365 Days of Writing – Day 50

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Yesterday, a holiday which featured perfect weather, it seemed like the entire city was headed to the zoo. I, fortunately, was headed in the opposite direction.

As I drove past, not into, the zoo. I was able to witness a line of traffic that was easily three miles long. Did I miss “free day at the zoo” notices? The line of cars inching along the freeway blocked multiple exits. I estimated it would take nearly twenty minutes to reach the zoo entrance at the rate the cars were moving (or not moving). With everything there is to do in the city, I was frankly surprised that the zoo was such a draw. I guess it’s been too long since I had young children to entertain.

I’m glad that the zoo is so poular. Perhaps it’s time I gave it a second look. The last time I visited was over ten years ago. I spent my fair share of time at the zoo in the distant past with my daughter and in the not as distant past with my nieces. My daughter even went to Zoo camp one summer.

It is good for children to get to see actual animals, not just pictures in a book or images on a screen. For that they need the zoo. I am not too familiar with zoos in general so I don’t know how ours stands up to other city zoos. I think we have a pretty good gorilla exhibit – I recall reading about a new gorilla habitat being built. I know we had issues with the elephant enclosures but I don’t recall how or if the issue was corrected.

I’m not opposed to zoos, I’m just not a huge fan – particularly after having the chance to visit Kenya. At both Amboseli and Tsavo West, I was lucky enough to see animals in their natural environment. The wide open spaces they inhabited dwarfed the area allowed by the zoo enclosures. It was magical to see the animals going about their lives, undisturbed and unconcerned about us in our car with our cameras and our binoculars aimed at them. It’s not an easy nor an inexpensive trip but I wish it was one everyone could take.

Despite its shortcomings, I’m glad the zoo is here and available for families to enjoy. For their sake and that of the environment, I wish there was some way for visitors to get there other than individual autos!

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