By Stephen Johnson
So far, 2014 has been the year of animals in the Johnson family. Whether it has been seeing ducks in the neighbourhood park or touching stingrays at the Granby zoo, our son, David, has been on a quest to see every type of species possible. Continuing with this theme, we decided to visit the Papanack Park Zoo which is only about a thirty minute drive east of Ottawa.
Upon first entering the zoo, we were greeted by one of the zookeepers showing a couple of baby animals that had recently been born at the zoo. She provided a lot useful information but, of course, the highlight was seeing David’s reaction to the young animals.
We then moved on to the walking path featuring animals from Africa. David was excited to see the lions but they were sleeping due to the hot weather. There were plenty of other animals to keep us entertained ranging from gibbons to monkeys. My favorite area was a place called monkey island where the monkeys had free reign to move around as they wanted. It was amazing to see their dexterity and speed.
David was enjoying all of the animals but he became distracted by his second current passion. He has become an amateur butterfly collector. Armed with a butterfly net and peanut butter jar with breathing holes carved into the green lid, David was well on his way. The park-like setting of the zoo was home to many different types of butterflies. David must have caught and released and least ten butterflies. It made his afternoon.
All of this butterfly collecting had made David hungry so we stopped for a picnic. Papanack zoo has many picnic tables and you are also allowed to bring food on-site. They have a canteen that has food for sale. We had an enjoyable lunch and relaxed before gearing up for the second half of our animal adventures.
We wanted to go see the Siberian tiger. Tigers have always been one of my favorite animals so I greatly enjoyed the experience of seeing the animal up close. David spotted the kangaroos and did his best hopping imitation.
After a few hours at the zoo, it was time to wrap up our visit. David ended the day playing on the play structures at the park so he did not want to leave.
The zoo offers many activities including animal feedings and educational talks. They also have summer camps.
It should be noted that the zoo is under new ownership. I had a chance to meet the new owner, Kerri Bafford. When talking with her, it was obvious she has a passion for animals and their well-being.
For more information about Papanack Zoo, visit, www.papanackzoo.com