By Christina VanGinkel
If you happen to be anywhere in the vicinity of Green Bay Wisconsin, and are a lover of anything wildlife related, be sure to stop by the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary and the New Zoo. Both are a fantastic way to become one with nature, enjoy a stroll outdoors, and be introduced to a wide range of animal life, birds, and scenery all at their finest.
Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary
The Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, located at 1660 East Shore Drive Green Bay, WI 54302, is situated on 700 acres, and is referred to as an urban wildlife refuge. The first time we visited it was many years ago, and we have been back numerous times since. Each time, we are greeted by something new, something amazing. If we run to Green Bay for just about any reason, if we have the time available, or think we do, we make sure and stop by for at least a quick visit, as it is the perfect place to unwind from a busy schedule. It is open year round, and while they do accept donations, admittance is free, so it really is open to anyone who has a love of the outdoors.
The park has 6.5 miles of trail available, that you can hike in the spring, summer, fall, and cross-country ski on in the winter months, weather permitting. There are picnic areas available to enjoy an outdoor meal, and wheelchairs are available for those who need a little extra help traversing the park.
There are a few rules that the park posts, including no pets allowed, stay on the marked trails, and only feed the geese and ducks. Do not feed the other animals. For a full list of rules, they are posted about for all to see.
There is a large indoor Nature Education Center, which is home to many hands-on exhibits. The center is home to an Estuary, library, animal encounter pods, including insects and spiders, mammals, birds, and reptiles and amphibians. The building also offers vending machines and indoor bathrooms, an art gallery, and a gift shop.
The New Zoo
The New Zoo, along with the Brown County Reforestation Camp, is actually located about eleven miles northwest of Green Bay, but is well worth the drive out. Together they cover a 1560-acre parcel of land, encompassing both the zoo itself, along with miles of trails, trout ponds, and picnic areas. The grounds are also home to a large playground area, and there are grills available for anyone wanting to have an impromptu or planned outdoor picnic with hot, grilled foods. They also host special events throughout the year, such as breakfast with the Easter Bunny to help you celebrate Easter, and trick or treating throughout the park during Halloween.
The zoo itself has gone through several transformations since its origination, all seemingly for the better. New animals are often arriving, and I never tire of stopping by for a visit. Our most memorable trip was when my youngest son was all of about three or four years old (he is now thirteen) and he so wanted to go play with the monkeys. He proclaimed he was hot, begged to take off his t-shirt, which I allowed him to do, then nonchalantly tossed it up to the fence by the monkeys. They had it in an instant, and we had to ask maintenance for help to retrieve it. I will admit I was embarrassed, but we have never forgotten this, and to this day, we ask him if he wants to go play with the monkeys every time we head to Green Bay, no matter the occasion!
The New Zoo is home to many different animals, with their newest arrivals a pair of giraffes by the names of Hodari and Zuri, nicknamed Brave and Pretty. They arrived at the end of 2005, and have made themselves right at home, among the population of both foreign and domestic animals. The zoo houses animals from Australia, Africa, the North American Plains, and several that are native to Wisconsin.
The next time you happen to be in the Green Bay Wisconsin area, be sure to take time out and stop by the New Zoo and the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, you will not be disappointed!