I’m not talking about the last time you went to the zoo with your kids or -if you’re a really nice person- someone else’s kids. I’m talking about the last time you went to the zoo all by yourself; when you wandered the exhibits at a leisurely pace, watched the sea lions for as long as you wanted, then bought your own bag of cotton candy and ate the whole thing by yourself. When was the last time you did that?
If you’re like me, the answer to that is “never.”
And that’s a shame, because zoos are actually good for you. In fact, there are several benefits to spending the day at the zoo, including:
1. Stress relief. Being with nature tends to lower our stress levels. Have you ever met anyone who was stressed out while looking at birds and butterflies? I didn’t think so!
2. Exercise. While you’re ogling the ostriches and and monkeying around with the primates, you’re also walking. And while your pedometer will thank you for the work-out, you’ll barely notice those extra steps you’re getting in.
3. Education. As adults, we don’t have the opportunities to learn new stuff like we did when we were kids. While you’re at the zoo, take the time to actually read the signs that give you more information on each animal. You will probably learn something. For example, did you know that a polar bear’s fur isn’t actually white? In reality the polar bear’s fur consists of clear, hollow tubes. Didn’t know that? That’s the kind of informational nugget you can find at your nearest zoo.
4. Animals. Most humans will involuntarily “awwww” when we see a cute animal doing something adorable on the Internet. Why? Because deep down, most of us really love animals. If you haven’t been to a zoo lately, you might have forgotten how much you love them. That’s okay. As soon as you get to the zoo, you’ll remember.