Strutting his stuff
Beardsley is located in Bridgeport, CT and is Connecticut’s only zoo. It embraces that heritage by featuring animals from a typical New England farm. Both of the Americas, North and South, are represented.
The rainforest house has, as you’d expect, the more exotic animals. The kids loved the variety of animals along with some of the brilliant colors they displayed. Make sure you visit the rainforest house early in your trip if you have little ones. Strollers are not permitted. It opens at 10:30 am and it closes at 3:30 pm, slightly earlier than the rest of the zoo. The humidity seems to magnify the odor–so watch out, if like me, you have a little one who is sensitive to strong smells.
We spent a lot of time watching the wolves. There are grey wolves and timber wolves. The young timber wolves were cute. A zoo employee was in the observation room and told us about them. The timber wolf had her young with her.
My three kids, 3, 9, and 12, enjoyed the prairie dog tunnels immensely. I had to make myself quite comfortable as they popped their heads out of the varied in-exhibit viewing areas. Thankfully the entrance to the tunnels is large, for the inevitable time a parent will need to retrieve one of their kids who just can’t bring themselves to stop having fun with the prairie dogs.
Beardsley Zoo prairie dog exhibit
Once we made it to the Peacock Cafe, we settled in at the picnic tables. The Peacock Cafe is a great central location. We enjoyed the life-size maze that the zoo sets up in the summer. It’s a perfect size for the kids. The three year-0ld enjoyed the new playground a bit while the older kids explored the fountain and tried to find the peacocks.
After some refreshments, we visited the animals next to the Peacock Cafe. The river otters were frisky and a big draw, as usual!The tigers were relaxing but the bear was quite active, pacing his cage. We walked through the aviary and saw bald eagles and alligators.
Photo opportunity alert: there is a large alligator and stone statues of a tiger and a bear. Have the kids stand next to them or even ride them. It’s a cute picture. The fountain is also another pretty location. Some of the grounds are beautifully landscaped and the right angle will capture the gardens in the background. There are also some signs that the kids can peek through.
Grey wolf at Beardsley Zoo
The reptile house is at the entrance to the New England farmyard. After visiting with the turtles, frogs, and snakes there’s a water fountain and then the cute farm animals. We saw some sheep, hogs, rabbits, cows, and even a cat. The goats had a large enclosure to climb around in. Unfortunately the goat food that you can purchase to feed the goats was all out. The large duck pond had a covered bridge and food you could feed to them.
Next to the Peacock Cafe is the carousel with it’s lovely old animals and the newly built stage to host the Free Shakespeare performance of The Three Musketeers next week. You can bring the kids and let them play at the playground while you enjoy the stage show.
The Peacock Cafe has food and cold drinks which you can enjoy in the air conditioning if it’s not too crowded. You can also enjoy a packed lunch at the picnic tables. The tables have umbrellas for some shade. There are bathrooms at the entrance to the parks and near the Peacock Cafe.
Although my little guy is three-and-a-half years-old, I found the rented stroller indispensable. If you are going to rent a stroller (and the rented strollers are nice–sturdy and easy to maneuver), spring for the double. It’s only an extra dollar and has a lot of storage.
We passed by the bison rather quickly–they were tired from the heat anyway. We enjoyed Beardsley Zoo on a typical early summer day. While some parts of the zoo are shaded, there are parts where the sun seems to reflect off the concrete and we felt as hot and dried out as the Bison habitat. A misting next the llamas were used thoroughly before we moved on.
If you want to see all of the exhibits, ride the carousel, and stop for lunch, the zoo can be a full day. We even stopped by the gift shop. Most of the gifts were related to the mission of the zoo and had animal themes. There were some things to purchase as low as 50 cents.
The Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport, CT review for families is also available at Nutmeg Families, the website for families in Western C0nnecticut.