Ok, while it's true that we particularly enjoy going to zoos, this may be one of the best zoos anywhere! It being FREE is pretty impressive. We loved it two years ago and we loved it again!! They have some new areas open that are really beautifully done. We liked the little education/involvement areas they added throughout the new spaces.
It was also really fun how many baby animals they had! There were baby and "teenage" elephants, baby monkeys, baby penguins, baby sting rays and lots more! The baby elephant was my favorite, and watching the teenage elephant swimming.
This time we remembered to use the train to move around the zoo and it was really fun and workable that way. We would get off at a station, do all the habitats in that area, then get back on and go to the next area.
One recommendation is to get the Safari Pass. Although the zoo is free the train does cost $5 for one time to each station (whether or not you get on and off). If you instead get the Safari Pass for $10, it allows unlimited train rides, carousel rides ($3), petting the sting rays and sharks ($3), and several other things! We really liked being able to ride the train without "using up" each section, and I don't think we would have paid for the carousel or the sting rays without it.
Petting the sting rays was especially awesome! We haven't gone to Sea World where they may have something like this so I'd never tried it. It was a bit magical to have the sting rays swimming right up and under your hand on their own. They are very soft and velvety! Zack and I were both really into it. James tried it once and was done. Sammy would have liked to but kept getting scared. The bench that you lean on was too high for him and the moving animals were too startling. Still, he did touch one once!
We thought we would stay til about 2pm and then go back to let the boys nap but the kids were super and we ended up staying until after 7pm! It was an unusually mild day, not too sunny, and we just kept going. Good times!