The Stone Zoo opens with animals big and small – 4.5 Stars

School is nearly out for the summer.  However, the learning does not need to end when the final class bell rings.  In fact, you can create fun activities that also teach should you decide to incorporate some learning lessons into your day activities.  The Stone Zoo offers just such an opportunity should you want to plan a trip to visit some animal friends.  With the weather warming in New England, there is no better time to walk outside and see the critters.

Being less than a half hour north of Boston, the Stone Zoo is very easy to get to by car.  The zoo is right off the highway in Stoneham and has ample and shaded parking!  Many places can learn from this amenity since the parking lot shade means your car will not be broiling temperature when you head back home.  Also helpful since the zoo is pet friendly and you may need to leave one in the car temporarily.  Be aware, not all pets are welcome everywhere.  There are a few locations where even service animals are not permitted due to conflicts with the animals in the zoo.

The stone zoo has exhibits both large and small.  The park is divided into various areas that include Yukon Creek, The Caribbean Coast and Himalayan Highlands.  Various building house specialized enclosures for numerous animals such as the Animal Discovery Center, Windows into the Wild and the Barnyard which also has a modest petting zoo for kids to get up close to the animals. 

In monkey news, there are numerous primate species that are one of the biggest highlights of the zoo.  There are exhibits for Colobus Monkeys and Cotton Top Tamarins.  But the standout crew are a family of white cheeked Gibbons.  During a talk by the zoos staff, you will learn the difference between a monkey and an ape (hint apes aren’t bigger but unlike monkeys they don’t have tails). The most impressive of the Gibbons was the patriarch of the family named Keyan.  Keyan lost his right arm in an accident when he got his arm stuck in a fence as a patron was trying to feed him.  He required emergency surgery and was transferred to the Stone Zoo where he made his amazing recovery.  He swings about his monkey habitat with speed and grace unmatched by his fellow apes. 

Among the smaller creatures lurking about in the zoo are numerous exotic animals.  You might see prickly porcupines or the colorful poison dart frog – named so because tribes would make poison darts from the secretion on their skin.  One exhibit has you enter a mockup of a mine shaft where bats fly right in front of you.  Some hang upside-down on the ceiling while others crawl about the walls.  There are turtles large and small, snakes and even a few insects for those that don’t mind the creepy crawlers.

Some of the most impressive are the assortment of birds.  A large enclosure allows you to walk among the pink flamingos and other exotic birds.  These graceful creatures are great to snap a photo with!  You will also see a mighty Bald Eagle, the very symbol of America.  You may be familiar with its image on many things such as our currency but here you see one with your own eyes.  A true treat is the peregrine falcon, the fastest animal on the planet.  When in flight, they can reach speeds of almost 200 miles per hour!

Big animals abound as well.  Cooling off in the summer were several reindeer who must miss Santa’s workshop when the summer heat rolls in.  If you look up high upon a cliff, you can spot the white snow leopard that seems to like hiding up in the heights.   “Los Lobos” or the Mexican wolves make up a large section of the rocky terrain.  Numerous wolves can be seen especially near the wolf den that shows a wolf mother and her cubs.  Speaking of cubs, the black bears must top the list as the biggest of the animals you can see here.  These beasts are not teddy bears!  They are truly massive though docile as if they are still hibernating.

As for food, lunch is limited.  The Yukon Café offers burgers, hot dogs, and chicken fingers as well as other family fare that should satisfy you if you need some snacking.  Ice cream in the form of Mini-melts are sold all over the zoo to keep you cool if you need it.  You can of course pack your lunch as well since the park has a picnic area for you to sit and enjoy your food.  Near the café are a few rides for little kids to play on to round out the day.

And with any good attraction, there is a great gift shop.   Here you can pick up wildlife themed souvenirs such as T-shirts and toys.  The big seller seems to be plush animals that mimic the very ones you just saw.  Wolves, bears, otters and more make up the selection that seem to hit all price points from affordable to expensive. 

The Stone Zoo offers an educational and exciting activity that is perfect for the summer weather.  Don’t let the learning stop when school is out.  Make sure to come and learn about animal behavior and get a lesson on the wildlife! 

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