RI zoo exhibit connects kids to nature with play

By Michelle R. Smith

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, July 8 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

In this July 2, 2012 photo, visitors check out the new "Big Back Yard" attraction at the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, R.I. The zoo is one of the largest in New England and is the state's top outdoor tourist attraction.

Stephan Savoia, Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A new exhibit at Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence focuses on play instead of animals.

Hasbro's Our Big Backyard and the CVS Caremark All Kids Can Treehouse opened last month as part of a $5.5 million project to incorporate more playing into the zoo experience. The goal is to use play to help children build a relationship with the nature they can find in their own backyards. Zoo officials hope that's a step toward creating lifelong conservationists.

The exhibit includes play zones that allow kids to build forts, play musical instruments or splash in water. Many children come wearing swimsuits. A large treehouse features a scavenger hunt and other interactive exhibits.

Zoo officials say the exhibit has been jam-packed since it opened.

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