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Ways to Save at Zoo

From playful monkeys to adorable baby elephants -- who doesn't love the zoo?! And, you might not know it, but you can save a lot of money at the zoo.

"Zoo memberships is a great way for families or anyone to enjoy the zoo year round," said David Brady, Houston Zoo, "It's the cost of less than two visits to the zoo. So if you come to the zoo twice a year you are going to make and save money by buying a zoo membership."

Depending on where you live, a family zoo membership can cost anywhere from $40 to $90. That's for unlimited trips and more.

"A zoo membership can be used to give you benefits at other zoos as far as discounts and in many cases free admission," said Brady, "Throughout the country the best value in any city is going to be a zoo membership."

So, you can use your membership to save money on your next vacation, too.

"One of the great things about it, no matter where you live in almost every case, you'll be able to use that zoo membership to get either a discount or free admission to a zoo or aquarium anywhere in the country," said Brady.

That's one way the Zarin family saves money.

"We bought a membership for the kids, specifically for them going to the zoo, learning and all of that," said Tanaz Zarin, "And it's great because we go to see my in laws every Thanksgiving and this is the third year in a row we have used our membership to get a discount here and it's great!"

And, if you haven't been to the zoo in a while, it might be different than what you remember.

"Zoos throughout the country no longer come to the zoo, walk around look at animals at a distance. It's have opportunities to interact with them," said David Brady, "Engage with guests, not just coming around looking at animals but getting involved. We want to give our guests ownership of the zoo to make them feel like they are involved and they are actively helping these animals."

You can interact with giraffe by feeding them! Zoo guests can get up close and personal twice a day.

"There are also 30 or more meet the keeper talks every single day where our animal keepers, the people who are intimately involved in the care, feeding and, in many cases, raising of these animals step forward from behind the scenes to the front of the scenes and engage in conversations with the guests," said Brady, "We have a termite mound, an artificial termite mound that the chimpanzee's use to get treats out of and it's right against the glass, so the visitors are literally inches away from watching the chimps use tools."

Some zoo locations allow you to pack your own lunch and bring in drinks, so you can save money that way, too. For kids young and old, a zoo membership is not just entertaining, it is educational.

"Each year we see them getting better at identifying things, learning and each year we can teach them more and we learn a lot too," said Zarin.

For more on the zoo locations that are part of the reciprocity program visit www.houstonzoo.org/Reciprocity.

You can also check the zoo in your town to see if they take part in the program.

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