The Minnesota Zoo

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Minnesota Zoo: Sign
image credit used with Creative Common license approval

One of the biggest attractions in the Twin Cities is located in the Southern Metro:

The Minnesota Zoo.

Located on 500 acres off Cedar Ave. in Apple Valley, the zoo opened in May, 1978.  The Minnesota Zoo’s mission is to connect people, animals, and the natural world.

While it’s not the famous San Diego Zoo with Jack Hannah, it is the biggest zoo in our state, and the Minnesota Zoo holds its own. The Minnesota Zoo has 546 different species of animals and altogether it has 4,200 animals.

Different trails and exhibits fill the zoo.  During the summer, you are able to roam the

  •  Northern Trail,
  • Russia’s Grizzly Coast,
  • or the Family Farm.

The winter months are more likely going to entice you to stay inside to visit

  •  the Minnesota Trail (a trail enclosed in a building, but with windows out to the different animal habitats),
  •  the Tropics Trail,
  • and Discovery Bay (where the dolphins used to live, but it is still full of other marine life).


Russia’s Grizzly Coast!  We were able to get right up and personal.

You can pretend to be paleontologists and dig up mammoth fossils.

Discovery Bay used to host dolphins, but the dolphins have moved on, and they have shut down the pool for major renovations.   When they reopen, I believe they are going to be checking in some new residents like sharks and such.

Hanging out at the Family Farm.  (there is also a grain elevator which is a HUGE play area for kids right outside the Family Farm. )

My friend and I were so curious about the chickens!  And their funny feathers.

On the Tropics Trail:  Monkeys, tortoises, Komodo Dragon, birds, and to be fair — snakes and bats.  Honestly, I ran through those exhibits because to be able to leave, we had to follow the trail through those habitats.  I. Hate. Snakes/Bats.

Flamingos!  Looks like they have had plenty of shrimp!

 Don’t expect to see Elephants or Giraffes or Zebras.  While they don’t have those or lions, the Minnesota Zoo is proud to work with Tigers and other exotic cats: Lynx and Leopards.
Some of the popular animals are brown bears, grizzly bears, camels, musk oxen, porcupines, Gibbons, Lemurs,Tree Kangaroos, Red pandas, wolverines, and gray wolves.
The Minnesota Zoo hosts shark feedings, wild bird shows, penguin shows, cow milking demonstrations, and coral reef diving shows.  And don’t forget the monorail.  When I was a kid in the 1980’s, it was the premiere state-of-the-art technology.  Now, it’s just a fun ride.
A full day at the Minnesota Zoo will wear you out and your children out. I recommend it for a full day of fun.  It’s a bit on the pricey side, but they do offer group rates and there is always the option to buy a year membership. They allow you bring in picnic lunches to help save on cost.  However, if you need it, they also have food vendors.

13000 Zoo Boulevard
Apple Valley, MN 55124
Currently, the hours until April 30, 2013 are
Sunday through Saturday 9:00 am-4:00 pm.
From May 1-May 24, 2013
Saturday and Sundays 9:00 am-6:00 pm
Mondays through Friday 9:00-4:00 pm
Prices range from free (for those 2 and under) to $12- $18.  If you want to do the Zoo and IMAX combo, those run $18.50-$25.75 (free for those 2 and under). Parking is $6 per car, $10 per bus, and $15 per motocoach.
Members have free parking during regular zoo hours.

Memberships Levels 

Individual Membership $55
One member.

Dual Membership $100
•Two members at same address.
•One member and guest.* 

Household Membership $130 
One or two members at same address and their dependent children 21 and under. 

Household Plus Membership $155
Same as Household, PLUS one free guest each visit.*

Grandparent Membership $130
One or two members at same address and their grandchildren age 21 and under. Grandchildren must be accompanied by a named member. 

Grandparent Plus Membership $155
Same as Grandparent membership PLUS one free guest each visit.*  Grandchildren must be accompanied by a named member.
*Guest must be accompanied by a named member. 


some images courtesy Minnesota Zoo, used with permission

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About the author

Gianna Kordatzky

I am married to the craziest, most awesome man I know. We have four kids--Ranging in ages from 5-10. You can learn more about my life as a mother and wife at .

I love to throw parties and be with friends. I love to read my Bible and grow closer to God. I love to eat and exercise. I have learned to love coffee.
And I could really use a nap.

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