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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Our Day at Columbus Zoo

Who goes to the zoo on a hot summer day?  Everyone apparently!  My husband treated us to a zoo membership this year and we were all itching to get up to the Columbus Zoo to see the new additions, so we decided to go yesterday even though it was going to be 87 degrees and sunny.  Plus, our niece is visiting from Georgia and we wanted to do something fun with her while she was here.  It was really hot, but a fun day.  

When we started out, it was foggy, but cleared up pretty quickly once we entered into the outskirts of Columbus. 

Columbus Zoo (Columbus, Ohio) recently added and opened Polar Express, their new polar bear exhibit.  They did a beautiful job with it!  Polar bears are my absolute favorite wild animal, so that was the first place we headed (thank you family!).  There is an upper deck to see the bears outside and then you can go down into what looks like an underground mine to see the polar bears swimming in the water.

 This is the polar bear coming over the side - look at those paws!

This was my favorite shot (I took several that didn't turn out well).  This photo was taken with me looking above my head.  Isn't he (or she) beautiful?  I know they are a fierce wild animal, but I still want to hug one!

It was neat to hear what people were saying around us (this exhibit was packed).  The exclamations were everything from, "Wow!", "They've really outdone themselves!", and just a lot of "oohs" and "aahhs".  When it gets colder and school begins again, I'd love to go there and just sit and watch them swim around. 

We were privileged to see Misha, a baby gorilla who now lives at the Columbus Zoo.  She is so very small!  In this photo she is sleeping peacefully on one of the zoo's volunteers.

You can read all about Misha's incredible story and Columbus Zoo's surrogate program here.

Across the way from Misha was the silverback gorilla.  He is magnificent!  He was trying so hard not to let his eyes close - he had that droopy, "it's time for a nap" look.  There were so many people, it was as if he was trying to see each one before going to sleep. 

I love this next photo - up close of his face.  God's creations are so beautiful and unique!**

We enjoyed some ion therapy while standing next to this waterfall in the Asia Quest area of the zoo.

These gorgeous red flowers were blooming all around the Asia Quest area of the zoo.  One bloom was larger than my hand!

We were a bit amused by this sign...

Especially when we were able to see the bears...

This one was sacked out!  And his buddy was too...

Just goes to show that even wild animals are peaceful at times too.  It must have been nap time!

Columbus Zoo also has baby manatees!  There are 6 manatees in the tank now.  Very cool! 

You can read more about the four new baby manatees here.

My husband loves, loves fish, so the aquarium stop was a must.  The aquarium is quite impressive with all sorts of exotic and tropical fish.  There are a few sharks in the mix (smaller species) and some rays too.  At certain times of the day, you can watch the scuba divers feed the fish and maintain the tank.

Of course, we all took the opportunity to enjoy the air conditioning and sit down for a few minutes.  The girls didn't mind a bit!

Our niece Melanie loves red pandas, so that was our last stop.  Just as we walked up to the habitat, he walked right out in plain view!  I told Mel it was as if he had walked out there just for her. 

He's so pretty!  He has the tail of a raccoon (striped and full) and a face that looks like a cross between a panda and a raccoon (in my opinion).  I do believe God has a sense of humor, does He not?

Our girls were a bit disappointed because we only saw one leopard sleeping.  The tigers and lions were no where to be seen!  We must be visiting at the wrong time of day.  Perhaps next time we'll see them.

A macaw got loose in the zoo while we were there yesterday.  It was rather interesting to see zoo associates - at least 20 of them - positioned around one area where the macaw was hiding.  Zoo personnel were around the pond, on the path, in the trees, and in boats on the pond.  At the time we came across the scene, they had been trying to catch the bird for an hour and a half and still had not caught him.  We don't know if he was caught or not by the time we left.  Always exciting at the zoo!

A Few Miscellaneous Thoughts...

Zoo Membership - If you're headed to the Columbus Zoo, you may want to consider a zoo membership for your family.  Especially if you live close by and enjoy visiting.  My husband opted for the Family Plus membership, which allows us to bring two guests in on our pass for free.  After one more visit, it will pretty much pay for itself.  Parking is also free when you have a family membership.  Oh, and you receive 10% off gift shop purchases too.  Reciprocal privileges include 50% off at Cincinnati Zoo, Toledo Zoo, and The Wilds, to name a few.  There are many more perks with a membership, but I don't remember them at the moment.

Lockers - if you are like us and bring lunch to the zoo but don't want to carry it around all day, there are lockers available in the front entrance area of the zoo.  The cost for a small locker is $6 and $7 for a big one.  You must put down a $3 deposit for the key, but as long as you return the key, you get the deposit money back.  We felt it was a bit of a rip off, but also liked the convenience of it.  We remember the days of having a stroller to roll everything around in, but those days are no more for us.  So, if you have a stroller, a locker may not be a concern for you. 

Pressed pennies - these are so much fun!  All around the zoo, they have pressed penny machines featuring different animal pictures you can have pressed into a penny.  Each pressed penny costs 51 cents, so remember to bring two quarters and a penny for each penny you want to press.  We think these are fun and inexpensive souvenirs! 

Some things to bring/wear:
  • hats
  • sunscreen
  • sunglasses
  • supportive shoes
  • camera
  • bottled water
We would recommend bringing your own lunch and snacks unless you have budgeted quite a chunk of $$ for buying lunch at the Congo River Market within the zoo.  Bottled water runs $2.50 plus tax per bottle, so you might want to bring your own.

On the way out of the zoo, there are zoo associates standing at the exit handing out Bob Evans Free Kid Meal coupons.  We were given three - one for each child.  Nice!

It was a great day together as a family!  Hope you and yours are enjoying the summer!

**I just wanted to note that I believe in Creation, not evolution and believe that all animals were created by God.  I believe that man was created in God's own image.  I do not believe that we evolved from apes.  I just think gorillas are a fantastic creation from God.**

I'm not promoting Columbus Zoo for financial gain of any kind.  I simply think it's fun to share what we saw and to share the little tidbits of knowledge that we have learned over the years.

All my best to you today!