Recently my colleague Ryan and I were given a private tour of the Lehigh Valley Zoo by Alan Raisman, their Development & Marketing Coordinator. I had never been to this particular zoo, so I was excited to see what they had to offer visitors to Lehigh Valley. First of all, the drive up to the zoo is pretty cool. It already felt like an escape as we drove the car up and around the winding curves that led up to the picturesque Trexler Nature Preserve, an 1,100 acre wonderland within which the zoo is located.

Home to more than 275 animals representing some 70 species, the Lehigh Valley Zoo is an educational and entertaining escape from the everyday routine. One of my favorite parts was walking into the Lorikeet enclosure and letting them perch on my shoulder, mainly because it kind of made me feel like a pirate. I also enjoyed watching the three Mexican Gray Wolves prowl about their area, especially since there are only about 40 of them left in the world.

The zoo is a great trip for families, and the loop can be done in about an hour if you wish. On your way out, you’ll drive through the Trexler Nature Preserve, pass through a small creek (which was exciting for me, even at 25, but then again I am a kid at heart), and around the herds of bison and elk that roam the preserve. The zoo was even voted “Best Family Day Trip” by Morning Call’s Readers' Choice Awards in 2009 and 2010.

As entertaining and fun as it is to visit the animals at the zoo, it’s also quite comforting to know there’s a great deal of dedication to the protection and conservation of animal species. There are currently 14 animals housed in the zoo that are considered endangered, threatened or a species of concern.

So if you have some free time this summer, and you’re looking for a great family activity to keep everyone entertained, definitely check out the zoo!

Which animals are your favorites at the zoo?