Zoo in Holden

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EcoTarium’s three floors of exhibits creatively use wildlife, scientific concepts, and the museum’s natural history collection to help children discover the natural world. "Cyberchase—The Chase Is On!", a new interactive exhibit based on the PBS KIDS GO! math mystery cartoon and running for a limited time, allows visitors to protect the virtual universe by cunningly solving puzzles and math problems. "Bubbles," a seasonal exhibit, lets children discover different bubble shapes and stand inside a humungous bubble. Many animals such as a polar bear, bald eagles, and otters frolic peaceably within the museum grounds, which also features 55 acres of nature trails. Regular museum events, a digital planetarium, and free parking are also available.

222 Harrington Way
Worcester,
MA
US

A haven for exotic animals rescued from neglect or abandonment, Animal Adventures lets visitors interact with its furry and scaly refugees, teaching them firsthand to appreciate and respect the earth's diverse wildlife. Working with a rotating cast of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and marsupials, animal experts regale audiences with facts and the backstories of each animal, such as how they were rescued and which cartoon representative of their species best captures their regional accent. Though its denizens regularly find new homes, Animal Adventures's altruistic menagerie has included a massive alligator snapping turtle, a canadian lynx, and an asian water monitor. The sanctuary also offers day camps for youngsters looking to get closer with the animals, and an animal-adoption program for adults looking to support the cause by taking a critter home and putting it through college.

336 Sugar Rd.
Bolton,
MA
US

The Give Me Five pass grants access to five of any of the following activities: Kimball Farm's 300-yard driving range, nine-hole pitch-and-putt course, and batting cages will help golfers and batters adjust squeaky swings, and the Animal Adventures exhibit allows guests to interact with reptiles while discussing current events with talking birds. Give Me Fivers can also perform kinetic-energy experiments using colorful balls on the Waterfall Run or Forbidden Mine miniature-golf courses before boarding a bumper boat to faithfully recreate Star Wars on melted ice. The pass may also be used to acquire a play card (a $6 value) from the Olde Sawmill Midway Arcade.

Turnpike Rd
Jaffrey,
NH
US

Sweet Meadow Farm is not just a kid-friendly equestrian center. Sure, their experienced instructors lead private and group horseback-riding lessons year-round, but the farm also houses an interactive barnyard zoo. Their menagerie of domestic and exotic animals ranges from miniature horses and potbelly pigs to peacocks and kangaroos. Sweet Meadow Farm hosts birthday parties, too, during which kids can meet new critter friends inside the air-conditioned barn and make up secret handshakes that do not require opposable thumbs.

111 Coolidge Street
Sherborn,
MA
US

As visitors step into the balmy gardens of The Butterfly Place, they may feel as though they are ?walking into a floating garden . . . as if they are being carried as well.? That was the experience of a Wicked Local writer who visited the seasonal indoor sanctuary, which houses both local butterflies and tropical species culled from around the world. As the butterflies freely wing about the sanctuary, koi fish swim through serene ponds along the winding pathway, and quail waddle and moonwalk through myriad species of colorful flora. Those who find that watching the butterflies sip nectar incites their own hunger can take a break at the outdoor picnic area and nibble on any snacks they may have brought along.

120 Tyngsboro Road
Westford,
MA
US

Thanks to Zoo New England, little patches of wilderness from Africa, South America, Australia, and other parts of the world now dot Massachusetts. The non-profit organization operates both Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo, each full of exotic creatures and their habitats. These microcosms represent an ideal world, one where endangered species thrive and fragile ecosystems last for generations to come.

At Franklin Park Zoo, tigers display their exotic stripes in the Tiger Tales exhibit where guests are educated on the perils these animals face in their natural habitats. Elsewhere, thousands of plants as well as mandrills, ocelots, and a pygmy hippopotamus turn the zoo into a tropical rainforest.

Stone Zoo, meanwhile, places simulations of the world's highlands next to Spot Pond. One area focuses on the Sierra Madre mountain range, which spans Mexico and the Southwestern U.S. The elevated habitat counts jaguars, coyotes, Gila monsters, and cougars among its denizens.

A portion of every admission goes to the organization's conservation efforts, which supports projects both locally and globally. For would-be zookeepers, Zoo New England hosts various adult and kids' educational programs, and lets volunteers help in the care of zoo plants and animals.

1 Park View Street
Boston,
MA
US