Saturday, May 3, 2014

Fun Fridays: Farm Babies at the Minnesota Zoo

My friend Lindsey and I threw together a list of toddler-friendly things to do around the Twin Cities and plotted them on our calendars twice a month. We call them "Fun Fridays" with the intention they'll give us an excuse to get together and be less stressful than hauling our kids to one more scheduled class or activity. So far, we've met at the Hopkins Library (which is one of my favorites around the Twin Cities because it has a decent kids play area within a semi-enclosed space) and a week ago Friday, we ventured to the Minnesota Zoo's Farm Babies exhibit. I finally had a chance to sit down and write about our day!

I've only been to the Minnesota Zoo twice in my seven years living in the Twin Cities, and both times were to see the Farm Babies. The Minnesota Zoo is quite the drive from my house and seems absurdly expensive in comparison to Como Zoo which is smaller, closer in proximity to me and FREE. Nonetheless, a day at the "big zoo" was something different to do. Plus, the kids got up-close-and-personal encounters with baby farm animals.

This particular Friday morning was the perfect spring day. The air was cool, but the sun shined brightly and it made all the difference for walking outdoors (especially while pushing a giant double stroller). I packed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the toddler girls and Lindsey and I planned to make a day out of our visit.

Impossibly difficult to get four kids to look at the camera at once.
This was the only one where Aden wasn't screaming.
Ashley (2 1/2 years), Taylor (10 months), Aden (5 months) and Tory (2 1/2 years)

Our kids love getting together just as much as Lindsey and I do. Tory and Ashley hugged tightly as soon as they saw one another (and Tory cried "I miss my Ashley!" all the back to our parked car on the way home). As soon as we paid the entrance fee, we booked it toward the Farm Babies. First up: the goats. Ashley (Lindsey's daughter) loved the kids (that is, the baby goats, as not to be confused with the real kids running crazily everywhere). Tory, on the other hand, wasn't a big fan and I was so surprised! She loves the donkeys we visit every weekend at the cabin. This cute black and white goat sure loved Tory though, and tried licking her hand. Girlfriend wanted nothing to do with him.

Next, we walked a few pens over to the pigs and piglets. These little guys were my favorite farm animals to see. Tory loved them, too, and was very interested in how/why the babies were eating from their mama's belly (aka: nipples). Oh, toddlers and their never-ending series of questions. I tried to (quietly) explain to Tory how baby pigs drink milk from their mama, similar to the way Aden eats. She was a bit confused.

We saw more cows/calves and horses/ponies which are less exciting in my book because they're already huge even at a few months of age. These barns were super crowded and Tory was quite overwhelmed, so we didn't stay long. It was nice outside these areas though for the kids to run around semi-freely. 

Before we knew it, it was lunchtime and the kids were famished. We stopped at a picnic shelter and fed the little girls lunch while Lindsey drove circles with Baby Taylor in the stroller trying to get her to fall asleep, and I shushed and attempted to nurse a screaming Aden. Ugh. Somewhere between the barns and the picnic shelter he lost his fool-mind, which he rarely does. Thank goodness Tory and Ashley were fairly well behaved and interested in eating their sandwiches once we got them set up at a picnic table.

These are the moments when being a mom to small children (and trying to do something nice, like taking them to the zoo for the day) are so exhausting. Is it worth it? I think so, but I always feel like I've been put through the ringer by the end. After a quick spin through the fish area, we decided to make our way toward the exit as it was apparent all of our children were nearing meltdowns. Car naps for everyone! A "fun" Friday activity for sure, but a tiring one. I'm looking forward to more trips to the "little zoo" this summer.


  1. We got a membership to the MN Zoo for a year, and then I could tolerate it but the only reason we got it was because it's a mile from my parents house. It is SUCH an ordeal with little kids! I think it's awesome once they are school aged, it really is a much better zoo (not as sad animals, they are well treated, etc) but yeah, I love Como Zoo for little ones! I do love the Tropics Trail at the MN Zoo but always forget about it - would be a fun winter activity! And they do have a fun splash pad. Sometimes even the little zoo feels like an ordeal to me, especially with the masses of people.... Maybe I'm just too lazy? ;)

  2. My in laws sold a couple of cows to the farm exhibit when they first opened it back in the day. They were red & white ones - not sure of they still have any that would trace back but I always thought it was kind of neat. I think it is kind of more work than its worth, especially when the kids are little and they're just as easily entertained by something cheap/free. But something different none the less!

  3. I don't think I'd ever make it out of the house with 2 kids, I very much prefer outnumbering Aria with my husband. It definitely sounds like a handful to my single kid experienced self. Love the pic of all the kiddies, Taylor is cheesing it up hardcore! We love going to our little local zoo, not too crazy not too far away and we had passes until just recently. I love the idea of picking something to do a couple times a month with your friend and her kids, keeps you trying new things.

  4. Love the zoo! And it's finally getting to be some nice weather...maybe we will get to take our kiddos to the Lincoln zoo (never been, have you?) when you guys are back at the end of the month. Can't wait!

    1. I have been to the Lincoln Zoo and it's great! Easy to navigate and perfect for toddlers. We should definitely take the kids for a visit later this month. Can't wait to see you!