Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Things to do with Kids: Feed Giraffes

So we headed off to this zoo that we discovered about four months ago. My little girl loves the place. It is considerably different from the zoo we normally took her to. For one, it is further away and we end up making a day of it and grabbing a hotel room. It's close to the falls so it's near a fun touristy area. Is there such a word as touristy?

Anyway, what makes this zoo different is the intimacy you get with the animals. Simply put, you can get much closer to them than you can with other kinds of zoos. At most facilities, there are pavilions. You walk inside, there carefully crafted exhibits and the animals frolic or lie around far away from you. At this zoo it is several different cage and enclosures that are designed in such an ingenious way so that you can get up close to the friendly animals (well so far they've been friendly) and you can get a good close up view of the typically more dangerous one. That would be your lions and tiger and bears etc.

So we're walking around this place and it's one of the last times we'll be able to go this season because it starts getting cold, and we hear this roar. It is this low guttural kind of roar and my wife says it must be the lions. The sound is so amazing that it almost sounds like a movie. We head over to the lions' enclosure and sure enough, that's what it was. Of course, he stopped as soon as we got there so we didn't actually get to see him do it. My little girl wanted to see him roar and started asking him to do it. He did not oblige.

What I thought was kind of funny about the situation is that all around the lion enclosure are cages that housed a variety of exotic birds. You could get up real close to them and some of them even talked. My little girl loved those. We checked a map that we picked up when we came in and realized there was a giraffe "show" about to start so we headed over that way. Shortly after hitting the path to get to the giraffes, the lion roared again. He's just messing with us I figured.

We get to the giraffes and my little girl was hooked. She was amazed by their size and how friendly they were. You could stand outside their fence but they would dip their heads over and you could feed them leaves off a branch. My kid couldn't start collecting leaves fast enough. The show was mostly a person talking about the two giraffes they had and the things they liked to do and eat. Near the end she took all the kids, including mine, up three stories of steps where they got to feed the giraffes off a wooden balcony. She had a blast.

Needless to say, I have spent the past couple of days explaining to my daughter why the backyard isn't big enough for a giraffe and if you took him to school for show and tell, he might just try to make a run for it. We'll be going back to see them next spring.

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