Have Twins, Will Travel

Franklin Park Zoo

Boston, Mass – Neither of the two zoos in the Greater Boston area is particularly impressive. It’s a great disappointment to zoo-lovers such as Daddio and I.

That said, we are members of Zoo New England and the Franklin Park Zoo in particular is good for a day out with the twins. Here’s what we like:

zoo_gorilla_3c0d3Tropical Forest This large pavilion is one of the reasons we like to come here in bad weather, and especially in the winter. There’s enough to see that the twins are easily entertained for an hour or more, and it’s all indoors. The pavilion contains an awesome gorilla habitat, home to eight western lowland gorillas that often come and hang out right next to the glass. The most famous resident is Little Joe (notorious escape artist) but he also has a nice family, including little Kambiri who was born a few months after the twins. The Tropical Forest Pavilion is also home to ring-tailed lemurs, a Baird’s tapir, a giant anteater, an ocelot and a pygmy hippo, among others.

Despite all of these interesting animals, we inevitably spend the most time at the fish tank. The tank also serves as the plunge pool for the pygmy hippo, so every once in a while you can see him taking a dip; but that’s not the appeal. The twins like it because the room is set up like a small amphitheater facing the tank, so they can run along the rows and climb up and down the steps. Of course I find myself wondering why we are at the zoo, exactly, but it’s best not to question.
Playground Again, do we really have to go all the way to the zoo just to go to the playground? But this huge new colorful play space is awesome, with 10,000 square feet of ladders, tunnels, ramps and slides. Most of the climbing structures have animal themes, so even though there are no live animals in the vicinity, we are still satisfied that we are at the zoo.
Despite all of the fun, challenging and truly unique toys at this playground, the twins seem to like the swings the best. Sigh.
Zoo Train Regular readers will know about my strong belief that kiddie trains are key to successful travel with toddlers. This particular train has proven to be a great source of frustration for us, as the zoo makes it as difficult as possible to actually ride it. The boarding takes place at the far corner of the zoo. The train makes no stops: so not only do we have to walk all the way to the opposite end of the zoo to get on the train, afterwards we have to walk all the way back.
What’s worse, it’s not a real train. It does not travel on tracks, but on the same road that everybody walks on, so there’s no chance of sneaking out of the zoo without letting your kids know about it. If you try, I guarantee that the train will go by just as you are nearing the exit and you’ll be busted.
After many unsuccessful attempts, we finally rode the zoo train on our recent visit. The twins loved it (despite Twin V’s look of boredom in the photo below). We didn’t really see any animals that we had not seen on foot, except for two lazy camels. But it didn’t matter. There’s something about a little red engine that guarantees a good time (even if it’s not a real train).