Once upon a time, the Phoenix Zoo was home to an elephant named Ruby, famous for using her trunk to work wonders with a paint brush.
Today, there’s still plenty of art — from wall murals to giant sculptures — at the Phoenix Zoo. But there’s also something more.
Endless inspiration for the young artists in your life who take along a sketch pad and some colored markers or pencils.
I’ve been going to the Phoenix Zoo with my children for twenty years. Most recently I went with my 21-year-old son Christopher, an animal and nature enthusiast, to take photos along several of the trails.
Here’s a bit of what we explored…
We entered under the globe that sports a penguin who greets visitors to the annual ZooLights event at the Phoenix Zoo
One of many birthday party areas we passed along the way
This happy frog is part of a large painting on a wall in the birthday area pictured above
"Land of the Dragons" is one of the Phoenix Zoo's many popular exhibits -- and includes a large dragon sculpture that kids of all ages love to climb and sit on
Signs like these throughout the Phoenix Zoo couple fun with learning
Children watch Kimodo Dragons in one of the Phoenix's Zoos many impressive exhibits
The Phoenix Zoo boasts plenty of benches and areas perfect for relaxation -- or drawing, writing poetry and such
We encountered several large birds who were happy to let children get close and admire them
These little critters were among the most popular with visitors of all ages
The Phoenix Zoo features animal-friendly habitats and people-friendly environments like this plaza near the Forest of Uco
This cheerful volunteer collects the trash left behind by Phoenix Zoo visitors (but I'll bet he'd love to be out of a job)
"Harmony Farm" features a petting zoo, giant tractors perfect for climbing, a play area for young children and much more
Phoenix Zoo visitors can rent boats and enjoy views from the lake
One of the Phoenix Zoo's newest and most popular exhibits
The Phoenix Zoo is full of kids-friendly architecture like this wall (which also happens to have a giant spider sculpture on top -- a clue to the exhibit located behind it)
We spotted a father and young son enjoying the view through this scope along one of the Phoenix Zoo's many wide paths
One of many spots that's perfect for playing peekaboo or taking family photos
Meadering paths make for charming walks for folks of all ages
Remind your children to follow Phoenix Zoo rules and make sure everyone has sunscreen, plenty of water and such
The gift shop has essentials like hats, inexpensive souvenirs and a great selection of birthday/holiday gifts (clothing, toys, books, stuffed animals, etc.)
Fresh air and exercise. Animal and people watching. Shopping for a good cause. Remember the Phoenix Zoo when you’re in the mood for any or all of the above.
If it’s been a while since you visited the Phoenix Zoo, now is a great time to explore the many new exhibits — and to enjoy the annual Zoolights event.
Note: The Phoenix Zoo is located in Papago Park, which is also home to hiking trails/picnic areas and the Desert Botanical Garden (which hosts an annual “Las Noches de las Luminarias” event each holiday season).
Coming up: Winter camps with an arts focus, Art adventures: Arizona Science Center, Swashbuckling adventure meets theological treatise, Visual arts in the Valley, Balancing Broadway and baby
Photos: Lynn Trimble