Roer’s Zoofari is a favorite destination for Northern Virginians, especially those with young children. Formerly known as Reston Zoo, it is located in the residential area of Vienna, Virginia just 20 miles outside of Washington, DC. There is plenty to enjoy in this neighborhood zoo, including a safari ride through a field where you can feed some of the animals from an open bus.
As a neighborhood zoo, it’s a popular location for field trips from local schools and preschools, and it also offers birthday parties and private tours. The gift shop has a few snacks and cold treats but they do not have food vendors. You can bring in your own food, but only for yourself – not the animals. Animal feed is available for purchase at the ticket booth.
The zoo features a wide variety of traditional zoo and farm animals, from small spiders to tall giraffes. Since it is relatively small in size, you can finish walking through the entire zoo in two hours to half a day, depending on how many activities you select. The grounds are easy to walk, the paths are easy to follow, and the enclosures make the animals easily visible. But note that much of the grounds are in the open sun so it’s good idea to wear sun protection.
Here are some of the popular features:
There’s a large barn and pens where you can feed and pet farm animals.
A little reptile house.
A large pond and surrounding park where ducks and geese gather.
There are opportunities to feed giraffes and other animals.
Cages and enclosures throughout the grounds that hold a variety of animals, like macaws, vultures, lemurs, rabbits, tortoises, giraffe, porcupines, and condors.
The budgie house is another favorite. Children squeal with delight as the budgies land on their arms, hands, heads or shirts to eat the seeds on purchased budgie sticks. In our experience, the birdies are eat voraciously early in the day but lose interest by late morning.
One of the most popular activities is the safari ride where you hop on a bus and take a tour through the open grounds. The bus stops several times to allow visitors to feed the animals. Deer, emus and llamas poke their heads into the window and messily gobble food from visitor’s buckets. Hold on tight or they’ll snatch the bucket right out your hands! Kids and adults are mixed with fear and curiosity as they get an up-close and personal encounter with these large, gentle animals. You’ll also see zebra, bison, watsui, addax, cows, camels and more along the ride. Check the schedule when you arrive so you can plan your day accordingly.
The zoo has gone through many transitions over the years. Change of ownership, activities, animals, enclosures, and even change in the entrance ensure that no two years’ visits are exactly alike. But through it all we still enjoy going for an easy outing with lots of smiles.
Here’s my quick video from our visits over the years.