Have you tried escaping New Bedford's Buttonwood Park Zoo at its new Deja Zoo Escape Experience? It has been giving families and friends the chance to solve puzzles, decode clues and conquer challenges since last fall, and it could be growing this winter.

Things are changing again at Buttonwood Park Zoo, like the requirement for zoo guests to once again wear their masks while checking out the indoor animals. That doesn’t mean any of the family fun is leaving the zoo. In fact, its Deja Zoo Escape Experience is the perfect activity for groups trying to limit their contact with others while having a good time.

Fun 107 first told you about Deja Zoo last September and recently we spoke with the zoo’s Curator of Education, Carrie Hawthorne, who told us that they started it as a way for Buttonwood "to continue to do programming with smaller groups." It is still a perfect way to get your "pod" out of the house and doing something different.

With Deja Zoo being completely outside, it means the season is going to start to wind down as daylight savings time and colder weather approaches. So, if you want to check it out this season, book your private session soon; if you’ve already been, there is good news for next spring and summer.

Hawthorne told us that this project "took quite a bit to build" and is something that will "never go away," adding that the plan right now is to use the off-season to grow the escape experience and have fresh clues and puzzles for groups that want to do it again next year. Excellent news for all the groups that have already enjoyed this unique zoo night out.

Courtesy of Carrie Hawthorne at Buttonwood Park Zoo
Courtesy of Carrie Hawthorne Buttonwood Park Zoo

It is an event for all ages, though Hawthorne says "some puzzles are harder than others" and "having an adult to steer [younger participants] in the right direction" definitely helps. It could make a great birthday party option, scout group activity, or family fun night out as rising COVID cases cause people to return to smaller group plans.

There is still time to book Deja Zoo for your group this year. They offer the private bookings any night of the week for groups with a maximum of 10 people. All Deja Zoo Escape Experiences start with an animal encounter around 5:30 p.m. as the group gets together, followed by about 90 minutes of solving the clues. Just make sure you check the zoo’s website to be up-to-date on any safety protocol changes.

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