New Ways to Play at the Zoo

NORFOLK, VA – Thanks to a generous donation, there are new ways to nature play! The Virginia Zoo’s nature playground, the Run Wild! Nature Discovery Zone opened in June 2019 and has been a popular spot where guests both young and old can explore. The hopping logs, bamboo maze, balance beams, and even the benches in the shade of a magnificent oak tree offer opportunities to experience nature up close and at your own pace. 

Through a generous donation from the Mid-Atlantic Women’s Care honoring the memory of a long-time employee, Saune Feeley, Run Wild! has gotten some amazing new additions. Saune, a lifelong resident of Norfolk and Chesapeake, was known by her colleagues to have a positive and slightly eccentric personality, and remembering her in a place where children and families gather and play was the perfect fit.

Musical Fence
Magnifying Glass
Pebble Harp

The new structures include a hollow log tunnel where kids who love to crawl can channel their inner forest critter or look for real ones nestled in the bark or soil. Musically inclined guests will have fun figuring out the best way to create sound from a few unconventional instruments: a pebble harp and a musical fence. Navigate through the sensory garden and experience a rainbow of flowers and plants with interesting textures and delightful smells. Lastly, budding scientists can make observations about the world around them using a weather station and a mounted magnifying glass.

Keep an eye out for these new ways to play at the Zoo and give yourself the time in nature you need this fall! Studies have shown that unstructured play in natural spaces improves physical health, supports mental and emotional well-being, and promotes life-long conservation values.