I panic when graced with a warm, sunny day in Central New York. I feel like I have to fill the day with outdoor activities until sundown. I know I’m not alone—don’t you want to get wild when a CNY day greets you with sunshine? Yesterday, we met the challenge. We found another local gem that I had no idea existed until a friend said, “Let’s go!”
The Wild Animal Park in Chittenango is a big petting zoo (except for the black bears, lions and gators—I wouldn’t pet them). But we did pet and feed a camel, giraffe, goats, llamas… To Team Molasses, we had a great time! Tammy, Zach and Abby, thanks for getting wild with Team Turtle yesterday.
Here’s the skinny on the park: It’s a 45-minute drive from Utica. We took Rt. 5, which is more scenic than the Thruway and has more stopping opportunities for the little people. Zoo parking was easy. It cost under $30 for our team of three, which included the entrance fee and food for the critters. The buildings are fairly new and have an Adirondack flavor—honey-stained wood galore, carved benches and bears, stone accents… There’s a new building under construction that looks like it will be the entrance area, store, and (according to their Facebook page) it will house more exhibits.
What I liked: The Adirondack theme is a real treat. The animals are kept in sizable enclosures, and many have shade or covered areas for weather relief. The park is strict in not allowing food or drinks “to keep the animals safe.” They sell hot food and cold drinks in the food pavilion, which is about halfway around the park. A covered picnic area next to the lake makes for a breezy break. The park’s size is perfect for a family outing; there are enough animals to keep it interesting, yet it’s not so big that it’s exhausting. Although Teams Turtle and Molasses took longer than most (my 23-month old had his own timeline), it was an easy stroll.
Room for improvement: It has been wet, and the day’s heat made for a smelly, steamy entrance area. The stretch of park from the entrance to the food shack needs shade trees or pergolas. The entrance clerk took my water bottle, so I was parched by the time we got to the food shack. While I have zero doubt that proper restrooms are coming in the new building, they presently have port-a-potties.
I love that The Wild is improving and growing. It’s good family fun that is educational and won’t bend the wallet. It’s worth the trip and we will go back. Thanks again Team Molasses for sharing this Central New York gem!