After returning from our short camping trip, my aunt was polling the boys on what they’d like to do with the remaining portion of the week they were all in town.
“There’s the museum…” … and no response.
“Or a park somewhere…” … nothing.
“The zoo’s an option…” … Oh! Me! Me! I want to go!
But it was the boys’ decision, so I stayed quiet. Luckily, my nephew made the comment of never having been to a zoo, which is all the opening my aunt needed for an answer. Phew. I didn’t have to intervene!
So Wednesday, we made our way to the Riverbanks Zoo. If you’ve been following my blog since my trip across America, you’ll know I love zoos. I stopped at zoos in Naples, Memphis, Salt Lake City, St. Louis, and Washington DC along the way. If I was having a bad day or just had a bad experience, I would try and scout out the nearest place with a zoo to rectify the situation. So sure, this time, I’d have to help play “adult” and keep the three boys in line… but let’s be honest here… I was just as much, if not more, a kid on this trip than they were.
Gorillas were first on the list since there was a demonstration being given when we got to the zoo. There are only two males there now. It seems like every time I go to the zoo, there’s a different set of them.
From there, we walked back to the kangaroo exhibit. This is the first time I’ve been since it’s opened. I’m a little surprised at how fast they were able to construct it. There used to be a huge pool for sea lions to swim in. But given it’s age, the two sea lions left were sent to a zoo in Chicago and the whole exhibit was torn down. In its place, they’ve created a walk-through kangaroo exhibit. They’re pretty small now (they’re only two years old) but the volunteer said they’d eventually get to be six feet tall around the age of 10. There were wallabies (2nd picture) as well.
Next was the African side of the zoo. There were meerkats…
… and giraffes! And because my aunt went all out to get the crazy “do everything” passes, we all had wristbands to feed them.
There were two baby calves too. One of them was up at the platform to eat but it wasn’t tall enough to reach the same level the adult was at. So he was flinging his tongue through the slats near everyone’s ankle. He was also learning how to pick the scraps off of the ground where people would drop pieces of lettuce. The other one just wanted to be friends with a vulture.
Reptiles and the aquarium were next. Nothing new here. Just the same ol’ huge snakes, crocodiles, and fish. And here’s the obligatory picture bound to freak out most girls and make you squirm.
Also falling under the “do everything” passes includes the rock wall, a favorite among teenage boys. And since I’m the uncle/cousin closest in age to the boys, I was volunteered to do it with them. I don’t think I’ve ever done one before since first, I’m not a huge fan of heights and second, I’m not normally known to be an “upper body strength” person. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a bunch of 12-15 year olds show me up. And I’ve been doing P90X!
It wasn’t bad. And a lot easier to get up than I had anticipated. But one thing I’ll never be fully comfortable with is getting down. You’re supposed to grab the rope and just blindly kick off the side and enjoy the ride down. Pushing away from a vertical wall 20 or 30 feet off the ground with nothing to hold on to is not a normal human reaction. But I made it!
Then the dude working the station decided to be smart and ask if we wanted to race up. Everyone chickened out but my cousin’s friend. So I figured I’d join in on the fun. And I ended up being beat by one grip!
Making our way back, we passed the tiger exhibit. I love watching them but he/she came out for one lap of his space then went back into the shade to hide from the heat. So no pictures this time around. There was a baby baboon though! It was obsessed with a metal disk hanging in the exhibit. So in between rounds of its mom or dad trying to show it what to do, he’d hop up and hang from the disk to play.
From there, we worked our way back to the bird house since my nephew wanted to watch the penguin feeding. I had always enjoyed the old bird house at the zoo better – it was round, almost completely wide open to the exhibits on the inside, and they had a thunderstorm simulation in the dark that rained down on the birds. The new one has more interactive learning centers scattered throughout but it’s always felt smaller. And the penguins were in the middle of the old one. They just have a wall here. But my nephew was more than enamored with them.
I think I know what his favorite animal is now.
After a quick round through the gift shop and my aunt wrangling up the boys for “make it look like you’re having fun” pictures, we headed out. Even though it should be understood at this point, zoos always make for a good day!
When’s the last time you’ve been to your local zoo?