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CALGARY SUN - Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Wild for family outings

By KYRA HOGGAN,

There was a time when work accessories like ties were a perfect gift for bread-winning dads, but in the new millennium families are looking for gifts that better reflect the father's evolving role.

Gus Sleiman, president of the Men's Educational Support Association (M.E.S.A.), says modern-day fathers are looking for more, both from themselves and from their relationship with their children.

"(Standard roles) have been changing for some time now," he says. "Fathers are more involved in the lives of their children, and Father's Day is a great time to bring fathers and children together."

Gifts like a Calaway Park pass, admission to the zoo, even a picnic lunch packed and ready to go for a father-child park excursion are perfect ways to give dad the gift of time.

"I'm sure they'd rather get time with their kids than just things," Sleiman says. "Every extra minute is the most valuable gift in the world."

Trish Exton-Parder of the Calgary Zoo says there are always activities on the go to interest any demographic or age range.

"It's a great family escape day, since it can be as relaxing or as adventurous as you want it to be," she says.

The zoo has been focusing on expanding and enhancing its adult programming to ensure the entire family will be engaged, with gardening programs, a river safari trip in July, safari sleepovers and behind-the-scenes animal visits.

"It has the advantage of being educational as well as fun," Exton-Parder says, adding that the elephants, bears and gorillas seem to have fun, too.

Prices range from $30 to $80 for special programs or admission passes start from $6 for kids and $12 for adults.

Copyright 2001, Sun Media Corporation / Netgraphe inc. All rights reserved.