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After a long, hot summer it is finally time to kiss the big kids’ adieu and get down to business entertaining the little ones. One of the Upstate’s most useful resources lies in the heart of Greenville downtown. The Greenville Zoo, though small in acreage, packs a wallop in terms of programming for kiddos ages 4 and younger.

As a stay-at-home mom just getting her legs under her, some days were more than I could manage and one expedition out every few days seemed insurmountable. I knew I wanted to get outdoors though, and I found the perfect place was the zoo. A quick one-mile loop of the grounds entertained my newborn (and later toddler) and gave me some much-needed exercise. Though I did not know it at the time, I was missing out on some amazing programming and learning opportunities for my mini animal fan.

More: Tips for visiting Greenville Zoo

Lynn Watkins, education curator at the Greenville Zoo, says her favorite thing about working there is the fact our “shady and quaint, local zoo helps support local conservation projects.” Fresh off of the summer Zoo Camp and headed full tilt into the fall season, she enlightened me to some programs I never knew about for families and small ones. She is constantly looking for quality educational programs to add to the zoo and is looking for resources and donations to install a Little Free Library near the farm animals.

We love going to the library story time, and the zoo offers a Wild for Reading program every week. Watkins mentioned that some of the stories they read include a visit from one of the zoo animals. Docents lead the Tell Me About It Tuesdays programs which Watkins assured me “always include tactile pieces small hands can touch and learn while adults absorb some of the finer details about the animals.” Then there are the Zoo Tots program, which is a 45-minute parent/child experience geared specifically for 2- and 3-year-old kiddos. Saturday Safari programs are for the 4 and up ages.

While I never knew about those programs, I also learned there are seasonal family workshops that cater to a wider audience for families with multiple age groups.

Learn more

You can find more information about the zoo's family programs on their website at https://www.greenvillezoo.com/176/Family-Programs.

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