I loved watching the kids as they saw animals in person that they'd only read about. And I loved seeing the animals, too. So cool.
Seeing the snakes up close was fascinating and I could have looked at them for ages-- a little easier and less stressful to do with glass separating us. :)
I admit to having mixed feelings about zoos, too, especially when the animals are housed in less than ideal conditions. But then I think of the role zoos play in animal conservation, and I feel better. And then I see this and I gasp in awe and delight:
Seriously! Look at all of that space! I didn't feel bad about this at all. It was beautiful.
I could have stood there for hours. The funniest part was when this one giraffe just stood there looking at Big for a really long time and Big said, "That giraffe just keeps staring at me. It must be because I'm so good-looking." I'm sure that's it. Ha!
There were just so many neat things to see. We spent quite a while watching the dik-dik chew its cud. When it swallowed you could see this big lump travel down its skinny neck, and then, a moment later, the lump would travel back UP! Then it would chew for a minute and the process would repeat. Fascinating!
The horn on the rhinoceros was ginormous!
Remember all of that reading Big and I used to do on alligators and crocodiles? Well, needless to say, he was pretty darn excited to see these.
Edith and Big fell more than just a little bit in love with the magnificent lions that were there. I loved watching the two of them as they watched the lions. We even got to hear a little snarly roar out of the male lion when the female nipped at him in annoyance after he woke her up. Way cool.
We finally convinced a tired Edith to take a turn in the stroller. She was embarrassed, thinking she was way too old, but I think we were all glad she did. I mean, we were walking the zoo all day the day after a 4 mile hike, tag, and bowling. I think we ALL wanted to ride in the stroller.
As we were leaving, my family stopped in the zoo gift shop so the kids could get a souvenir of the trip with some money they received from Grandma and Grandpa Gorilla for Christmas. I had to forbid Big from purchasing a souvenir on the way to Arizona at the gas station convenience stores. They're full of so many treasures, I know, but I told him that the zoo was the only place he was allowed to spend his money. I think he's so glad he waited. I know I am. I got a really cool giraffe mug to remember my favorite exhibit by. What a fabulous time we all had at the zoo! We're already talking about when we can go back.
I think it ended up being a really good reunion activity, too. We got to interact a little, spread out a little...Ginger told me how much she loves the zoo (over and over again) and how it's the best reunion we've ever had...Big got a chance to tell some other people in the family all the stuff he knows about animals... perfect.
We were all pretty exhausted so we just chilled out that evening.