You’re here because you want to know if it is worth it to buy a zoo membership. And let me make this real simple without you having to read a huge long blog post to get your answer. 

Yes, you should absolutely get a membership to the zoo. 

My family loves the zoo. We visit every year and it is always so exciting to see my kids become infatuated with the animals. They love learning about the various animals and making observations about the different habitats of each animal and making connections about animals they love from books and movies and then seeing them in real life. Watching the real-life Simba and Kion bask in the sun is ridiculously cool. 

A few weeks ago, my family went to the zoo for a special event, Breakfast with the Animals. We got to the zoo around 8:45, saw a few animals, had breakfast, saw a few more animals and left the zoo by 11:45 (we had just moved and needed to finish unpacking). It was FANTASTIC! We weren’t hot, gross, and tired. We didn’t spend a fortune on food (the event ticket included admission and was just $4 more than regular admission). And we didn’t deal with big crowds. But we did see lots of big animals and my kids and I were more than happy with the trip. That is when it donned on me that a  zoo membership would totally allow this to happen regularly. So here is why we WILL be buying a zoo membership. 

Frequent Short Visits

We have gone to the zoo at least one day a year, every year since Rea was born. It has always been a fun day that we look forward too and enjoy. My kids LOVE animals. But I would be lying if I said that it is an easy and 100% enjoyable day. We spend 8 hours walking thousands of steps in the hot sun. Our kids are consistently carried or strapped into a stroller until they get to the next exhibit where they get out for 5 minutes and then we strap them up again and keep going. And we spent $50 for our family to walk through those doors so we are going to get our money’s worth. 

With a membership, you can make it so that you only have the enjoyable parts and you skip the less than enjoyable parts. We will use our membership to go to the zoo more often and just for a few hours each time. Our plan, head to the zoo first thing in the morning when they open and leave before lunch.

That will allow us to:

  • Skip the heat
  • Avoid the crabby and tired kiddos
  • See some of our favorite animals.
  • Plus each trip will feel different because we will go to different sections of the park each time.

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Cost

Going to the zoo or on any other adventure is expensive. Tickets to our local zoo for a family of 4 is $42 before tax. And my zoo was on the cheap end. I looked at 15 different zoos to compare their price for admission for one day vs. zoo membership. Here is what I found, nearly every zoo I looked at had zoo membership costs equal to 2 visits or less for a family of four. So if you visit the zoo twice in one year you are already paying for a basic family membership. 

Plus, if you follow the plan that I said before and leave before lunch you will save a whole lot of money by simply not having lunch at the park. Again, lunch for a family of 4 at a zoo can be equivalent to the price of admission. When you think about it like that, one trip to the zoo including admission and lunch is equal to a zoo membership. That right there is all the reason I need to get a membership. 

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Discounts

Zoos like to make your membership seem even more appealing by offering discounts on various items as a perk of your membership. Some of these discounts are on things I would never buy, but some are on things I would absolutely use. 

The most common discounts I saw were discounts on special events, sister zoos & aquariums, and the gift shop. So let’s break that down. 

Events

We have attended events at the zoo and they are definitely hit or miss. Some are fantastic and well worth the extra expense and others not so much. But one thing is for sure getting tickets at a discount always lessens the sting if the event was a dud and it always makes the event sweeter if the event was a success. 

Sister Zoos and Aquariums 

We are lucky enough to live in an area where there are some pretty spectacular zoos and aquariums in the surrounding areas. Our local zoo is 30 minutes away, but there are at least 4 other big zoos in a 2-4 hour drive from us. We used to drive 2 hours to our local zoo in North Carolina so that is huge. Getting a discount at those big well-known, famous zoos is a big deal and a nice perk. My local zoo has a partnership with 120 zoos all over the country which means your zoo is probably part of this program too. 

Gift Shops

We probably won’t use this part of our membership. I am not a big fan of $30 stuffed animals, just sayin’. But I am known for forgetting to pack a thing or two in the diaper bag so knowing that if forget to bring sunscreen I will at least get 10% off my $15 tube of sunscreen is a bit of a consolation. And if you are into $30 stuffed animals well then you can also enjoy your discount. 

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So when should you buy your zoo membership? 

Whenever is best for you. You will get a full year regardless of when you buy. 

My family will be buying it as a Christmas gift for the kids. This is something I was not a fan of in the past because it felt like a boring gift to open on Christmas morning. But last year my kids were opening gift for 3 hours. My mom and I went way overboard, they had too many gifts, and instead of allowing them to play with and enjoy each toy we were constantly moving them along to open the next gift. So next year, they will have fewer toys to open and enjoy. And then they will get memberships to fun family adventures that we can experience all year long. My kids will 100% remember all of our family trips to the zoo, but they will likely forget the random porcupine toy that worked on numbers, colors, and fine motor skills. 

I am working to be more intentional with my time with my kids and a zoo membership is part of that. 

Zoo Animal Activities

If you are a zoo loving family like us, you will want to check out our zoo theme learning bundle. It is full of learning activities and crafts that are perfect for any zoo or animal lover.