On a warm afternoon, patrons of the Stone Zoo in Stoneham can find Paddy the white-cheeked gibbon, along with his dad, Kien, swinging from tree to tree inside one of the site’s most popular exhibits.
But on Sunday you don’t have to be a playful primate to enjoy a day at the park with Pop. In celebration of Father’s Day, the Stone Zoo is offering free admission for fathers.
“More and more fathers have taken a much stronger role in child care and being with the kids,” said John Linehan, president and CEO of Zoo New England, the organization that operates the zoo. “I think this presents a great opportunity for families to spend time together, especially for those tight on budgets.”
About a 15-minute ride north of Boston up Interstate 93, the zoo offers a fun family day-trip year-round. On Sunday, in addition to free admission for Dad, visitors can enjoy one of the zoo’s latest displays: the new American alligator exhibit.
Located within the Alfred Huang North American Crane Exhibit, the new setting features three adult alligators ranging in size from 5 to 7 feet long.
“People have been very excited about our new alligators,” Linehan said.
According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, American alligators were declared endangered in 1967. As a result of legislation that prohibited alligator hunting, combined with collaborative state and federal monitoring programs, the Fish and Wildlife Service pronounced the species fully recovered in 1987.
“Exhibits like this are really important because they show that species recovery is possible when people come together with good coordination and set their mind to it,” Linehan said.
On July 12 and Aug. 9, visitors can get to know the alligators on a more personal level during the Zoo’s Breakfast with the Alligators event. Attendees will receive early entry into the zoo and a continental breakfast. A staff member will be available to answer questions and talk about the animals. Cost is $10 per person for members, $12 for nonmembers, children under 2 free. To register, go to www.zoonewengland.org/wildadventures.
For the over-21 crowd, the zoo will host A Wild Affair on June 21, featuring a taste of various Greater Boston food and drink vendors, live entertainment, a silent auction, and an opportunity to stroll among the animals. Proceeds from the night will support the operation and continued growth of the Stone Zoo, its education programs, and conservation initiatives. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $50, or $60 the day of the event at www.zoonewengland.org/awildaffair.
Regardless of age, those arriving from 10 a.m. to noon on the first Saturday of every month will be charged the children’s admission price of $8.95. On other days, admission is $12.95 for adults and $10.95 for seniors over 62; children under 2 are free.
“I’m excited because after a long, tough winter, people are really turning out in big numbers,” Linehan said. “There’s no place like the zoo to bring a family together, enjoy learning together, and to create lifelong memories.”