Cost-Adults/$10 Kids/$7, parking is free
This is a trip for the little ones! Living in Southern California with access to the world famous, and deservedly so, San Diego Zoo, often we forget that there are other great zoos in our geographical area. San Diego Zoo is an amazing place and I would encourage anyone who hasn't been to go. It is also huge, often crowded, and exhausting, which can be very overwhelming for young children and visitors. The Santa Ana Zoo at Prentice Park is the opposite of all those things. Snakes, tigers and rhinos are completely absent. What will you find? Monkeys! Some of the smallest monkeys in the world, and plenty of them.
We hadn't been in years and my youngest daughter, eighteen now, didn't remember ever having been. She has a strong affinity for animals so when I mentioned a zoo trip she was up for it and brought along her best camera. Unfortunately, the enclosures included a lot of wire and we had a hard time getting some really good shots. I did have a lot of fun with the iPhone's new Live Photos and have tons of moving pictures of monkeys swinging and ocelots playing. Live Photos are great for shots of animals and small children. It's addicting, trying to catch them in action, literally mid-jump. I can imagine how often those photos would be admired over and over by a curious child. My daughter and I have been delighted ourselves. I wish my blog was Live Photo friendly to share them.
Besides the monkeys there is a kid-friendly farm, with goats, pigs, ponies, a cow, and a very fancy French chicken. There is a garden with vegetables and a small, cute scarecrow. A train runs around the property, which you can ride for an additional fee, as well as a carousel and playground.
The highlights for us, besides the many monkeys, included watching the ocelots play like kittens and admiring the size of a giant anteater. We walked by the sloths enclosure to see if they would move. They did in fact, into the shade as the day grew warmer, but we missed the actual re-positioning. Imagine our disappointment! Next time I think my daughter has every intention of camping out in front to wait them out. As it was, they looked like a matted hairy rug stuck in a tree. But, the most fun to watch? The baby black howler monkey clinging to mama. Eventually the little one began to play, but never too far away. Adorable. Baby animals, right?
A fun educational tool available at the gift shop are Zookeys. They are fun plastic keys that can be inserted at machines found near each animal enclosure and will play a recorded audio tour of the zoo. Or you can put the key in the other way and you'll hear a little song or jingle about the animals, more fun for pre-schoolers. If technology is more your style, MP3 files can be downloaded to your phone from the website to listen as you walk through the zoo. (Scroll down to find under news and events.)
All together the Santa Ana Zoo is a delightful afternoon spent without a huge layout in time, money or planning.