I don't know about you, but whenever I return to my home town or to a place I visited when I was a child, I always feel bitter sweet. Things aren't exactly the way you remember them, but there's always this piece that stays the same. This past week I had a day like that when we went to the zoo I visited when I was a child.
On Thursday, my in-laws and J, a girl they were babysitting for the day, joined us as we headed off to the Seneca Park Zoo for the day. It was going to be an exciting trip, as not only was it Ryan's first time going to a zoo, but this was my zoo; no one else in Pete's family had been to this one before.
Upon arriving, my excitement diminished a little as Ryan wasn't acting his normally bubbly and cheerful self. I quickly brushed it aside as he's a very routine oriented child, and I just thought maybe his routine was off and that he'd cheer up as soon as he got inside.
Our first stops were the tortoise, who was doing his morning laps, and a very sleepy snow leopard.
|...happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr, purr, purr...|
|Pretending to be safari guides with Grandma|
|Posing with the rhino|
|He loved the tortoise shell!|
Paige was excited to be with J, but impatient to get to all the animals. She wasn't thrilled when I stopped her to take her picture; there were just too many other things to see!
Ryan was hanging in there; he was a little scared of the animals. He pictured them to be tiny, like in his books or the size of his toys. Seeing them so big and moving was a little intimidating! He also had a couple strange screaming outbursts, but they'd only last a couple minutes or so.
|We couldn't find the gecko at first...then realized he was on the window!|
|Pete, his parents, and the boys looking at some turtles|
They also had areas where kids could create things for free. The kids got their faces (or arm) painted, and that made their day! I wasn't sure how Ryan would handle it as he was cranky, but he was a pro.
|Nate with a yellow arm snake, just like the albino boa we had just seen|
There also was a station later that I noticed in their new exhibit A Step Into Africa where the kids could make beaded bracelets. I would have loved to have the kids do that one, but by that time we had realized that Ryan's strange outbursts were caused by his having a flare up of a recurring health problem, and we had to cut our visit short.
However, we couldn't leave without visiting the baboons quickly! There were baboon babies, too.
Or the elephants! The kids loved watching an elephant get a bath. This elephant had been eating, but wanted to go back in the elephant house with it's friend (who was getting the bath).
Sometimes when we'd visit the zoo when I was a kid, my parents or grandparents would bring a lunch for us, and then we'd go to a little playground near the entrance of the zoo where we'd eat and get to burn off some energy. I had really wanted to take the kids there for lunch, but there was absolutely no place to park and the playground was crowded.
So we improvised: right at the entrance there were a couple benches in the shade, so we had our picnic lunch there. The kids were a little upset about no playground, but they understood and we enjoyed our lunch regardless.
|A somewhat sleepy Nate enjoying the picnic in the shade|
|My goofy Monkey girl!|
Even though Ryan had a rough day and we weren't at the zoo for as long as I had hoped, it was still a great trip. The zoo has really updated some things (like the African exhibit), and we loved the little learning exhibits so the kids could see things and feel things up close. It was fun showing my kids the zoo I used to go to when I was their age (and I swear, the looks on their face were like “they had zoos when you were a kid?!?”), and although it was a little smaller than the zoo we're used to visiting, this one was laid out better (so it was harder to miss exhibits), and most of the time we were in the shade (perfect for a hot sunny day!). We're definitely looking forward to going back!
Have you visited any places from your childhood with your kids?