emerged from the barn to follow the path and see all kind of interesting animals.

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“A-ga-ta!” yelled Ethan as we peered over the barrier. And there it was, an alligator, floating lazily in the cool water while another lay nearby. After all the times Ethan has pulled his wooden alligator around the house saying “A-ga-ta!”, here was a real one, swimming around before his eyes.

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Ethan made friends with this adorable little deer-dude. It followed him back and forth along the fence, surrounded by every kind of duck and goose imaginable.

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Quinn did his best to keep a close-following duck in check, but it didn’t prevent him from getting a little beak-nip on the hand. The ducks were not shy in the least, as they knew we came equipped with food. Ethan, duck-lover, was determined to hug one.

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One of my favorite parts, and certainally a highlight for Ethan, was the aviary. The kid just LOVES birds, or “bree-ah” as he calls them (I think it’s an attempt at “birdy”). Dozens of parakeets buzzed around a huge enclosure, flying jumping, pecking, and chirping to our toddlers’ delight. You could hold out little birdseed-covered sticks (also available at the front desk…totally worth getting a couple) for a closer look…most of the colorful birds would hop right on the stick and peck away at the seed. Ethan wanted to pet one so bad. Alas, they always flew away just before his fingers could get a hold.

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If it weren’t for the blazing sun and one million percent humidity, we could have lounged in this birdy attraction for hours. And though completely soaked in sweat (sexy, right?), we were determined to forge ahead in our fun adventure.

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So we took a wagon ride! A big tractor pulled a covered wagon full of explorers. Quinn, a truck and machine lover, was over the moon for this activity. The driver stopped frequently to let us see cows, antelope, emus, wildebeests, ostriches, and a camel! The animals were very friendly and active, putting on a good show for us spectators.

reston zoo, dc zoo, nova zoo, dc kids activities, nova kids activities, fun with toddlers, nova, northern virginia, dcCrackerjack the camel. He’s 4 years old. Thought you’d want to know.

reston zoo, dc zoo, nova zoo, dc kids activities, nova kids activities, fun with toddlers, nova, northern virginia, dcThis is a Watusi Cow from Africa. It’s horns were ENORMOUS.

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What blew me away was that this zoo is smack dab in the middle of a suburb. Houses literally line the perimeter. How crazy would it be to look out your window and see an African cow? Or a herd of antelope?!

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reston zoo, dc zoo, nova zoo, dc kids activities, nova kids activities, fun with toddlers, nova, northern virginia, dc

The boys very sweetly shared a snack along the way. My son, the drool factory, had already soaked through his stylin’ bandana and was on to ruining his shirt. We’re going through at least three shirts a day right now…I can’t wait for those teeth to finish breaking through!!!

The kids stayed hydrated with plenty of water, bellies full of snacks, but after about two hours we were all ready to pack it in. The sun was brutal. Next time we will go earlier (it opens at 9am!) to beat the heat.

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I love how disheveled Ethan looks due to the state of his hair…I’m thinking it needs another visit from the scissors!

These boys were ready for naps!

While we can’t wait for Quinn’s blow-out birthday bash in a couple weeks, Ethan and I were honored to help celebrate the official day. We will be visiting the Reston Zoo again very soon! At $12 per adult, $10 for kids 2-12, and free for kids under two, it’s a relatively inexpensive way to have a ton of animal fun.

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8 Responses leave one →
  1. July 18, 2012

    that place looks so cool!

  2. Sandy Schon permalink
    July 18, 2012

    I want to go there!

    • Becky permalink*
      July 21, 2012

      Let’s put it on the list for your next visit!

  3. July 19, 2012

    Wow that looks fun! I’ve never seen an aviary that let you interact with the birds…so cool!

    • Becky permalink*
      July 21, 2012

      The aviary is probably the least expensive thing about the zoo, but was one of my favorite attractions. It was just so fun having all the birds fly around your head! I kept waiting to get pooped on. I guess we were lucky!

  4. July 20, 2012

    There’s another similar place in Leesburg — let me know if you ever want to go to either of them! They’re both about 20 minutes from my house!

  5. Kristan permalink
    July 21, 2012

    We had such a BLAST!! Thank you Becky for capturing it so well! I have yet to even go through my pictures……I know Quinn had so much fun sharing his birthday with Ethan!

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