Animal Adventures Family Zoo & Rescue Center in Bolton, MA is way cooler than a zoo.
If you want to have an up close and personal experience with animals you may have only read about in books or seen on TV, come visit here. If you have an aspiring veteranarian at home, visit here. If you are interested in animal conservation, visit here. If you're looking for a memorable day trip about an hour from Springfield, visit here. Bottom line: just visit here.
We spent a Sunday afternoon on site here in April and it was truly unforgettable. During our visit we got to interact with kangaroos, goats, llamas, geese, a crocodile, a toucan, a porcupine, an albino skunk, a corn snake, a kinkajous and so, so many more animals. (Find a list of their animals here). You'll see animals here that you didn't even know existed. Right here in Massachusetts!
Animal shows are held throughout the day (11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m.) where you can interact, pet and visit with some of the residents. I can promise you will learn more about any of these species during these 10-15 minute shows than watching a years' worth of Wild Kratts episodes.
You can't visit here expecting a sterile zoo experience like when you visit one of the large regional zoos in the area. Animal Adventures is first and foremost a rescue center -- the love for animals comes first, presentation is not the priority. That being said, I can't think of another local zoo that allows you to get so close to the animals and offers so much interaction. Wear your boots or old shoes -- the grounds are dusty and/or muddy. I would recommend bringing a spare pair of shoes for everyone to change into upon arrival, then you can throw them in the trunk for the ride home (we visited on a rainy day and I'm so glad we did this).
It's important to note that because all of the animals here have been rescued or rehomed -- some from less-than-ideal situations -- some of them may not look like the sparkly showcase animals you'd see at other zoos. Realize that this doesn't mean they are not living out there best lives here at Animal Adventures. It's a great learning opportunity for kids to see that all animals have an important role to play in ecosystems.
If taking a general tour is not enough animal adventure for you -- there are options to book private tours, extreme tours or a zookeeper for a day experiences where you can get even more up close and personal with some of these rare species. This is a great birthday, anniversary or graduation gift idea. You can find pricing information here.
You may have actually encountered an Animal Adventures program at a local school, church or recreational program -- they travel all around New England educating audiences about preservation. Visiting their home site as an unprecedented opportunity to interact with their animals in such a close, personal way. I cannot think of a better experience for any child who loves animals. It is amazing to witness how dedicated all of the staff and volunteers are on site. Their passion for protecting all species is a beautiful thing to see. Everything from a tiny frog named Booger to a giant anaconda.
There is plenty of free onsite parking and the bathrooms are clean, but you need to bring your own lunch, snacks, and drinks. There are no concessions on site but there are picnic tables available. There is a Dunkin' about two miles away but other than that you are going to need the GPS to research dining options in the area.
The property is not large -- I wouldn't even recommend bringing a stroller. Even the newest walkers can toddle around on their own without tiring out or bring a carrier for the littlest visitors. A stroller will just be too cumbersome here. The site also features a large playscape area where little visitors can work out their wiggles.
Bring some small bills if you'd like to purchase cups of grain to feed the goats and alpacas. Or, if you're lucky, you might catch a volunteer offering trays of green beans to feed these guys (feeding a goat a green bean is hilarious). There is a small gift shop in the reception area. Know that any money you spend here is being put toward the care for the rescued animals.
Animal Adventures is located at 336 Sugar Road in Bolton, MA. The zoo is open to the public Monday - Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. They are closed on Tuesday except for during school vacation weeks and the summer season. Admission is $14/person for ages 4 and up, $7 for kids ages 2 & 3, and FREE for kids under 2. A military discount of 25% is offered. #WayCoolerThanAZoo