Kids love farm animals, zoo animals and family pets


Kids and animals – it’s a natural fit.   Animals can communicate with children in a way that does not need language.   They are totally accepting.  They never get angry and they never hold a grudge.  An animal can be a friend to a child like none other.


Animals for Kids


Most kids don’t get enough time with animals.  Luckily, there are many opportunities for kids in the Inland Empire to get up close and personal with a wide variety of animals.


Learning to relate to animals helps kids to get along better with other children and with the adults in their lives.  It gives them a chance to learn kindness, leadership and empathy.  Animals need to be taken care of, and learning to care for them is empowering for a child.  They feel satisfaction that a job needed to be done and they did it.   It can boost a child’s self esteem more easily than anything else.


Learning about the needs and personalities of different animals is great for kids.   Whether it’s a ladybug on a leaf or a horse that needs exercise, children learn about each animal they encounter and find a way to relate to that animal.


Not everyone is able to have a dog or a cat in their home, but in the Inland Empire, there are plenty of opportunities to get out and experience a wide variety of animals.  It just takes a little effort to find out where these animals are and how you can give your kid the chance to interact with them.


The Inland Empire has a lot of open spaces and there are farms not to far from Riverside, San Bernadino, Corona and Redlands. Horseback Riding classes, lessons and camps are available in all these areas. In nearby San Diego, there is one of the best zoos in the country, and it is certainly worth the drive.    There are smaller petting zoos, attractions that offer pony rides, animal farms and other areas that are open to the public where kids and animals can meet.


Horseback Riding and Pony Rides


Horseback riding is very popular among kids. The smallest children love to ride ponies. As kids get older, they can learn to give direction to horses. Horses need a lot of care too, and most horseback riding programs include feeding, grooming and taking care of tack as a part of the program. Some horseback riding summer camps include other activities, like arts and crafts, while some focus exclusively on horses and other farm animals.

Whatever activity you choose, if it involves animals, your child will have fun and learn a lot.


Farm Animals and Petting Zoos


Local petting zoos have farm animals that your kids can touch and hold, like rabbits, goats, chickens, sheep and pigs. Many of them offer pony rides, which are often less scary for little kids than riding a large horse.  In the fall, there are pumpkin farms in Corona, Cherry Valley and Temecula that have petting zoos for the children.  There are 4 H clubs in the Riverside area that give kids an opportunity to take responsibility for animals as they enjoy their company.  If you’re planning a birthday party or other group event, there are mobile petting zoo that will bring the animals to you!


Zoo Animals and Exotic Animals


Exotic animals don’t have to be dangerous, just unusual. Reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, large birds and even mammals that we don’t usually see in a pet store qualify as exotic to kids.




Last Updated - June 2012