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Family Fun in Illinois: Henson Robinson Zoo

Three years ago during Memorial Day weekend, my husband and I took our daughter to Springfield, Illinois. Our first stop of the rainy afternoon was the Illinois State Museum. We had planned to take her to the Henson Robinson Zoo, but the weather was just too icky when we arrived in the city. Fortunately, when we left the museum, the rain had stopped and the weather had cleared up a bit. Discovering that the zoo was open until the early evening, we decided to make a second stop that Saturday. And boy were we glad that we decided to check out the Henson Robinson Zoo too.

Henson C. Robinson Children's Zoo Plaque in the Henson C. Robinson Children's Zoo

The Henson Robinson Zoo is home to over 90 species of native and exotic animals native to Australia, Africa, Asia, and North and South America. As a children’s zoo, Henson Robinson Zoo houses its animals in naturalistic exhibits that are highly accessible to even the smallest child. I particularly liked the use of space at the zoo. In the areas between the cages, other animals made their homes in more open enclosures. Although fairly small in size, the zoo is home to a lot of animals because of the clever use of space. Plus, with all the enclosures right next to the walkways, my daughter could see all the animals clearly and easily.

With our Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) membership that we purchased some weeks ago for the Miller Park Zoo, we got into the Henson Robinson Zoo for free. To show our support, I did donate a few dollars. We also made a purchase in the gift shop. My daughter got a cute little shirt with Henson Robinson Zoo written on the front.

Peacock at the Henson Robinson Zoo 1 Peacock at the Henson Robinson Zoo 2

Magpie Goose at the Henson Robinson Zoo Owls at the Henson Robinson Zoo

Wallabies at the Henson Robinson Zoo Wallaby at the Henson Robinson Zoo

Big Cat at the Henson Robinson Zoo Muntjac at the Henson Robinson Zoo

As we walked around the zoo, a few of the animals really caught our attention. First, the Henson Robinson Zoo is home to quite a lot of owls. I particularly loved seeing the owls up close and personal. My daughter was fascinated by the peacocks that roamed free around the zoo. She even got to see one from just a few feet away and another that had his tail feathers open for show. Peacocks are so beautiful!

My daughter also really loved checking out the farm animals. One of the two Shetland ponies was as interested in her as she was interested in him. He tried his best to get to her through his fence! She also really loved the goats. She laughed and smiled as the goats stuck their heads through the fence to eat the grass off her shoes. She also really loved helping me feed the goats some of the goat food that I bought. A few months ago my daughter had been afraid of the goats at the Miller Park Zoo. This time, however, she even petted some of the goats on the head from her stroller!

Asiatic Black Bear at the Henson Robinson Zoo 1 Asiatic Black Bear at the Henson Robinson Zoo 2

Cows at the Henson Robinson Zoo Horse at the Henson Robinson Zoo

Barn Owl at the Henson Robinson Zoo Chickens at the Henson Robinson Zoo

Red Wolf at the Henson Robinson Zoo Geese at the Henson Robinson Zoo

Other animals that I really liked included the African painted dogs, the cougars, and the bobcats. The two African painted dogs were so beautiful. Both also kept following a zookeeper around in the hopes of some food. Although wild animals, the African painted dogs were definitely dogs. Both acted just like my two dogs when begging for food. The cougars were also amazing to see. I could also definitely see that my cat is related to the huge big cats. When we approached the enclosure, one of the cougars hissed at us just like our cat, Princess, does when angered. The bobcats, too, resembled our cat amazingly. My daughter loved watching the bobcats chase each other around the cage and into the tree in the middle of the enclosure. I could have watched the bobcats all day!

Cougar at the Henson Robinson Zoo 1 Cougar at the Henson Robinson Zoo 2

Cougar at the Henson Robinson Zoo 3 Cougar at the Henson Robinson Zoo 4

Cougar at the Henson Robinson Zoo 5 Bobcat at the Henson Robinson Zoo

River Otter at the Henson Robinson Zoo 1 River Otter at the Henson Robinson Zoo 2

Finally, our last stop at the zoo was the river otter. My daughter is absolutely wild about river otters. And I must say that the river otter at the Henson Robinson Zoo was quite a ham. As soon as he saw us approach, he began showing off. He dove into his pool and swam around. Then he would come up and look at us through the glass on the sides of his home. Then he would swim around again. If we stopped watching, he would come back up to the glass to get our attention. The river otter was quite the show off and made a perfect ending to a great afternoon at the zoo! If you are ever in the Springfield area of Illinois, I highly recommend spending a few hours at the Henson Robinson Zoo.

River Otter at the Henson Robinson Zoo 3 River Otter at the Henson Robinson Zoo 3

River Otter at the Henson Robinson Zoo 4 River Otter at the Henson Robinson Zoo 5

White Geese at the Henson Robinson Zoo African Wild Dogs at the Henson Robinson Zoo 1

African Wild Dog at the Henson Robinson Zoo African Wild Dogs at the Henson Robinson Zoo 2

For more information, visit the Henson Robinson Zoo website.

