Family Travel 2012

Nichole Livengood



Animal adventure: Mother Nature’s Café at the Lowcountry Zoo at Brookgreen Gardens

Posted 11/10/2012 7:08:00 AM

If you’re looking for a close encounter of the animal kind, make plans to visit the Lowcountry Zoo at Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet and take a walk through the well-manicured natural park with a volunteer from Mother Nature's Cafe.

As we found out, snack-time for the animals is a great opportunity to learn about the zoo’s inhabitants and see their little personalities come alive. The 50-minute tour is given twice daily and is free with garden admission.

You are free to walk around the zoo on your own, but the tour gives visitors the opportunity to learn about the animals as a volunteer feeds them snacks. The animals are quick to show their faces with the promise of food, so it’s a good opportunity to see them up close and also a good chance for volunteers to check on them several times a day.

First you meet the animals of the plantation including marsh tacky horses, mules and red devon cows - historic rare breeds like the ones people raised and worked in the 1800s. Egrets, Ibises, ducks and heron light on the boardwalk and railings for a bit of fish during the feeding in the Cypress Aviary. Brookgreen has the only known aviary built over an existing cypress swamp. Insider tip: Don’t forget the bug repellent. The mosquitos can be fierce at the park! My favorite part of the tour was meeting the two river otters. They frolicked and rolled around in the water waiting on their treats from the zoo volunteer.

Fun Fact: River otters can hold their breath for up to 8 minutes under water and can run as fast as 18 mph on land.

Alligators, eagles, and red and gray foxes are some of the other animals you see on the tour. Did you know that unlike the red fox, the gray fox can climb trees? Some of the foxes were just feet away from us enjoying their treats. I’ve never been so close to a fox before and they are really beautiful creatures.

Brookgreen Gardens is one few places in the United States that has earned accreditation from the American Association of Museums and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Admission to the gardens is valid for seven consecutive days. Admission for adults ages 13-64 is $14; seniors 65 and older $12; children ages 4-2 $7; children 3 and younger are admitted free. There are discount tickets available for groups of 15 or more. The park is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the last admission sold 30 minutes before closing.

Visit the zoo website for more information and news about special exhibits.