05 March 2011

I (We) Love The Zoo

One of the things that you can do when you are uncorporated (and have memberships to local places) is randomly go on educational trips with your kids. As in, we find ourselves with a couple hours to kill and we decide to drive in to the Hands On Museum. Or the zoo.

This past week, Tiffany and I both had Wednesday off, and it was sunny and above freezing, so we packed up the kids and headed down to the Toledo Zoo. That's what everybody does in early March in Michigan/NW Ohio, right?

How to Zoo in Winter: lots of blankets in the wagon!
The place was dead - I think we saw maybe twenty other patrons while we were there. It was like having the place to ourselves (although I've never really felt crowded at Toledo Zoo). The flip side is that lots of the concessions/train/carousel weren't open, but that wasn't really the point of our quick visit there.

After visiting the polar bears, seals, wolves (sleeping), giraffes (indoors), and eagles, we headed across the bridge to the main part of the zoo. From the bridge, we had the best view of the lions that we've ever had - and the lions were up and about! Isaac and I stopped to take a peek through my binoculars.

I can't quite put my finger on it, but this so reminds me of my dad.
Next up is the duck and goose pond, right across from the aviary (which I never get to as often as I'd like!). The birds are much easier to see when the vegetation is down for the winter.

How freaky would this be without depth perception?

The new kids' section of the zoo opened last year, but I hadn't been yet. Nature's Neighborhood includes many activity stations, including an outdoor theater, climbing structure, a stream and beach area, and goat petting. We opted for the indoor portion, with a home-type setting, a forest, and education room. Esther particularly liked the turtle statue and the large-scale bird's egg.


The education room had an exhibit/activity about different types of bird beaks - macaw, heron, and pelican - and how easy or hard it was to pluck rubber worms out of the water with each. Water + kids = instant fun.

Isaac figured out quickly that the 'heron' (long tweezers) worked best
The indoor forest includes lots of interactive exhibits, with features on leafcutter ants, Really. Big. Spiders., and honeybees. What do you think Isaac went for first?

Between the house area and the forest is a secret passage - a hollow 'log' accessed through a sliding bookcase. Both the kids thought this was great fun.

At the end of the passage is a large bird enclosure with lots of psittacids (lories, cockatoos, etc.) and some other colorful, friendly birds. Esther enjoyed meeting a pair of White-crested Laughingthrushes, and they were certainly excited to meet her!

We will most certainly be back to check out the outdoor activities in Nature's Neighborhood, as well as revisit some of our other favorite places at the zoo, but I don't think we'll ever get so lucky as to have the place to ourselves again!

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