We went to the zoo this weekend. One of Olive's friends from school celebrated her third birthday there, and we used the party as an excuse to enjoy a day with some new animal friends.
Before the party, we fed the giraffes. (So, the three pieces of lettuce were a little pricey, but Olive's face when the giraffe wrapped its long grey tongue around the piece of lettuce she bravely offered was worth every penny!)
We also saw elephants, zebras, lots of monkeys (BIG monkeys, and little teeny tiny monkeys ... which isn't nearly as cute without Olive's hand motions and vocal inflections), sea lions, and a very cool owl.
Zoos (almost every zoo we have visited or heard about recently) are doing a great job of making the animals and the exhibits more REAL for visitors. I'm so happy about that change. My zoo memories growing up are largely of very sad monkeys in concrete cages. Our recent zoo experiences leave VERY different impressions with me.
My favorite part, I think, was stumbling upon a presentation at the lion enclosure. As we walked up (to see what the crowd was all about), a zookeeper pulled down a large (10ft by 10ft?) sign/panel to reveal a (very thick) chain link wall and three lady lions peering through the links at the crowd. The primary zookeeper gave a brief presentation.
She told us all about lions, and the history of these lions (and the male lion sunning himself a few yards away) in particular. Her stories were terrific--fascinating, sometimes sad, but really appealing for the kids and adults gathered around.
During the presentation, two other zookeepers used squirt bottles filled with a mixture of goats' milk and other healthy things to encourage the lady lions to perform. It really was amazing. We were 10 feet (ish?) from these lovely creatures. Olive was enthralled, and Kyle and I were pretty impressed too.
We also had a great time at the party, chatting with friends and getting to know new ones. Before too long, it was time to get Olive home for a nap.
All in all, it was a very cool day at the zoo.
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