Have you ever wished you could have a campout at the zoo?
A zoo sleepover has been on my family’s bucket list for as long as I can remember. During our time living in San Diego, we were members of the zoo more often than not and we loved exploring the zoo during the daytime — we could only imagine how awesome it would be to hang out all night.
When Lionsgate invited my family to sleepover at the San Diego Zoo to celebrate the release of the new movie, The Wild Life (in theaters this Friday), we couldn’t say no.
Before heading into the zoo, we stopped by a local theatre to watch a screening of The Wild Life. My kids have started seeing the previews for this all over the place so they couldn’t wait to see the movie.
I can’t tell you too much about the movie itself yet (you’ll have to go see it on Friday) but I can tell you my kids LOVED it. They laughed out loud several times while we were watching it and one of my sons is now fascinated by several of the animals he saw in the film.
To celebrate the release of The Wild Life, my family headed straight for the San Diego Zoo where we were going to spend the night. I can’t think of a cooler place to camp than the zoo!
First stop, was a show with Dr. Zoolittle. My kids were fascinated by him and if you ever have a chance to check out his show at the zoo, I highly recommend it.
They brought out several of the animals we had just seen in The Wild Life movie, including a Pangolin, my son’s new favorite and an animal I wasn’t even familiar with before.
My 10 year old wants to be a zookeeper when he grows up so this camping trip was pretty much a dream come true for him.
Everyone was pretty excited when they found out we were going to be taking a bus tour of the zoo. We’ve been members at the San Diego Zoo but we very rarely used the bus because we usually had littles in strollers. This time we left the twins at home so we could move around at lot easier than we usually could.
While we were on the tour, we got a great look at this beautiful guy.
After getting settled in our tents and having a quick dinner we got up close and personal with some animals. It was so fun to get so close to the animals in such a small group setting. Usually we are fighting the crowds when we are at the zoo.
My kids were fascinated by all of the animals. I loved seeing the looks on their faces as each new animal came out.
No campout is complete without S’mores! It was so fun to cook our s’mores around a campfire while listening to the sounds of the animals in the zoo.
After doing a quick recycled craft project, we headed out on my favorite part of the campout — a scavenger hunt in the zoo after dark!
I had no idea my kids were so competitive. My older boys were OBSESSED with winning and since they knew the zoo so well they had us running from place to place to find the answers we needed for the scavenger hunt. I was worn out by the end.
The last activity of the night was a night walk around the zoo with a zookeeper. This was by far my favorite part of the night. I could have spent hours walking around and listening to stories about the animals. It was so fun to hear about the different personalities of each animal that lives at the zoo and learn little tidbits that you don’t often get to hear.
We even caught the lion wide awake. Walking up to him in the dark was a bit eerie but such a cool experience.
We were told that the lion was known for waking people up with a roar at the crack of down. We didn’t hear him but my kids sure had fun lying in the tent listening to monkeys, birds, and all kinds of other animals singing to each other.
The next morning, I was sure there wasn’t much planned. We had packed so much into the night before already. I was thrilled when the zoo staff brought out another animal just after breakfast and let the kids get right up close to see.
On our way out of the zoo, we were told there was one more surprise and it was a good one!
We were taken into the stadium to meet a few predators. The first animals to come out were the wolves. We were so close to these animals that we could have reached out and touched them (a few kids actually asked if they could pet them and the trainer was like, “no way”). It was crazy being so close to these amazing animals.
I truly thought that was the end of our adventure. It was a huge highlight to see these powerful animals up close and we all could have gone home happy at that point.
To understand what happened next, I’ll have to give you a bit of background. My 10 year old son, the one who wants to be a zookeeper, has been fascinated with one particular animal for the last several years. We’ve taken special trips to the zoo just to see this animal. The trick is, it’s one that’s a bit hard to see up close.
He nearly jumped out of his seat when a cheetah, his animal obsession, walked out on stage only a few feet in front of him.
The look on his face was worth the weekend trip to the zoo right there.
The zoo pairs some of their animals up with dogs as companions. They put the animals together while they are young and raise them together so the cheetah’s dog came out too. My kids got to pet him and they loved hanging out with the “cheetah’s best friend”.
We said goodbye to the flamingos on our way out of the zoo. I had some very happy kids on my hands and I know they will remember this experience for their entire lives. Let’s be honest, I had a pretty good time myself.
This is an experience I’m so glad my family got to have. We are going to remember it every time we see The Wild Life movie.
The Wild Life movie is out in theaters this Friday. Be sure and check it out!
Thanks to Lionsgate for hosting my family at this fun event!
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