Pixel Tracker

Sunday, February 17 , 2019, 11:27 pm | Fair 47º


Santa Barbara Zoo’s Children’s Garden to Open Saturday

The area is designed for children to play and interact with nature

The Santa Barbara Zoo’s new Kallman Family Children’s Garden, opening this Saturday, was designed especially for children to play and interact with nature.

Santa Barbara Zoo volunteer Amy Prior designed the new Kallman Family Children's Garden.
Santa Barbara Zoo volunteer Amy Prior designed the new Kallman Family Children’s Garden. (Katie Clemons photo)

The whimsical garden includes a maze, boulders for climbing, winding dry stream bed, quaint footbridge and stepping stumps, animal topiary and statues, picnic areas and more — all set in a garden of fragrant and vibrant blooming plants.

Several featured plants have animal-themed names, including coyote mint, golden monkey grass, hummingbird sage, deer fern, kangaroo paw and sticky monkey flower. Many native plants are featured, as is a rainbow array of flowers.

“Connecting children, in particular, to nature is absolutely critical for the future of our planet,” zoo CEO Rich Block said. “The experiences that children have today will help guide their decisions tomorrow as the next generation of environmental decision-makers.”

The garden’s debut completes the Kallman Family Children’s Play Area, which opened in March 2008. One of the zoo’s most popular areas, it includes a giant Ant Hill, oversized dinosaur eggs, a large spider web and other nature-inspired features. The Play Area is conceived as a “naturalized playground” — part of a national trend to give children a safe, outdoor environment to play, explore and discover nature. Rather than being “built,” naturalized playgrounds are “planted” using the landscape, vegetation and other materials.

The garden was designed by zoo volunteer Amy Prior, garden designer and mother of two young children. “Owen’s Maze” is named for her son. The Kallman family, longtime zoo donors, are lead donors for the Children’s Garden and for the Play Area.

“My goal is to create a garden where young imaginations run wild, and age-appropriate educational opportunities abound,” Pryor said. “After visiting the garden, I hope children carry away with them a curiosity of nature that continues to bloom.”

According to “A Report on the Movement to Reconnect Children to the Natural World” by the Children & Nature Network in 2008, adults who consider themselves conservationists or “environmentally aware” almost always had a transcendent experience in nature as children.

It notes that children today are drifting further away from nature — spending less time outdoors and more time in front of the television or computer. While technological advances can help them understand nature in new and exciting ways, the report suggests that advances should compliment, not replace, real experiences in and with nature.

Construction and planting of the zoo’s new garden was performed by the Santa Barbara Zoo’s professional in-house Facilities and Horticulture Department, in conjunction with community volunteers including the ladies of the Garden Club of Santa Barbara under Pryor’s direction.

Though the garden has been planted, there are still ways for the public to help it to thrive through the “Plant a Seed” campaign and naming opportunities. For more information, call 805.962.5339.

— Julia McHugh is a publicist.

Talk to Us!

Please take Noozhawk's audience survey to help us understand what you expect — and want — from us. It'll take you just a few minutes. Thank you!

Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.