Friday, December 23, 2011

The Zoo!

Clara and Elena went to the zoo with us once, when we were in Oregon and they were babies.  We were looking for something to do to keep us all occupied for a stretch of time, and they mostly slept in a stroller while we walked around.  We had passes to the Phoenix Zoo, and the girls were very excited about heading out.

One of the very fun things about the day as how much they loved the map of the zoo.  Clara liked pretending she was Dora, consulting the map and rolling it up to stick in her "backpack" (sweatshirt hood).  But soon both girls got very good at navigating with it.  The animals are illustrated as well as written in, so they could tell where we were and how to get where we wanted to go.
Our first stop was the giraffes.  When we got there it was about to be feeding time, and the ticket-taker told us the most worthwhile add-on to the zoo experience was feeding the giraffes.  We decided to go for it, taking the perfect timing as a sign.
It was SO much fun!  There is a big platform built up, and the zookeepers ring a bell and the giraffes, knowing snacks are in order, come gracefully strolling over.  They so gently use their L-O-N-G tongues and take the lettuce and pellets right out of your hand.

They are really such beautiful animals.  We thought so before, but it seems even more noticeable now that we've been up close and personal with them.

For Christina and Steve this was the high point of the zoo (though the rest was really fun, too).
We liked how the animals got to live together in habitats - in with the giraffes were some ostriches and gazelles.

NOT in with them, but nearby, was a tiger.  Here Elena is coaching Clara on how to call the tiger over, which she repeatedly tried with a series of growls, to no avail.  Both girls did say: "Pooh pooh!" (not in a potty-talk way, but in the Madeline way: "And to the tiger at the zoo, Madline just said Pooh pooh!").

The rhino had absolutely zero interest in us, but it was fun to watch him eating his hay, apparently happily.

The zoo high-point for Clara and Elena was seeing the camels, and getting to ride one!  (Christina was a little less thrilled about this - it's more fun to pay to give animals a treat than to make them work - but in fairness this camel didn't seem distressed, there were several to rotate through this chore, and everyone seemed very respectful to the camel).

Lunch time was a hit, what with the fact that it included hot dogs AND cheetos AND a rice krispie treat AND their own screw-cap bottles of milk.  Little girls in heaven:
We visited for quite a while with the orangutans - they are incredible creatures, and seemed very interactive.  One came over near the window to Clara and Elena, pulled up a mat, laid down, and stared at them.  We also had fun posing with the orangutan statue.
Elena's shot!
We stopped in to see the elephant, and the girls were convinced it was Kayla (from the second Curious George movie).  It was across the habitat when we first got there.
But then it came right up to the edge to see us, and to stick out its trunk!
We were at the zoo for four hours, and our girls were pretty much the only ones their age there not in a stroller.  They walked their little legs off (without complaint) and so when they asked for cotton candy as we were heading to the exit it was a treat to us to get to say yes to them.

It was a wonderful adventure - it's so nice to do things together now without having to worry about diapers, special foods, frequent meltdowns, etc.  They stayed in great spirits, and sang Christmas carols as we drove home.

Life won't always be this easy-going, but we're very, VERY grateful for this period of time where it so often is!

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