I was lucky enough to be invited along on a day trip to Southern Rockbridge, just about two hours to our north. We covered so much ground that I am going to divide the trip into three posts: the Natural Bridge Zoo, Dinosaurs Attack II, and the Natural Bridge Caverns and river walk. We had two pre-teens and three adults. Everyone had an absolute blast at each stop.
It’s been a hot July so we started off our day at the zoo. This was a really good suggestion by the Natural Bridge Caverns people. They sold us a ticket package for all the events that we would be seeing and suggested that the zoo is better in the morning when temps are cooler. “Hot” in this part of Virginia is generally humid and 90 but it still cools off at night. Nighttime temps generally drop to around 70, a little more if we are lucky. Even when it’s “hot”, it’s reasonably comfortable until around lunchtime.
I really enjoyed the zoo. It was nice. I encourage folks to go and give it a gander. See it for yourself.
There was a good video put out by the zoo but it is no longer available on YouTube. There were a couple of points made in the video that I thought were important. First was that this zoo specializes in birds and hoofstock. I am a bit partial to birds and they do have quite a lot of different varieties. There is an unusual number of monkeys given this specialty. I have no explanation for that.
I’m not a veterinarian and I have no knowledge of what these animals need. As a patron that day, I did not feel like any of the animals looked mistreated. The guys next to the lemurs looked sad (their sign said that they were on the shy side) and some of the birds looked hot (it was a hot day) but, other than that, I did not feel uncomfortable about what I saw.
Most of the enclosures were dedicated to a specific type of animal but one notable exception was the cage for the capuchins. The capuchins look like the kind of monkey from Indiana Jones and they seemed perfectly happy in this conical cage surrounded by chickens, tortoises, and an odd deer/goat animal that seemed very inquisitive and sweet.
The center of the zoo is dedicated to large paddock areas. This is where the elephant is. He has a fairly extensive play area but he was busy dousing himself with water while we were watching.
This big fellow was in a paddock across the lane from one of the types of monkeys that were particularly loud and gymnastic. The sign said that these guys didn’t like noise so they pretty much stayed in the shade on the far side of the paddock.
Can anyone else see a zebra without thinking of the Madagascar movies?
We were followed around for a little while by a lovely little bird that seemed to be able to slip in and out of his or her fenced area at will.
I don’t know if the llamas would spit on you or not but I’ve always heard that they will. While the fellow in the photo below looks friendly, he always had a bubble of spit on his lips. I was never sure that he wasn’t just trying to get us a little closer to improve his aim.
I’m skipping a lot. There were camels and giraffes and exotic birds and just something new in every direction. I’ve selected the shots I’ve included in this post so that you have an idea what the zoo looks like in general. I encourage everyone to go check it out.
I did not see much in the way of snakes. One boa constrictor, I believe. There were two tigers, a huge black bear, and a mountain lion. So, if you are only thrilled by the “fierce creatures”, you will not be disappointed.
Go in the morning to avoid the heat.
The nicest picnic pavilion is over by the mountain lion and tigers. You’ll end up there if you go in a counter-clockwise direction when starting.
The gift shop is full of good touristy things. I bought my host a commemorative shot glass (go ahead and snicker).
Buy food at the gift shop to feed the animals.
Buy your kid an elephant ride.
Plan on going to the Dinosaurs Attack II (right across the street) afterwards.