November 15, 2019

A Natural Connection

Denver Zoo’s New Zofnass Barclay Family Nature Play Trail Invites Families to Experience the Outdoors


Close your eyes and think back to a happy memory of playing when you were a child. Chances are, that happiest of playful childhood memories was not in front of a computer or television. For many of us, our most memorable childhood experiences happened in nature, whether building a fort with friends, burying each other in the sand, building a snowman or jumping in leaves. Now Denver Zoo has a place for children and families to create those memories: the Zofnass Barclay Family Nature Play Trail.

Children have a wonderful instinct for playing in nature, but in an urban setting don’t always get as many opportunities to do so. Denver Zoo’s Learning Experiences team are nature play experts and passionate about supporting kids’ opportunities to connect with animals and nature. Playing in nature is good for kids, and good for nature. “Nature play” builds strong muscles and bones, lets kids practice social skills like negotiation, communication and problem solving, and is even good for emotional health and wellbeing. And, nature play encourages children and their families to value and protect the natural world. But don’t take our word for it.

At Denver Zoo, we like to turn to the experts for advice, and there might be no greater expert than Oliver. He’s 5 years old and full of awesome opinions, and he loves playing in nature almost as much as he loves animals: “I love to learn about animals and their bones. I like to see where they live…that way I know how to take care of them and what their favorite treats are to make them happy”.

When Oliver is playing in nature, he chooses his discoveries. Sometimes, he likes to build with sticks. Sometimes, he likes to explore under bushes. Other times, Oliver can be found carefully conquering what must feel like an enormous hurdle to a very small boy. When Oliver walks along a log, he’s building confidence, his sense of balance, his gross motor skills, and, most importantly, his love of nature. See the photos below!

We love to see Oliver, and he loves to see us. Oliver and his family have come to Denver Zoo’s many nature play offerings, when we join our community members in playing in the natural world. When children and families play outside, with leaves and sticks, puddles and rocks, when they roll in the grass, lift up a stone to peer underneath, stare up at the clouds or make mud pies, they are experiencing nature play!

We believe that when children spend time in nature, growing up celebrating all its offerings, they are even more empowered to become the next generation of conservation stewards, caring and protecting nature for many years to come. That’s why Denver Zoo is committed to creating opportunities for families to spend time together in nature. We’re committed to helping families connect with the natural world and the wonderful nature we have right in downtown Denver.

Now at the Zoo, families can explore and play in nature at the brand new Zofnass Barclay Family Nature Play Trail. Can’t make it to the Zoo? Look for one of our nature play pop-ups in City Park or a park near you. You just might find Oliver and his family joining us in the fun!

A very special thank you to the Zofnass Barclay Family for making this wonderful opportunity possible!


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