Location: 6800 Zoo Drive, Kansas City, Missouri 64132 (in Swope Park)
Cost: Varies–check the Web site for current pricing
Web site: http://www.kansascityzoo.org/
On a recent windy Sunday, Peanut and I took a solo trip to the zoo. This time, he was fascinated by the Trumpeter Swans.
To be honest, I had always thought that this exhibit would be too hard for him: it’s a big enclosure, and the swans aren’t that big of birds. It turns out that I was wrong. The male swan is a big white bird–and a white bird is high contrast against the fall colors of the enclosure. As an added bonus, on our visit, the swan decided to trumpet! He was a very noisy swan–he had as much to say as my toddler, and was about as intelligible. If you catch him on a day like we did, any kid, regardless of their eyesight, should enjoy the swan.
Right next to the swans are the river otters. The otters have an exhibit similar to Polar Bear Passage: kids are separated from the otters by only a plate of glass, and there’s a wet side and a dry side to the exhibit. Peanut was fascinated by the water in the otters’ tank, and he definitely saw the otters when they came up to check him out and swam right next to the glass. He was eager to check out the dry side of the exhibit as well, even though the otters were swimming at the time. In front of the exhibit, there are otter prints in the concrete: this is an opportunity to touch the footprints of the little creatures to get an idea of what they’re like.
If you go inside the main zoo building, there’s a small play area called the Kids Koop. It has a padded floor, which is nice, and kid-sized tables. Best from a visually-impaired standpoint are the wooden toys on the wall: these are all tactile toys, involving beads, flowers or other knobs that can be slid along the tracks. There are puzzles and books at the tables for kids to use, but their usability depends on how recently the area’s been cleaned and how disorganized the kids have been that have used it that day.
I had always thought that this front part of the zoo was nice, but that it wasn’t that great for my visually-impaired kiddo. On this visit, I found that I was wrong: if the animals are cooperative (i.e. noisy and willing to come up to the glass), they can be enjoyed.