Yesterday we were headed over to western Iowa to celebrate the 90th birthday of Derek's grandmother. We decided that since we were already making the drive, we'd introduce the family to the Omaha zoo. None of us had ever been there, and everyone raves about it, so it was time.
When we left home, the outside temp was still below zero, but Omaha's forecast promised to reach TWENTY WHOLE DEGREES above zero. It was glorious.
Knowing that this was the expected weather for the day, I'd asked around as to whether or not a winter trip to this zoo was worthwhile; although we are hardy Iowans, both Derek and I start to chafe at dragging frozen younglings around for more than an hour. I was assured that there are plenty of indoor areas for exploration. There were. More glory.
That place is vast. I'm sometimes bothered when visiting zoos, as I hate to see big animals cooped up and pacing back in forth in small pens. We did see a bit of this- I mean, it is a zoo- but each holding area for the animals was quite large, and the employees we spoke with repeatedly mentioned "enrichment;" that ball is for enrichment, that fabric is for enrichment, the scents they spray on those poles are for enrichment. So the animals aren't just shuffling around listlessly in tight circles.
Those same employees also encouraged questions be asked of them, which our kids never ever ever have a problem with. They were grilling the young lady in the "elephant family quarters" when one of our children asked where the elephants came from. She pointed to two and said they were from Africa. The third one there at the time was from the wilds of Toledo. Someone asked how they got the elephants from Africa, and she replied, "Well, we made a deal with them: there was a drought there, so we sent water and food, and in return we got two elephants."
Caedmon waited a beat and then asked in a bewildered voice, "How do you make a deal with elephants?"
We all learned a lot, is what I am saying.
We did other things there, too, like visit the aquarium and the jungle and the desert dome, but please don't worry, there is no tedious play-by-play imminent here. I'll just say that Derek had fun scaring everyone in the desert dome, Adelaide is afraid of bats, Atticus is afraid of the American alligator's mating call, and those gators are huge, especially when you're viewing them in a man-made swamp meant to echo the bayou and those gators are in open water on the other side of a net. I'm sure it was all very safe, but the effect was eerie. Well done, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium (OHDZA, for short, as I'm sure exactly no one calls it).
Also I now do my best to always stand uphill from Adelaide in photos with the kids. Why do these children insist on getting taller?
|The desert dome, where we all felt properly warm for the first time in months.|