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Miller Park Zoo

June 9, 2014

  • Miller Park Zoo1020 S. Morris Avenue
  • Bloomington, IL 61701
  • (309) 434-2250
  • Website

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, we had to make an emergency trip to Bloomington, IL last weekend.  My grandma wasn’t doing well and we wanted to get there to see her and be with my mom.

I was working on Mackinac Island when all of this went down, so as soon as I got back to West Michigan, we packed up and made the five hour drive south.

That’s a lot of driving for a two year old and she did incredibly well.  She also did incredibly well at the hospital and provided some much needed smiles for my mom.

My mom wanted to stay the night at the hospital Friday night, so J, L, and I Pricelined a cheap hotel and went to get some sleep.   I fully expected to get woken up in the middle of the night by my mom giving me the bad news and asking me to come pick her up.

That didn’t happen that night, so when we woke up Saturday morning, we wanted to do something with L before heading back to the hospital to sit with my mom.

If you follow this blog, you know that L likes animals.  We have been to several zoos already this summer and we were close to a zoo that J and I hadn’t been to in quite a while.

The Miller Park Zoo is on a small plot of land inside Miller Park in the City of Bloomington.  The physical address is on South Morris Street but the entrance is actually on Wood Street.  You have to kind of wind your way through the park to get to the parking lot for the zoo.  

The Miller Park Zoo dates it’s history back to the late 1800’s with the first city money being spent on the care of animals in 1891 though the origins of the zoo actually start after the turn of the century.  The oldest remaining building in the zoo is the Koetthoefer Animal Building which was opened 100 years ago.

We arrived at the zoo about twenty minutes before it opened, so we stayed in the car and watched Frozen for the ???th time.  As the 9:30 opening neared, more and more families made their way from the playground to the zoo entrance to get in line.

I think I’ve mentioned in the past that we buy a membership to Binder Park Zoo every year now that we have a daughter that loves zoos.  That membership gives us discounts to several zoos around the country.  Miller Park is one of those that we get a discount for so it only cost us $6 to get in.  I added on a couple carousel rides which had to be purchased at the entrance and we were in for less than $10.

After making our way through the small entrance building, we came in to the small, but well maintained zoo.  The first exhibit right up front is the Wallaby Walkabout.  This cool exhibit doesn’t have any cages…just a rope to separate you from the wallaby’s that are free to hop around the exhibit.  There are also a couple cages with some birds native to Australia, but it was the hopping wallaby’s that caught L’s eye.

Once walking out of that, we came right up to the Red Ruffed Lemur cage…and they were getting breakfast.  The active little guys were following around the zoo keeper around looking for more food.  We actually hung out there for quite a while then moved around the corner.

Along the way to the Animal Building, we came across otters, seals, and red pandas.  All were active, but L kept asking to see a lion.  There are no lions at Miller Park, but there is a tiger and that’s where we were headed.

The Katthoefer Animal Building is home to the big animals at Miller Park Zoo.  The Sun Bears, Gibbon, Leopard, and Tiger all call this building home.  They have both inside and outside areas.  We checked the outside first and no one was really out yet, so we headed inside where the bears and tiger were both pretty active and both checking L out through the fence.

We left the Animal Building and started walking towards the Children’s Zoo.  Along the way, we passed a Texas Longhorn, Reindeer, Singing Dogs and a Koi Pond, but L got a glimpse of the carousel and she didn’t care about anything else.

The carousel wasn’t open yet, so we tried to take her to pet the goats, but she was screaming wanting to go on the carousel.  We kept trying to explain that it wasn’t open yet, but that didn’t matter.  We eventually just went and sat next to the carousel and waited for it to open.

The carousel was supposed to open at 10:00, but it was closer 10:15 before it was ready to go.  Once they finally opened the gate, L rushed to the tiger and waited for me to pick her up.  Of course, the tiger was the only animal that didn’t go up and down.  She didn’t care, she just wanted to ride the tiger and just like we figured, there was a slight meltdown when the ride was over.  I still had another token in my pocket, but we didn’t want to use it right away.  We would have liked to have seen some more animals…and we tried, but everything kept coming back to the carousel.

We left the carousel and went to sit by the bald eagles for a while and had a quick snack before checking out the bobcats, hawks, and wolves before heading in to the Zoo Lab.  As soon as we walked in to the Zoo Lab, the Meerkats in a glass enclosure, popped up and ran to meet L.  She giggled at them for a few minutes and ran up and down the length of the enclosure and laughed as they followed her.  There are also a few other hands on exhibits in the Zoo Lab and some puzzle and learning areas for the kids.

At this point, we had made our way through the whole zoo, so we decided to use the last carousel token.  As soon as we walked out of the Zoo Lab, L was asking for it again, so we went back and L took her this time.  Once again, there was a mini-meltdown when the ride stopped, but the lady running it offered L one more free ride.  L stayed on the ride with her and they switched animals.  Things were a little better after the third ride, but L still wasn’t ready to leave, there were more animals to ride.

Unfortunately, we needed to get back to the hospital, so we tried to explain to L it was time to go.  She loved the hour or so we spent at Miller Park Zoo and didn’t want to leave.  The zoo isn’t huge, but they have a lot of great exhibits and it’s a great little zoo to spend a few hours at with the family.

Miller Park Zoo

Miller Park Zoo

Miller Park Zoo

Miller Park Zoo

Miller Park Zoo

Miller Park Zoo

Miller Park Zoo

Miller Park Zoo


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