Image Credits

Henson C. Robinson Children’s Zoo © 2013 Heather Johnson
Plaque in the Henson C. Robinson Children’s Zoo © 2013 Heather Johnson
Peacock at the Henson Robinson Zoo 1 © 2013 Heather Johnson
Peacock at the Henson Robinson Zoo 2 © 2013 Heather Johnson
Magpie Goose at the Henson Robinson Zoo © 2013 Heather Johnson
Owls at the Henson Robinson Zoo © 2013 Heather Johnson
Wallabies at the Henson Robinson Zoo © 2013 Heather Johnson
Wallaby at the Henson Robinson Zoo © 2013 Heather Johnson
Big Cat at the Henson Robinson Zoo © 2013 Heather Johnson
Muntjac at the Henson Robinson Zoo © 2013 Heather Johnson
Asiatic Black Bear at the Henson Robinson Zoo 1 © 2013 Heather Johnson
Asiatic Black Bear at the Henson Robinson Zoo 2 © 2013 Heather Johnson
Cows at the Henson Robinson Zoo © 2013 Heather Johnson
Horse at the Henson Robinson Zoo © 2013 Heather Johnson
Barn Owl at the Henson Robinson Zoo © 2013 Heather Johnson
Chickens at the Henson Robinson Zoo © 2013 Heather Johnson
Red Wolf at the Henson Robinson Zoo © 2013 Heather Johnson
Geese at the Henson Robinson Zoo © 2013 Heather Johnson
Cougar at the Henson Robinson Zoo 1 © 2013 Heather Johnson
Cougar at the Henson Robinson Zoo 2 © 2013 Heather Johnson
Cougar at the Henson Robinson Zoo 3 © 2013 Heather Johnson
Cougar at the Henson Robinson Zoo 4 © 2013 Heather Johnson
Cougar at the Henson Robinson Zoo 5 © 2013 Heather Johnson
Bobcat at the Henson Robinson Zoo © 2013 Heather Johnson
River Otter at the Henson Robinson Zoo 1 © 2013 Heather Johnson
River Otter at the Henson Robinson Zoo 2 © 2013 Heather Johnson
River Otter at the Henson Robinson Zoo 3 © 2013 Heather Johnson
River Otter at the Henson Robinson Zoo 4 © 2013 Heather Johnson
River Otter at the Henson Robinson Zoo 5 © 2013 Heather Johnson
White Geese at the Henson Robinson Zoo © 2013 Heather Johnson
Crested Porcupine at the Henson Robinson Zoo © 2013 Heather Johnson
African Wild Dogs at the Henson Robinson Zoo 1 © 2013 Heather Johnson
African Wild Dog at the Henson Robinson Zoo © 2013 Heather Johnson
African Wild Dogs at the Henson Robinson Zoo 2 © 2013 Heather Johnson

  • SunshineFLGirl

    I LOVE the peacock photo! I’m glad y’all got the opportunity to visit the zoo even though it tried to rain y’all out. Nothing wrong a museum either, though.

  • http://dailydealsfromanerdmom.com/ Jess Benoit

    The zoo looks like so much fun! I am wanting to plan a trip for the family soon. Great pictures!

  • maria @ close to home

    I grew up in Illinois but never made it to that zoo. Zoos are such educational places

  • Kelly

    Those peacocks are so pretty! It looks like you guys had a wonderful day!

  • http://www.theroadtodomestication.com/ Kristen from The Road to Domes

    Looks like a beautiful place! Love those otters especially :)

  • Kristi Nelson Renner

    We were in Springfield last year as my sister and her family lived just south of there. There is so much to do, we plan to head back again, hopefully this summer.

  • Amber Ludwig

    We love love love the zoo!! We go there twice a week when the weather gets nice!! Ours doesn’t have as many owls as this one though!!

  • Alison Bergstrom Grant

    What a fun place to visit! I loved all the pictures of the animals!

  • http://www.sahmreviews.com Scott

    We’ve been through Springfield a number of times, usually on our way to St. Louis. Didn’t realize they had a zoo there at all!

    • http://parentingpatch.com/ Heather Johnson

      We are zoo connoisseur! My goal is to go to as many zoos around the country as possible! The Springfield zoo is nice because of its kid-friendly design.

  • http://www.tobethode.com/ Stefany @ ToBeThode

    This looks like a really great zoo. I bet it is a great time!

  • Laura

    Looks like you guys got to see a lot of different animals! We always love visiting the zoo! :)

  • Carlee C

    This is a great spot for families and educational. It has been over 6 months since we have been to the area zoo, and I am ready to go back.

  • Danielle Knapp

    This looks like a great zoo to bring kids to. I know my son would love seeing the otters.

  • Nina McClain

    I love taking my niece to the zoo! Well, plus I love going to the zoo. :)

  • http://www.greenteaandcotton.com Amanda Baldwin

    How awesome to see a zoo use the space to maximum. I know some zoos don’t and I feel bad for those animals. So glad you got to go!

  • disqus_Z4rcO6h3Ia

    This looks like a great zoo for kids. The animals look friendly. The river otter is adorable.

  • Hannah Malanga

    what a lovely day out! I love the zoo. The picture of the peacock is beautiful

  • Brittany Hardin

    I cant wait to go to the zoo!

  • http://www.thevampirequeendiaries.info/ Mai C.

    What a fun day! The zoo is always a great place for learning! Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Tua Mukherjee Chatterjee

    What fun you guys had! Loved the experience. I love visiting zoos. Thanks!

  • Rosie

    what a cute little zoo and so many adorable critters. There isn’t anything like this near us at all!

  • Edna Williams

    What fun! The zoo is great for kids! Thanks for sharing!

  • Barrie

    My sister would love this with all the owls!

  • Jerry Marquardt

    I would love to visit this, next time I go to Springfield. I live up in a Chicago suburb.

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