The Nature Explore Classroom at

Charlie’s Nature Play at Buttonwood Park Zoo

The Zoo and Zoological Society partnered with Charlie’s Children’s Charities to fund the project in honor of Charles E. Winterhalter of Dartmouth who passed away in 2008 at the age of 44. Charles “Charlie” Winterhalter was a local businessman and philanthropist who devoted much of his time to improving the lives of children on the Southcoast.

This special area is dedicated to reconnecting children and families to nature through meaningful unstructured play. Charlie’s Nature Play space is a rich environment that will stimulate a child’s natural curiosity and creativity through multi-sensory, hands-on activities. The areas featured in Charlie’s Nature Play are: SPLASH, CREATE, BUILD, INVENT, PLAY, CLIMB, DIG, IMAGINE AND GROW.


The new kids play area is awesome! My little one did not want to leave…great addition.
We were there yesterday and the kids LOVED it!!!
We went there today and had a great time! Thank you so much for building this.
This is the first play area I have been able to relax with my child who is on the autism spectrum. He was engaged, cooperatively playing with other children, and I did not need to worry about him running away.


425 Hawthorn Street
New Bedford, MA 02740