on August 5, 2012
Southwick’s Zoo can be found near the towns of Mendon and Uxbridge, Massachusetts, about 45 miles/1 hour Southeast from Boston via Interstates 90 and 495 or 26 miles/half an hour Northwest out of Providence via the 146 Worcester-Providence Turnpike. At 300 acres Southwick is larger than the next three largest New England zoos (Beardsley, Franklin Park and Roger Williams) combined. Since each of those other zoos boasts a greater number of both species and specimens, this means that in theory Southwick’s should have more square footage per individual than their competitors, which is always a good thing.Southwick’s keeps around 100 different animal species in average-sized but well maintained enclosures or "habitats". Some highlights include the White Rhino, Chimpanzee, White Tiger, Giraffe and Siamang exhibits. The animals generally appear well cared for and healthy and I personally did not witness any of the neurotic pacing that is so often evident in creatures living in cramped and un-stimulating environments.Species are mostly limited to birds and mammals from Africa and South America with a few North American (Deer, Alligator) and Australian (Kangaroo, Kookaburra) representatives located here and there. Aquatic exhibits are currently limited to the aforementioned Gators and Turtles.For families with smaller children Southwick’s is an ideal zoo destination thanks to its location in the woods of rural Massachusetts which provides respite from the baking summer sun and for the many kids-oriented rides and animal encounters.Rides are not part of the general admission fee and can be purchased either through an upgraded park ticket (includes armband for unlimited mechanical rides) or through individual tickets which cost 0.75 to 1.25 each, depending on how many are purchased at once.Kids can ride on an actual pony or dromedary as well as a bounce-a-bout and several mechanical animal-themed carousels. The E-ticket attractions are the Woodland Train and the Skyfari Sky Ride.I would not recommend the Woodland Train (basically a parking lot tram) as there was not much to see besides Deer and Ducks and the tour did not include any running commentary. I got the feeling that this attraction was a work in progress.The Skyfari however was definitely worth the price of admission. This 15 minute ski-lift ride through the forest canopy was a cool and relaxing experience which provided unique viewpoints to animal exhibits which are sometimes difficult to observe from the ground (primates). We liked: lots of shade in the trees, distractions for young kids and the Skyfari Sky Ride.The kids liked: Deer Forest, Petting Zoo, Pot-Bellied Pigs and Animal Rides.
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