Goin’ to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo
Anyone else get that Fred Penner song stuck in their head? About going to the zoo?
Well, Ethan and I have been in St. Louis for the last few days to visit family, friends, and attend my cousin’s beautiful wedding. It’s been so nice to be back.
And nothing has changed in my mind—St. Louis is still at the top of my list of favorite cities.
It’s artsy, quirky, rich with history, filled with beautiful architecture, incredible food, lush vegetation, urban, and yet still so homey…a wonderful place to live and raise a family.
A place I wouldn’t mind moving back to in the future.
And though I could name about a million reasons why I love St. Louis, the Zoo is something I’ve looked forward to sharing with Ethan ever since he was born less than a mile East of it’s entrance. (In fact, Barnes & Children’s hospitals were so close to the Zoo, Stu and I spent a couple mornings wandering amongst the animals to calm our nerves while Ethan rested safely in the NICU.) So during our trip there for my cousin’s wedding this past weekend, we made sure to go… especially since the weather was perfect.
It may not be the biggest or fanciest zoo in the country, but I love it because you can get SO close to all the animals. Instead of merely seeing exotic wildlife, you have encounters with sea lions, hippos, penguins, flamingos, and elephants—everything is designed for maximum viewing…something that can’t always be said for the really big zoos. Little kids like Ethan can find and enjoy almost every animal in their habitat.
For instance, the penguins are my favorite. I have no idea how people don’t get their finger chewed off because anyone can reach right in.
See that glass? There’s no top. We could have pet that penguin (though you’d have to be a moron to try). I love that walking through the Penguin Cove puts visitors at risk of splashes of fish-flavored water as the adorable little guys zoom through the water and pop up on the rocks. They almost look fake, they are so perfect.
I was so excited to share my all time favorite animal exhibit with The Peanut. And he liked it, but no where near as much as the rhinos, hippos, and elephants. Good thing we pushed back his nap to fit the big guys in. In case you are wondering, we DID sing some of the Rhino song while gazing at the magnificent beasts (they look small here…they were actually huge). Ethan knew exactly what he was looking at after hearing that song ten billion times in the last 21 months.
And the elephants…awesome.
Check out the baby!!! Ethan kept requesting “More Elephant?!” and to his delight there were both African and Asian varieties, plus, with several different viewing angles of each, he thought he was seeing more elephants at each stop. Request: granted.
The hippos are probably next on my list of favorite St. Louis Zoo attractions, since you can sit below the hippo habitat to see them gliding through the fish filled water. Those hippos must like to put on a show, because they just swim around and around, causing even the most mature on-lookers to giggle. It’s like watching giant grey pigs gracefully float through a fish tank. Tons of fun… literally.
The newest exhibit is the Sea Lions, which mostly consists of, what I’m sure, is a pretty great show, but you can also walk through a tunnel under their pool to watch them swim over your head, which is all we did. Ethan didn’t even know what to think about these guys.
We made a stop at the Children’s Zoo, something I’ve always wanted to check out but never had a child with whom to visit! Yes there were goats, but also a whole building full of fun little animals like guinea pigs, moles, meerkats, echidnas, snakes, and fish, as well as some bugs (yuck). I’m sure it’s a bug that Little Man and Gaga are inspecting above…there were habitats built into logs and trees. Very cool. And those guinea pigs must have been drugged…they never moved while dozens of kids pet them (Ethan may have given one a squeeze to which I yelped, “Gentle!!!”).
Apes, flamingos, bears, a train ride, and some ice cream rounded out our day in the perfect way. Though we really wanted to fit in some giraffes, sting rays, and big cats, nap time had already come and gone so it was time to wrestle The Peanut into his stroller (it’s becoming harder every day) to head home. I was shocked he hadn’t melted down before that point, but Ethan was a perfect Zoo patron, loving every minute.
We’re so glad the Gagas (who are quickly becoming “Gaga Joe” and “Grandma” as Ethan refines his speech) were there to join us and SO happy we made time for a visit. It really is a fantastic, AND FREE, St. Louis icon. Though it meant missing a few friends this trip, Little Man appreciated the super fun, toddler-friendly day.