The first eight years of my life were spent in Milwaukee, WI. The last several years I lived blocks from the Milwaukee zoo. Going to the zoo was one of my favorite activities. Since moving to Wausau, I have not been to a zoo. Recently, my mom and I took a road trip to Marshfield to check out the Wildwood Zoo.
One of the obstacles for wheelchair users is crowds. It is frustrating to navigate without running over a few toes. Additionally, crowds bring stares. I can usually overlook the stares (pun intended). However, crowds can bring more stares than I can handle. For this reason, I decided to check out the Wildwood Zoo during the off-season.
The day we decided to go was beautiful and sunny. We parked in the main parking lot, which was empty. There was only one accessible parking spot. So I guess that would be another advantage to visiting off-season! There was a barrier blocking the main entrance. There were no signs directing or instructing what entrance to use. We ended up finding our way after a walk through a park.
We came across a donation box at the entrance. The Wildwood Zoo is free, however, there was a suggested donation listed on the box. The entrance into the zoo was beautiful with a bridge going over a pond. Canadian geese were there to greet us.
Wide, paved walkways made the zoo very accessible. However, it was difficult to see the animals as the railings were all eye level from my viewpoint. The cages were small, but clean. The animals all appeared well cared for.
As we approached the large bird exhibit, my mom expressed her sadness. The open sky is where birds should be. However, we came across a sign which stated that the birds at the Wildwood Zoo have injuries or impairments which prevent them from surviving in the wild. Despite the cage, they are able to live out their lives well fed and cared for.
The Wildwood Zoo had a small variety of animals, including mountain lions, prairie dogs, timber wolves and foxes. The stars of the zoo were 2 black bears. The bears were obviously the VIPs as they had two separate enclosures connected by a bridge. It was fun watching them cross over the bridge above us.
There is a nature trail at the Wildwood Zoo. It was exciting to discover that the trail was wheelchair accessible! Rarely can I roll easily through the trees. My mom and I took a nice stroll and talked about life in general.
The off-season allowed us to casually stroll through the zoo. There were a handful of visitors, mostly elderly visitors and moms with small kids. We chatted with a nice lady who visits the zoo daily. She eagerly told us all about the animals and their habits.
However, the off-season has it’s drawbacks. There was a bare bones staff present, so it was difficult to ask questions. We had to look up a map of the zoo on my phone to try to find an accessible bathroom. We walked in circles and finally stumbled upon them. It was so very disappointing to discover that the accessible bathrooms were gender specific.
We ended our trip to the Wildwood Zoo rolling through the Large Animal Drive. You can drive through this area or walk through. It was very difficult to see any of the animals, but we still enjoyed the scenic drive. We also stumbled on an accessible port-a-potty. It was large enough for my chair and not gender specific. However, had we not driven through we would not have known it existed, as it was not listed on the map.
The Wildwood Zoo is definitely worth the drive. It was a nice, quiet adventure. If crowds are not your thing, go during the off-season. The zoo is very accessible, even financially accessible. It is not a fancy zoo, but the animals are well cared for. There is a nice park right outside the zoo perfect for a picnic.
I can check visiting the Wildwood Zoo off my fall bucket list! However, I will be putting it on my winter bucket list! They have a Christmas light event during the holidays that sounds beautiful!
Until next time, Keep Rollin’ and Keep Smilin’
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