How We Are Zoo Suckers

This last Saturday, we made plans to meet up with Nana and Papa at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma.  Now, if you read this blog regularly, you know that we are already zoo members at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.  And you will also recall that Point Defiance has the only shark aquarium in the area-at-large.  And that Tad LOVES sharks.  And that Ane’s absolute favorite animal, the clouded leopard, is also at Point Defiance.

The problem is that Point Defiance is about an hour and a half drive from our house, so we usually only go once a year.  Woodland Park, on the other hand, is less than half an hour away and very close to the University of Washington, where Tad goes for his ABA sessions.  And Woodland Park is HUGE, so we never get bored going there to play or to see our favorite exhibits.  And both places have different animals, so the feel of both zoos is completely different.  (Though I will say, it is MUCH easier to get around Woodland Park Zoo with a stroller.  Point Defiance has lots of stairs and winding ramps.  Woodland Park is… flatter.)

All this to say, we did some simple math and discovered that a zoo membership would pay for itself if we went to Point Defiance twice between Memorial Day weekend and the end of summer.  That’s easily done, so we bought a family membership.  So, it’s official – we are suckers for a good zoo.

Auntie said, “How can you spend so much time at the zoo, anyway?  I would get so bored!”  To which I replied, “The kids love it, they aren’t getting bored, they are busy walking around and being outside, and when they’re at the zoo, they’re not watching TV.”

Back to our Saturday.  We met up with Nana and Papa, bought our membership, and headed in to see Ane’s favorite animals.  The clouded leopard cubs were having a play time in an enclosed area, and we could see them frolic through the chain-link fence.

It was a beautiful day and the cubs were frisky.  There were four keepers in the area with them to keep tabs on them and answer questions.  Ane told the keepers about her animal report, and one of the keepers held the little boy cub up for her to see.  So she got within two feet of a clouded leopard cub.  When I pointed that out to her, she sighed and said, “But I want to pet it.”

Most of the adults present felt the same way Ane did.

The quality of the pictures is definitely compromised by the fence, but I couldn’t get any closer.  There was a 2-foot tall wire fence keeping everyone about 2 feet away from the chain link fence, and jumping over it to shoot pics through the fence was kind of not allowed.

After Ane had her fill of the cute and furry cubs, we went to Tad’s favorite place.

This is the second time that Tad has just sat down by the tank window and a nurse shark has come to sit in front of him.  I have no idea if this is because the nurse shark (which can actually stop and rest on the sea floor) has just eaten (one of their feeding times is Saturday morning), or if the shark senses Tad.  I have no idea.  All I know is, this has now happened TWICE.  Even Ane joined in.

Rerun loved the sharks – or the “ziccooh” as he calls them (you have to hear him to understand just how he pronounces it, but that really is his word for shark), but he was more interested in the letters he could find.

We stopped for lunch and then went on to see seals and otters and polar bears.

We had promised Ane that we would go see the cubs at their feeding time, but we still had 45 minutes to kill.  So we went to the play area, which is a really fabulous place that Ane and Tad love.  Of course, they love to play.  Rerun found something else to love and do.

In the kids’ zone, there are several words set into the bricks or into the foam playground surface.  Rerun spent his time reading the letters of each and every word he could find – often entertaining bystanders, who were stunned to hear him belting out the letters.

It’s not exactly something that every two-year-old does, is it?

We dragged the boys away from the playground so that Ane could see the cubs have lunch.

Again, I was shooting through glass, but I figured out a way to get a slightly better picture by turning off the flash manually.

These cubs have just started their meat-eating diet – they are carnivores, after all – and they are just learning to eat solids, after being bottle-fed.

Clouded leopards never grow into their paws or their tails.  They are tree climbers, and have the ability to use their extra-long tails and huge paws to help them hang from and in trees.  I’ve learned a lot, thanks to Ane.

Nana and Papa were ready to go home after seeing the cubs eat, but the kids wanted to go back to the playground.  So we said good-bye and went back to play, this time in the large tent that houses the goats that you can pet and feed, and the vet play area.

Rerun fell in LOVE with the stuffed-and-bolted-in-place monitor lizard that is there for all the kids to see.  He insisted that it was a “dinosaur.”  Close enough, I guess.

We eventually had to drag him away so we could go home, too.

So, I guess we’ll be taking trips down to Point Defiance at least a couple of times this summer.  At least Ane can visit the clouded leopards, Tad can achieve zen with the sharks, and Rerun can read letters, look at all the interesting animals, and examine a “dinosaur” through a magnifying glass.

What more can a kid ask for?

2 Responses to “How We Are Zoo Suckers”

  1. Aunt Lynda
    May 30th, 2012 05:48

    Wonderful chronicle of your trip! Thank you!

  2. Auntie
    May 30th, 2012 12:09

    Correction! JW said (via me) that he would get bored at the zoo! But walking around really isn’t his thing, he did fall asleep in your car after the mall that one day!