{ explore the saskatoon forestry farm park & zoo this fall }

I have been to the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo too many times to count. However, this week I discovered a few unfamiliar creatures and features thanks to this little cutie.

When I visit our local zoo, I usually try to hit all the high points. In order to "make the most of our time," I make a mental map of the direction we will go and the animals that we will see. {Bears, check. Cougars, check. Red panda, check.}
{ red panda at the Saskatoon Zoo }
{ She who holds the map leads the way. }
I generally keep an eye on my watch to make sure we are leaving enough time to make the rounds. More often than I'd like to admit, this results in me nudging my kids along to keep them on track.

During this particular outing, however, I decided to try a different approach. I handed my 3-year-old daughter the map. I told her I was going to set my timer and when it went off, we would need to head back to the exit. The rest was up to her lead.

The big smile on her face was priceless! She kept clarifying, "I'm the leader. Right, mom?"

I purposely tried not to say "Let's go...." or "Come...." This is a surprisingly difficult habit to break!

{ checking out the "mystery critter holes," AKA drainage culverts }
Our path was not an efficient one. We did not cover even half of the exhibits. In retrospect, I now realize that by "hitting the high points" all those times before, I also was not exploring a large portion of the Zoo. We ended up on unfamiliar pathways, and I even found a washroom in the middle of the park that I never knew existed. {FYI, it is closed in the winter months.}

We spent at least 30 minutes walking through the Zoo's drainage ditches and peeking into culverts. My girlie was so intrigued by these "mystery critter holes." She kept shushing me and speculating about what might live there. I followed her imagination and her footsteps until they led us to the pond, where I was able to explain about the water drainage system.

{Why did the rooster cross the road? To escape my preschooler.} 
We also logged several minutes in a stare-down with a rooster. While I did pipe up a few times warning her not to get too close, it took all the willpower I could muster to not ask her to move it along. {Sad, but very true!} Despite all of our meanderings, we still were able to see many of the other animals.


{ mountain goat at the Saskatoon Zoo }
During the fall months, I find the animals to be in a different sort of mood. Perhaps it is the cooler temperatures or the fewer people, but we had animals actually come up to the fence to look at us rather than hiding in a shady corner as we often find them in the warmer months.

{ Canada lynx at the Saskatoon Zoo }
For example, I don't think I ever knew there was more than one lynx in the Saskatoon Zoo. There were three that came up to the fence to watch us while we stood there. What gorgeous eyes and fur they have! My daughter lacked the willpower I had displayed as she pulled me begrudgingly away from these majestic creatures.

The Saskatoon Forestry Farm & Zoo is pretty fabulous year-round. Since it is open every day, excluding Christmas, there are 364 opportunities each year for a fun and educational nature walk. Did you know from November through March, admission is not charged? An annual membership also can make this an affordable option during the warmer months.

I will definitely be letting my kids "take the map" moreso in future adventures. There's nothing more fun than seeing the world through a child's eyes that happen to be glowing with confidence.
{ "I am strong!" }




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