About a week ago my neighbor came over and handed me a pamphlet for the Phillips Park Zoo in Aurora. She had just visited with her daughter and thought it would be a cool place to take Weston. One of my good friends just moved to town so I asked her if her and her son would like to join us during the week and she said yes - so we headed out to Aurora!
First of all- the GPS took me through downtown Aurora (sorry, no pics, I was driving) and it is a pretty cool looking historic downtown- except that practically everything was boarded up! Hurry up someone with money and invest in downtown Aurora! I'll go there, I promise!
Secondly - free splash pad at the zoo! This was a big hit with Weston and the other kids who were there too. However, the splash pad closes for 15 minutes every hour, adults are NOT allowed in the splash pad and you are NOT ALLOWED to bring toys! There is an attendant there that makes sure these things happen. She even reminded a group of women that there were two signs posted with the rules. Ugggghhhh the kids are just trying to have a good time! Anyway, the splash plad was really nice and there is a nice grassy area around it to sit and watch the kids play in the water while you bake under the hot sun.
The 45-minute rule is kind of nice cause when that time is up, you can tell your toddler it's not working anymore and it's time to go see the animals and he believes you. During a 15-minute break we headed into the zoo to see what kind of animals they had.
The zoo was established in 1915 and once housed exotic animals like giraffes. When Broofield Zoo opened in the early 1930s, the zoo began to concentrate more on native animals. There are a couple of alligators (obvoiusly not native), an iguana, some elks, peacocks, river otters, birds of prey, grey wolves, and even a cougar. Turns out the majority of the animals were rescues given a second chance at life. Many animals had a broken limb that would never heal properly- and others were just, well, zoo animals.
The grounds are very nice, but one strange thing about the zoo was that the animals were double-caged. This made them very difficult to see. Also, some of plexiglass around the reptile cages seemed really scratched up and dirty so that also made it hard to see some of the reptiles. Many of the exhibits were really old, but they were nice and clean. I'm not sure what kind of funding the zoo receives, but I'm guessing not alot. To be honest, the zoo made me kind of sad, but, knowing that some of these animals wouldn't have a chance at life without this zoo made me feel a little better about it.
Regardless, you can walk through the zoo in under 15 minutes if you don't really stop to look at anything. And under 30 if you do.
There is a really cool visitors center that has Mammoth bones found nearby but there is no photography allowed.
They also have really nice sunken garden with a stroller ramp (bonus!)!
All-in-all, this is a nice park/zoo to go to. It's free. It's in a nice park. They are saving animals and promoting conservation. They have mammoth bones. There are some playgrounds beyond the zoo that we didn't get a chance to visit because the kids were getting cranky but they looked awesome. There was also a nice hiking trial that I hope to get back to try soon.. I think if you live in the area its definitely worth going to.
Has anybody been there? What do you guys think of the Phillips Park Zoo?
Phillips Park Zoo
1000 Ray Moses Dr, Aurora, IL 60505
Open Daily 9am-5pm