What: Roer’s Zoofari
Who: Jamie Davis Smith and her four kids, ages 5, 9, 12 and 13
When: Late June 2020
A visit to Roer’s Zoofari—a combination zoo and safari—is something that had been on my to-do list for a long time. After finally making the trip, I wish I had not waited so long. Roer’s was an up-close, interactive experience unlike any my children or I have had at any other zoo.
The Roer’s experience begins with the Self-Drive Safari tour. You drive slowly in your car then stop and wait for the nine different types of animals to come to you.
The bison, zebras, ostriches and other animals that approach your car want to be fed and pet. My children, ages 5, 9, 12 and 13, spent most of the safari laughing hysterically as various animals stuck their heads inside our open car windows. They found it especially funny when two llamas poked through the driver’s side and passenger’s side windows, nearly crossing their heads over the front seat.
You can drive around a second time if you’d like experience the safari again. There is a hut selling additional food for the animals if you run out after your first go-round.
After the Self-Drive Safari tour, we parked in the lot and entered through the gift shop for the Walking Experience tour. [Note: The Roer’s website still lists the walking zoo as closed, but it was open when Jamie and her family visited at the end of June.] The zoo has cheetahs, monkeys, porcupines and other mammals as well as snakes, turtles and lizards. There’s also a free-flight aviary where you can feed birds.
The highlight of the Walking Experience tour for my kids was feeding the goats with a baby bottle and feeding the giraffe. We also added on an up-close experience with three endangered lemurs and got to feed them apples inside their enclosed habitat. And we saw zookeepers taking warthogs for a walk, which was very fun to watch.
Roer’s is small so you won’t find the wide variety of animals that you will at a larger city zoo, but the coziness is part of the charm. Another benefit is that there is not a lot of walking or time to get bored because there is a new animal to pet or feed every time you turn around.
The Self-Drive Safari tour is an ideal social distancing activity since you remain in your car the entire time. There is only brief interaction with an attendant to turn your tickets over or pay. All staff wear masks.
If you choose to also visit the zoo, there will be other visitors, but we found it easy to stay six feet apart since crowds are controlled by the reservation system. Masks for the Walking Experience tour and the gift shop are encouraged but not required
All my kids had a great time. Even my older kids who were not so sure they would like a petting zoo asked if we could go back again soon!
Good to Know:
- There is one price for both tours—the Self-Drive Safari and the Walking Experience—even if you choose to only do one. Admission is $20.00 for adults and $12.00 for children.
- Reservations for the Self-Drive Safari tour are required in advance and can be made here. There may be a wait to enter the safari because the speed of the line is largely determined by the animals in the safari.
- Feed for the animals in the safari and the zoo, including bottles for the goats, is available at an additional cost. Each cup is $5, but they’re large and full, so one cup goes a long way. No outside food is allowed.
1228 Hunter Mill Road
Vienna, VA 22182
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