Buttonwood Park and Zoo, New Bedford

Well what do you know? I’m back in New Bedford, Ma.! When I decided to stop at the zoo today I didn’t even think about its location in New Bedford. I was going to Dartmouth to meet up with a friend and just thought I’d do some exploring before we met up. Since I put zoos on my list for the summer I headed to Buttonwood to get started on my zoo list.

Buttonwood Zoo is easy to get to. You hop on Route 140 and just head south. At the end of RT 140 it becomes Brownell Ave. Brownell Ave will take you past Buttonwood Park, a lovely little park with a lake and fountain. There are benches and a path and loads of ducks and geese. In early spring it’s a great place to see baby birds, goslings and ducklings but today it looked like the babies were well on their way to adulthood.

At the intersection of Brownell and Hawthorn St you will want to take a left and you’ll see the Zoo on your left.

I was lucky enough to find a parking spot under a tree so I could leave the car in a little shade. The lot was quite full so I suspected the zoo was busy. That’s not surprising as it is an almost perfect day. The sun is out, there’s a breeze , the temps are probably around 80 and as they say in Arizona…”It’s a dry heat”. It’s not too often we can say that here.  Massachusetts gets lots of hot, humid days but this one wasn’t..it was really pleasant.

As I walked  toward the entrance I spotted the Animal Carousel in full spin. That wasn’t there on my last visit. I really love carousels. 

As I was buying my ticket (only $6.00 for adults) I started chatting with the clerk. Turns out the policy for seniors is age 60. Wow I qualify! So I only had to pay $4.50 to get in. I’m lovin’ it.

The gift shop was packed and noisy so I skipped that and headed into the zoo proper.

The first thing you see is an adorable carved bear statue. I love the face! 🙂

Right behind it is a large open habitat that contains, ducks, geese, turkeys, deer and buffalo. This is where I got the “photo of the day” of a beautiful buck, antlers in velvet, taking a snooze in the shade.

I moved on down the path to my right to the carousel. It was busy but not packed.

 I stood for a while watching and taking pictures. I remember when I was little I only wanted to ride the horses on the carousel. There didn’t seem to be any preference today. The kids were on the lions and hummingbirds, giraffes and seals as well as the horses.

Time to move on down the path. Flowers were blooming everywhere. The zoo considers the flowers part of their exhibits so  picking is not allowed. That’s ok with me. I just wanted pictures anyway. Pictures last longer.

There are wonderful statues throughout the zoo.  Besides the cute bear at the entrance  there a bronze bear statue along the first path leading to the black bear exhibit. There’s also a bronze sow  at the Buttonwood Farm, a double sculpture of 2 elephants at the elephant exhibit.

 2 Cranes grace a patch of grass and reeds near the Aquatic Center.

I explored the Bald Eagle enclosure, visited the Coyote and snuck a peek at a sleeping cougar. The Lynx was hiding and I didn’t see it or the River otters but the seals were getting check-ups where all could watch.

Everyone was friendly. There was interaction among the guests at every display as we searched out the animals.

The little train around the zoo seemed to be doing a brisk business as it was running regularly.

 I met it again as I crossed the covered bridge to the Buttonwood Farm. Horses, ponies, goats, cows, pigs and chickens…lots of domestic animals.

By now it was about 12:30, lunch time so I headed to the “Bear’s Den Cafe”. $7.00 got me a  (square) fish filet sandwich and small fires and a 16 oz drink. Not bad. Grabbing a seat at a table outside I could watch the deer and buffalo as I tried to keep my fries from the birds and squirrels. Actually it was fun sharing with the little critters.

After lunch I started to head out when I heard some music that I hadn’t picked up on before. Following the sound led me back to the elephant’s enclosure.

Across from the enclosure is a large field and there were some performers entertaining a crowd of children. It was the Toe Jam Puppet band. The show was filled with just plain silliness and the kids loved it. From following one of the performers around while he carried a bubble machine to playing “lindy” where the Lindy bar was always held high there were shrieks and giggles galore. My favorite skit was when they told a story with lots of silly characters.

For each character someone was chosen from the audience..all small children except one! There was a “bear”, a “Spider”, a “Worker Bee with honey, a butterfly and I think a worm..oh I’m sure I’ve forgotten some but each character was dressed in a costume and had to clap or jump or some such thing when their part in the story came up. Cute isn’t giving enough credit. Lots of fun.

 The Toe Jam Puppet band is at the Zoo on Mondays only so I was lucky to have run across them! It was good  clean fun for all! Especially with the help of the “bubble machine”.

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Now it was really time to start moving on to my second stop. It’s only 6 miles away but I will have crossed a town line and arrived in North Dartmouth.

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