Are there any animal lovers in your family? There are several zoos and petting farms around Southeastern Wisconsin that the whole family will love.
Here are some local places where you can get up close with live animals:
1. Bear Den Zoo & Petting Farm
6831 Big Bend Rd., Waterford, WI 53185
Opening for the season Saturday, May 14, 2022!
This family-owned zoo houses traditional farm animals like baby chicks, goats, and cows. They are also the perfect blend of local wildlife and more exotic animals like lemurs, kangaroos, and llamas. Kids can pet and interact with almost all of the animals.
2. Concord General Store and Zoo (FREE!)
N6485 County Rd. F, Oconomowoc, WI 53066
Concord General Store is a gas station, but it’s so much more than that. You’ll find organic snacks, local coffee, and a petting zoo. There is no admission fee, and you can pet and feed the ponies, goats, and pigs. It’s the perfect pit stop on the way to Madison, or as it’s own destination for a fun-filled morning or afternoon.
3. Green Meadows Petting Farm
33603 High Dr. (Hwy 20), East Troy, WI 53120
Green Meadows offers a hands-on, interactive learning experience that can last the whole day. Kids can pet, feed, and in some cases even hold the farm animals, including baby chicks, bunnies, and goats. They can also milk a cow if they’re up for it! Don’t miss the kitten barn, filled with sweet, soft kittens for petting and cuddling. There are also pony, wagon, and hay rides.
Don’t miss the playground that includes a fire truck the kids can climb, wooden wagons, and a John Deere tractor with a slide.
The farm typically opens for the season in early May.
4. Milwaukee County Zoo
10001 W. Blue Mound Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53226
The Milwaukee County Zoo is home to over 200 wooded acres and more than 2,000 animals. You’ll come face-to-face with giant elephants, looming giraffes, roaring lions, bears resting in hammocks, swinging monkeys, and more.
Before you go, download the Milwaukee County Zoo app. It gives you an easily accessible map of the grounds, as well as educational information about the animals. You’ll also be able to see if there are any special events happening on the day you visit, such as Boo at the Zoo or Egg Day. The app will also give you access to schedules for rides and attractions.
You’ll definitely want to stop by the Family Farm area, where you’ll find an animal feeding area, a cow milking barn, and a huge playground. Plus, Kohl’s Wild Theater offers live conservation-themed shows and Birds of Prey demonstrations for young kids, and they happen all throughout the summer for free.
For an extra fee, you can hop on the Safari Train that runs through the grounds, feed the giraffes, ride the carousel, get a guided tour on the Zoomobile, see an Oceans of Fun Seal and Sea Lion Show, or get a bird’s eye view of the zoo on the Sky Safari.
Family free days are offered six times a year, so check their website for dates and times.
5. Racine Zoo
2131 N. Main St., Racine, WI 53402
This small, charming zoo is home to a hundred different species of animals, and it’s perfect for young children who are having a first-time zoo experience. It’s located right along the shores of Lake Michigan, so you can make it a full day trip with a stop at nearby North Beach.
Bring the whole family on a Zoorific Saturday to enjoy themed crafts, exciting games, and other activities all day long (FREE with regular zoo admission). Stop by stations with Conservation Education Specialists for educational programming.
6. Shalom Wildlife Zoo
1901 Shalom Dr., West Bend, WI 53090
Shalom Wildlife Zoo features three miles of looping trail through which you can walk or drive a golf cart. You’ll observe deer, elk, bison, wolves, and more in an expansive natural environment. (In the Springtime, be on the lookout for new baby animals!)
There are educational exhibits and markers along the way. Be sure to pick up a bag of feed at the main building so you can offer some snack to the animals. The whole experience takes about two hours, so be sure to pack snacks and drinks to enjoy at the picnic areas.
You can also explore the children’s play area, and a Native American artifact museum. Check their website for seasonal events and specials such as scavenger hunts, pumpkin hunting, and Christmas at the Zoo.
Related: Wisconsin Humane Society
Milwaukee Campus – 4500 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53208, (414) 264-6257
Ozaukee Campus – 630 W. Dekora St., Saukville, WI 53080, (262) 377-7580
The Wisconsin Humane Society hosts events for kids to learn about their organization and meet the animals. Read about the Wisconsin Humane Society’s youth programs here.
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