Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Playing at the zoo!

at Two Writing Teachers!
Sunday was my birthday!  Now I don't know what most 28-year-olds do on their birthdays, but I'm absolutely still a kid at heart.  The sun was beaming down, warm June-like breezes were swirling in the air, and I wanted to do something FUN for my birthday.

"Let's go to the zoo!!!" I announced.  Husband rolled his eyes and grinned, pretending to complain that he didn't want to get that tired out...

We're lucky enough to live ten minutes away from one of the best zoos in the country, and I grew up spending countless sunny days there.  Weekend programs as a two-year-old, week-long summer camps every year of preschool and elementary school, and finally summer-long volunteering from ages 13-18.  I know the zoo as well as my own house and the animals as well as my own friends!  I've petted a rhino, slept over and seen the wolves run after-hours on night hikes, held millipedes and Madagascan cockroaches while encouraging visitors to touch them, spent afternoons surrounded by kangaroos, and held kestrels and screech owls with a falconry glove to advertise for the bird show.  I know the names and quirky personalities of goats, eagles, and elephants.  At every exhibit, I have favorite animals to look for, little-known facts to tell whoever will listen, and special anecdotes heard straight from the keepers.

Friends will tell you that going to the zoo with me is like going with a personal tour guide.  Family members will tell you not to go to the zoo with me unless you want to spend the whole day and wind up completely exhausted!

"We can just go for a little while... we don't have to see every animal..." I always tell myself.  But you never know what the animals will be doing!  Really, the only thing that makes me leave the zoo is a time limit.  Luckily, on Sunday we had one because we had to be back in time for my birthday dinner.

This time, the biggest treat was the polar bears.  I'm glad we didn't skip them, even though it was almost time to go, Husband's feet were dragging, and he had already insisted we sit down while eating our ice cream instead of seeing more animals!  One polar bear was having a riot in the water, splashing and thrashing and playing with a giant ball.
"my ball!"
He threw the ball.  He dove down under water and came jumping up at the ball.  He flicked the ball with his nose.  He curled up on top of the ball and tried to make it sink, only to have it flip him over because it was too buoyant.
"Come here, ball!"
He was just like a huge kid... or my dad, who's like a huge kid... playing in the pool! 
As if that wasn't fun enough to watch, our zoo has a really cool feature in the polar bear exhibit where you can actually go under part of the tank and watch the bears swim from underneath.  So we went down and watched him cavort from below as he dove and swam.

He chased fish, played with the ball, floated on his back, and did flips.

At one point, he even grabbed a big rock from the bottom of the tank, brought it onto the ceiling of our viewing place, walked around in the shallow water above us to find a good spot for it, and set it down right on the ceiling!
"Hmm, is this a good spot for this rock?"
Can you think of a better way to spend a sunny day?


  1. I cannot. I felt like you took me right along with you. Happy Birthday!

  2. I want to come with you to the zoo! This place has imprinted on you in such an imteresting way. I am 28 x 2 and I think anything that brings so much joy is the perfect place to go on your birthday. The polar bear show was to celebrate your special day I am SURE of it. :)

  3. HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY! I couldn't help but smile as I could feel your carefree spirit and joy throughout your description of the zoo and the polar bear.

  4. Polar bears are one of my favorite animals to visit at the zoo. You were lucky to get such an animated show and I was lucky you took pictures to share your fun. I hope the rest of the day was a great day for you. I definitely want you to be my zoo guide if I ever make it back to Columbus. Okay?

  5. Gosh, Jennifer, this is a side of you you've never revealed! How wonderful that you know the animals so well. I would love to go to the zoo with you! The polar bear pics are priceless! And I love that you know all these things about the animals. Finally, happy, happy birthday to you. I think it must have been wonderful!

  6. Thanks for the birthday wishes, everyone -- and I will give you all personal zoo tours if you're ever in Columbus! :-)

  7. I love the zoo. Great photos and what an incredible place for a polar bear to play.

  8. Happy Birthday. A fun way to spend the day.


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