posts tagged with 'zoo'

to the zoo

This past weekend Harvey was away at a Youth Group overnight: he left Friday afternoon and wasn't back until Sunday after lunch. At supper yesterday were eager to hear about his adventures, and he did tell us some, but he was pretty tired. Also he's a teenager. Suffice it to say that he had a grand time. Of course, in his absence the rest of us had to do something interesting enough that we didn't feel like we were missing out on all the fun, so we went to the zoo.

Zion, Elijah, and Leah looking at a crowd of flamingos

look at those crazy birds!

The Stone Zoo, the smaller of Greater Boston's two zoo options, is less than half an hour away at a good traffic moment. Despite that I don't think I'd ever been there before! And the boys had only vague memories of the last time they went with Leah, years ago. So we were delighted to get right up close to the animals, starting with the flamingos and scarlet ibises and then moving on to the cute furry things.

a bush dog (I think) opening its mouth

I think it's a bush dog

The weather was delightful so I was surprised not to find the place more crowded on a Saturday afternoon. There were people there, sure, but not nearly as many as I would have expected. Especially not many bigger kids—mostly lots of toddlers and preschoolers. There was certainly lots for our big kids to enjoy. Besides the real animals there were lots of giant Lego constructions, each with some information and a piece count. They were easier to see from far away than the actual animals, so they kept us moving to see them all.

Elijah next to a lego mouse taller than he his, copying its pose

do they look alike?

Zion and Elijah putting their faces into a lego undersea scene

getting in the picture

Of course, the real animals were the main draw. We tried to each pick a favorite, but it was hard: they were all so charming. The gibbons with their long arms, the hornbills, the various things that looked like crosses between cats and raccoons... even bears! I think my top pick was the otters, who weren't awake when we first went by their enclosure but put on a great show when I went back for a second look. I would have stayed to watch them way longer than the rest of my family. Zion loved the wolves.

a Mexican gray wolf at the Stone Zoo

mostly they were moving, but this one paused for us

The challenge of the zoo for Zion is not getting to take all the animals home. He made up for it by taking control of the camera and working hard to get photos of each exhibit, including some that I would never have bothered about because they were moving too fast, or not at all. The jaguar, for example, was disappointing in its sleepiness, and we never did find the snow leopard in its enclosure. But he also got some great shots where it looked like the animals were posing just for him.

an alligator opening its mouth it what looks like a smile


He has lots more photos he can show you if you want!

Stone Zoo isn't huge: just the right size for a relaxed afternoon outing. But big enough that we had time for a snack towards the end! Chips and nachos at the Yukon Creek Cafe was absolutely in keeping with the flow of the expedition.

Zion at a table at the zoo outdoor cafe area

pit stop

Sadly the other snack bar closed before Elijah was able to get back there for the caramel popcorn he wanted. Oh well, he was consoled with the pair of slippers he picked up at the gift shop on the way out. Zion got a snow leopard doll to make up for not seeing the real thing. It was a good time!


at the National Zoo

A little while after we got back from Washington I was talking to someone about our visit to the zoo there, and she explained that she's not really a fan of zoos because she's not sure about animals in captivity. I can understand that. But if I were an animal and had to be in one, I think the National Zoo is the place to pick. Even the elephants had plenty of room to roam; given that, we really appreciated that a couple of them chose to hang out right by the fence where we came in.

an elephant

look at the elephant!

The landscaping and design of the zoo is wonderful for visitors and animals alike, and I'm so glad we had time to hang out there on the last day of our visit to Washington. We stayed for over three hours, and we could have been even longer. There were the charismatic mega-fauna like elephants and lions:

a lion snarling

an aloof monarch

There were cute little mammals like the fennec fox and... this other thing:

a fennec fox sleeping


an animal of some sort in the small mammal house

photogenic, whatever it is

And there were playground and activities for the kids as they walked between the enclosures. One pathway let the kids experience a cheetah's stalking and pursuit of an antelope; here is Zion at the successful conclusion of the hunt:

Zion pretending to eat the leg of a wooden antelope


Of course, not everything was perfect. Like everything else in Washington, it was super hot—too hot for us. There was a great bee-themed playground that we were excited to hang out in—we saved for the end of our visit—but when we finally went to play there the heat coming off the rubber matting was just unbearable. So we sat in the shade instead. And we were sad not to see the pandas, who are kind of a main draw; one of them was working on having a baby and, rare as panda babies are in captivity, could not be disturbed.

But those downsides can't spoil what was overall a great experience. My favorite part was the sea lion exhibit, where I took this picture. Before we went friends who have been to the zoo before told us to bring a bottle, which we could use to attract the sea lions' attention, but we didn't even need it; one in particular seemed to be completely fascinated by his adoring public, and happy to pose for photos. And they had quite an audience!

lots of kids looking at the sea lion through the glass

see the sea lion!

One final note, if you're considering a visit. The zoo is built on a pretty significant slope (that's part of what makes the landscaping so interesting) and there are parking lots at the top, where the main gate is, and at the bottom. Not knowing what we were doing we parked at the D lot on the bottom, and that was absolutely the right choice, because it meant we walked up to the top of the zoo first and then back down to the car. If we'd done it the other way we actually might not have made it back, and I'd never be able to write these words. As it was we survived, and left the zoo in time to make it home to Bedford by 11:30 at night. What a trip!