Last weekend, my mom and 3 year old niece visited from Michigan. When browsing the racks on information at our visitor’s center, one brochure in particular got my attention. I picked up the information for Special Memories Zoo and curiously read thru the information and decided that we were going to give it a try on Saturday. Both my niece and I are BIG animal lovers so the trip would be as much for me as it would be for her!
Special Memories is in Greenville, an easy and well-marked 8-10 minute drive from the Fox River Mall. We were shocked to find only a handful of cars in the zoo parking lot. To our advantage (both for the number of people and how active the animals were), it was a little damp and cool that morning. We entered the zoo and paid our $6.50 admission for the adults and $5 for my niece, a real bargain, and were instantly surprised at what we saw! The zoo, although small, was an amazing experience and value. They had everything from things that you expect to see in a zoo to lions, a rare white tiger, bears (oh my), monkeys, a zebra, a reptile house, an aviary, and so much more! The smaller size of the zoo really worked to our advantage. During the zoos open hours, the animals are in pens no more than 2-3 feet from where people can stand to best view the animals. Their food and water we also towards the front of their pens. We were able to see all of the animals’ right up close and even interact with them.
They also had an amazing petting zoo or as my niece referred to it her “favorite place in the world!” From my experience on petting zoos, most of the animals are so annoyed with people that they tend to hide in a far corner or avoid people. At Special Memories, animals flocked to have you pet them! There were all kinds of animals including baby bunnies, calves, goats, a baby donkey, chickens, pot belly pigs, deer, oxen and more. They also had several rare animals that they would bring out when we asked for us to pet including baby skunks (with their stinkers removed), a baby fox, a rare baby white fox, and more. I could not believe how much we got to see and touch!
One piece of advice is to take the zoo’s train. It isn’t really advertised that I saw, however, if you follow the signs, you can enjoy a 30 minute train ride. My expectation was that it would take us around the park and show us what we just saw… I was wrong. For an additional $2 per person, we were taken back to the woods of the zoo where other animals were kept. When we approached each pen of animals, the driver of the train stopped it and got out to give us a closer look of each of the animals as well as share some interesting information. The woods included animals like rare white wolves, a dancing and friendly badger (who knew there was such a thing), whitetail deer, porcupines, and more. My favorite animal on the ride was the fox. He’s been raised in the petting zoo and was really friendly. When he saw the train approaching, he started jumping and getting excited, much like a dog would. Our driver opened his door and he leaped into her arms. She carried the fox around the train so that everyone could get a close up of him. The fox put on a great show and I know that everyone left thinking that they wanted to go out and get a pet fox!
I would highly recommend Special Memories Zoo to everyone! It was the cleanest and more up close zoo that I’ve ever been to. It was also a great bargain and only $8.50 per adult (including the train ride). When you go, don’t forget to take your picnic basket and grab a picnic table next to your favorite animal. They have a baby giraffe coming soon so that would be my recommendation! I made so many special memories at Special Memories Zoo and can’t wait to go back!