Nothing like a day at the zoo with your grand kid/gentlemen and their moms. All that was missing were our two Irish ladies, a fair maiden mom, and a Nashville singer! Even threatening storm clouds coming into Cow Town, an hour before, couldn’t keep us from our zoo date. But the storm must have known it was an important meeting on our calendars and quickly pushed by, leaving in it’s trail a very temperate and perfect day to stroll the asphalt trails.
The meeting place was half way down the zoo entrance tunnel. Those closest, living near the zoo were the first to arrive. PapaJo and Gramma Lin were next, peering down the long darkness to see if the silhouettes standing there were their loved ones. One little tyke started to run towards us, ending with a Big Ashwyn embrace. The other little shadow stood close to mom, not so sure it was us approaching in the dim hallway. Soon we all could decipher Auntie Kristin and cousin Willem heading our direction, and the two already present cousins took a beeline race for their favorite and only boy cousin this side of the border. Willem then seeing them coming took a quick turn about and headed for the exit, not because he didn’t want to see his cousins, but because this became a game of chase! Viggo yelled and pleaded to Willem, ” No Willem, No…” as he hadn’t had a taste of the zoo yet and he wanted him to know in “no uncertain terms” that the zoo trek hadn’t started yet and this wasn’t going to be a short zoo visit!
After greetings and Grammalin paying for her very first “seniors” entrance ticket, a landmark for her, we headed to the penguin line-up…luckily we were there first thing in the morning and there was no line-up! At the end of our visit when we left, the crowds had accumulated and they had the lovely “opportunity” of standing in line with toddlers and kids in the afternoon sun for 30 minutes… or so said the sign reading… “30 minute line from here” . I imagined how that would have gone over with us! Hmm!!!
The penguins splashed, slid all over, did dives and swam under our feet planted on the glass bridge. They also did fancy things like leave trails of white poop as they swam past us, who were peering through the other side of the glass. Some of them had funny tufts on their backs of feathers, left over from molting and looking like a very bad hair cut. Maybe because the penguins were so cute…Ashwyn tenderly came up to Willem in his stroller and like an adult-four- year old, took his two fingers and affectionately pushed in the dimples of Willem with the cutest look as if portraying,” Aren’t you the cutest one year old I’ve ever seen in my whole lifetime!” The three of them began to ravenously devour the penguin- shaped cheese crackers from Willem’s stroller cup.
We went to the outside African display where the lions lazily lay in grass patches while my grandsons ran full speed on the paths doing cousin races. Willem not quite caught up to his current reality of toddler coordination did a face plant on his stroller wheel, while trying to escape my grip on his hand and me trying to contain his out-of-control running spree. After a few shed tears, nothing like a few bites of blueberry muffin from his mom to divert his attention.
Because of the growls from our tummies, we went to the human watering and feeding spot, Kitamba Cafe, where moms brought out homemade peanut butter sandwiches and fresh cut strawberries, while PapaJo and Grammalin supplemented the feed with nutritional things from the cafeteria like hot dogs with ketchup, relish and mustard and fries with potato skin ends, smothered in ketchup… after all, this is human zoo- feed right?
Off went Willlem and Aunt Kristin home for nap time as he had spent his zoo energy and was ready for a crib nap fill-up and his mom had her fill of monkey chasing and was pregnant-tired! PapaJo treated the rest of us and topped up our tank with ice cream cones, as we sat on the curb swishing the hornet who wanted to join in our sweetness!
…On to the butterfly pavilion which had to be the highlight for me, in all it’s tranquillity. It was the referral of Ashwyn. His first visit there, he wasn’t too keen on them as they reminded him of bees buzzing around, which were an aversion to him. He now saw the gentleness of their flight and told his mom he wanted us to go and visit this time…a change of mind! The varieties of species were so varied, I wanted to take out a little notebook and do a check to see how many kinds I could spot, but only did a mind check. The tropical flower smells were intoxicating, and after several sightings of flutter, we went on to the tropical forest. Now was the bribe for Viggo, letting him know the zoo visit was coming to a close, but FIRST, we were going to visit the new zoo train, his specialty!
Pay… then stamp the hand and on went Ashwyn and Viggo to have several round trips on the multicolored train. Interspersed was one zoo animal merry-go-round ride, which Ashwyn wanted to get off mid way. Grammalin convinced him to fix his eyes on the red-butted frog ahead who had blue feet. That seemed to tickle the dizzy grandson and he let out some giggles and stayed put. But one trip only on this dizzy ride and back to the train. Half an hour later Viggo’s nap time was calling as he came across a two year old tussle at the elephant slide involving him, and his mom had to intervene.
All in all one momentous zoo day and PapaJo and Grammalin tuckered out and should have gone home for a nap time also!
So thankful for zoo days and grandson’s who live in the city and daughter and daughter-in-law who want to include grandparents in the fun!