Isaiah loves the zoo. He got that from his Mama (who got it from her Mama…)! We’re all animal people. It’s always a ton of fun to spend a little time hanging out at the zoo. We picked my grandmother up on the way into town and met my aunt, uncle and two youngest cousins at the zoo. Luke and Azalea were thrilled to see Isaiah! They don’t get to spend nearly enough time together, living two hours away from each other.
It was windy and pretty cool when we got to the zoo, so we opted to stay in buildings, rather than visiting outdoor animals. First, we headed for the aquarium. This is a huge favorite among all of us. When you walk in, the first animals you see are the puffins. Isaiah loves to watch them floating on the water and they tend to act pretty silly and show off for their audience.
After the puffins are Isaiah’s absolute favorite–the penguins! I don’t think I’ve ever been to the zoo when there weren’t at least a few penguins swimming and playing. There’s a rail a few feet from the glass and a sign labeling the area between the rail and glass the “kids zone” so that kids can get up close without getting stepped on by adults. Isaiah and his cousins ducked under the rail immediately so they could watch the penguins. They had so much fun watching the penguins shoot up to the glass and do crazy tricks for them. They stayed there for a while, then moved on to the “bubble” at the end of the penguin area. The “bubble” is a glass half-sphere that’s mostly under the water so kids can be surrounded by the penguins. All the kids crawled in and Luke, being the oldest, was quick to explain about how it worked to the younger two, while pointing out the penguins swimming over and around them.
On to the next! I like the next section of the aquarium because it has a section of “beach” with water that acts as a tide. There’s some coral and brightly colored fish in the tank. Isaiah really liked the fish and ran up and down the length of the glass watching them. The older kids seemed to really enjoy waiting for the water to rush in, making fresh waves.
The main attraction of our zoo’s aquarium is the “shark tunnel.” At the time it was built, it was the longest in the world. Today it was pretty crowded and noisy because the local schools were out and people were enjoying their free day at the zoo. The kids didn’t mind the noise, though! They loved watching the sharks swim over their heads. The rays in the tunnel are lots of fun to watch. They discovered soon after the tunnel was built that they could swim to the top, then slide down the side of the tunnel, down to the sand at the bottom. They’ll do this literally for hours, while visitors watch and laugh. Isaiah thought it was pretty funny to watch, too. I think he’d happily join them if he could!
There’s a big sea turtle in the tunnel, too. He hasn’t been there very long. He was a wild turtle, but was severely injured and rescued. He has a little black box glued to the back end of his shell because when he was injured, it damaged his shell somehow, making it so he can’t stay underwater. The box is a weight that helps him stay submerged. While we were there, he was happily resting at the bottom of the tank, watching people walk through. Isaiah was thrilled when the turtle decided to start swimming. He thought the turtle was dancing and decided to join in!
When we finished in the aquarium, we headed to the Pavilion, where there are lots of kid-friendly exhibits. Isaiah followed Luke around, observing all the animals as they went. Luke was happy to explain to Isaiah what each animal was, as well as pointing out hard-to-find animals.
There’s a jeep in one part of the Pavilion for kids to climb on. I helped Isaiah get up in it with Luke and Azalea and he immediately grabbed the steering wheel and started driving. Luke crawled onto the floor and started “controlling the pedals” as he called it, from there. They had a ton of fun!
All too soon, it was time to head out. I think they would have happily played and explored the zoo together all day if we’d had time. They’ll likely spend a large portion of their summer visits at the zoo. It’s a great place to hang out and for fun family picnics!