Vacations to Hershey, Pennsylvania, are typically filled with chocolate tours, historical sightseeing and landscape loving, but don’t overlook opportunities to get up close and personal with wildlife. So put the chocolate aside and head to ZooAmerica, a wildlife park that has more to offer than your typical zoo.
From pet park to zoo
ZooAmerica houses a variety of species, from alligators to elk, owls and ocelots. It started as a pet park, when a German family moved to Hershey with 12 prairie dogs and a bear, and transformed over time. With the help of Milton Hershey, the Hershey attraction bloomed into a full-blown zoo that has been involved in many conservation projects, including the breeding of endangered species.
ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park clearly states its commitment to conservation. A key component within all of its educational programs is the orientation of the participants with conservation issues. Financial commitments and donations to the Conservation Endowment Fund of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association are a continual business practice here, as are continual programs dealing with conservation within the park.
The zoo offers educational seminars and tours that highlight these birds as well as other species in need of help. Wild Workshop is a day camp for adults, where participants partake in an Endangered Species Program, Hands-on Animal Encounter, owl pellet dissection, ocelot enrichment and more. Girl Scout Days give troop members the chance to earn a series of badges. An After-Hours tour gives guests an adventure in the dark, where feeding otters, touching reptiles and holding birds of prey are common stops. Seasonal and quarterly programs and tours take place as well, so check the website before your vacation to find a tour that best suits you.
If you just want the typical tour, which is a hoot of its own, head on over to the park during any day of your vacation. Visits will unveil animals from a variety of ecosystems, including the Southern swamps, Northlands, Eastern Woodlands, Big Sky country and Great Southwest. Little guys you may have never even heard of—like the American Marten, Chuckwalla and Coati —will pop out of their burrows, dens and other domiciles to greet you. Birds will squawk and maybe a Gray Wolf will howl hello to you during your tour.
ZooAmerica is a great place to visit on a vacation to Hershey. Kids, teens and adults will find the place fun, informative and worth the trip.
If you’ve had your fill of chocolate, sightseeing and history, head to the park to experience real wildlife!