Word around our neck of the woods is that a new outdoor play space is coming to Zoo grounds and it opens this Thursday night! The Zoo is unveiling its new Run Wild! Nature Discovery Zone, located directly across from the Australia Walkabout and adjacent to the historical chimp cage in Flora Point. A once barren landscape, this area has now come to life and is ready for its first guests!
Like a traditional playground, a nature play area encourages children to use their imagination to play, but unlike the traditional play structure, the Run Wild! Nature Discovery Zone is unstructured and informal play that incorporates the natural and surrounding landscape and vegetation to bring nature to children’s daily outdoor play and learning environments. It is proven to powerfully boost the cognitive, creative, physical, social and emotional development of children, as well as instill empathy for the great outdoors.
So how does one “nature play”? The only real answer is: however you want.
There are multiple opportunities for adventure her – jump from stump to stump to evade the lava, climb on the boulders while imagining hanging off a cliff at the edge of the world, trek through the bamboo maze like a hungry Red panda, dig through the sandboxes to unveil the fossils of an undiscovered dinosaur species, use the sensory tables to work on your knot tying skills for your sailing excursion to a remote island, and even walk through the magical willow tunnel to get your wish granted. What happens at each play stop may be a figment of the creator’s imagination, but the fun they will be having and life skills they will be learning are real.
One of the best parts about the new nature play area? Extra opportunities for fun with education events from Zoo staff and a few surprise visits from animal ambassadors at the Conservation Cabin. Not only can children imagine soaring like a parrot or slithering like a snake, but they may be able to meet one too.
The Run Wild! Nature Discovery Zone is whatever you make of it and we encourage everyone to become one with the wild. Just remember these few ground rules:
- Remember to respect nature, its inhabitants and each other.
- Play at your own risk – surfaces may be slippery or scratchy and clothes may get dirty.
- We’d also like to warn you, it may become difficult to get your child to leave!