The West Virginia Zoo at Hovatter's Wildlife Zoo is a zoo unlike any other you've experienced.
It's not a large-scale zoo. You won't find paved walkways, giant fold-out maps, sidewalk vendors or commercial gift shops. You'll also happily note the absence of large crowds and long lines, and welcome the addition of front-row parking and hassle-free ticket purchasing.
It's more of a backyard affair, with animals in enclosures in a wooded area. As you walk the small gravel path, you'll find over 30 different species of animals lounging in the shade of the forest. The staff is friendly and helpful, and since they aren't dealing with massive crowds they have plenty of time to spend one-on-one time answering questions and telling you about the animals.
Another big difference between this zoo and the others is the way you can interact with animals. You're able to get up-close to most of the species on display, and almost all of them can be fed by guests if you're there around feeding time.
If there are any animal babies while you're there, don't be surprised if you see them out of their enclosures -- it's not uncommon for the staff to bring out the babies for you to pet (and sometimes hold!). This makes for great photo opportunities, so be sure to bring your camera.
The West Virginia Zoo at Hovatter's Wildlife Zoo may be a small-scale zoo, but that doesn't mean they only have small animals. Expect to see lions, tigers, bears and more, including leopards, baboons and chimps. The zoo even has camels, and they are sometimes available for rides -- what kid wouldn't love that!
Plan on stopping by this zoo at least once a year. The exhibits change frequently, so if you come less often than that, you're probably going to miss something good.
Address: Route 1, Box 265-D, Kingwood, West Virginia, 26537
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