Saturday, June 7, 2008

Fort Worth Zoo

Last Saturday, we decided to drive over to Fort Worth to visit the zoo, check out the new penguin exhibit and just enjoy the animals. We’d had some storms bring in cool weather the day before, so we figured we’d try a trip to the zoo now, before the 100+ degree temps arrived later in the summer. The Fort Worth Zoo is about an hour away, but definitely worth the drive when compared to the Dallas Zoo—it may be closer, but the exhibits are antiquated and it isn’t nearly as nice or kid-friendly as the Fort Worth Zoo.

When we arrived, we headed straight for the monkey exhibit. Aiden enjoyed watching the gorillas lounge about in the sun…for about 2 seconds. Then he began complaining. “Mommy, I want to see somefing else.” Brad and I looked at each other, rolling our eyes and thinking, “Great! It’s going to be one of those days.” Aiden didn’t disappoint us, either. The complaint became an oft-repeated refrain throughout the day. We’d arrive at an exhibit, he’d take one look at the animal, then “Mommy, I want to see somefing else.” Apparently, Aiden’s idea of the zoo is we push his stroller somewhere, park it, and he lounges in the shade while a parade of animals are brought before him for his viewing pleasure. As you can image, he was quite disappointed to learn we actually had to go to the animals one at a time!

Finally, Aiden seemed to settle into the rhythm of the day and began to take in the sights (and smells) of the zoo. He was thrilled to see the chimps, who were playfully swinging from ropes and showing off their amazing gymnastics skills. The rhinos, with their general stinkiness, were also quite a draw for Aiden—he is a boy, admirer of all things smelly! The highlight of the morning was seeing an elephant poop. “Daddy! Look! The elephant pooped! YUCKY!” he yelled, much to the amusement of our fellow zoo visitors, who laughed at the sheer joy in Aiden’s face over something so gross and ordinary. He was really anticipating getting to see the lions and was a bit disappointed to find them napping in the sun. Despite his best roars, he couldn’t seem to get them to do anything but yawn occasionally.

Aiden’s favorite part of the morning was the aviary. The zoo has a walk through aviary where they sell popsicle sticks covered in seeds for a dollar. Brad was about to fork over the cash when a mom whose own children had lost interest passed along her sticks as we walked into the aviary. Aiden immediately ran to the railing, trying to shove the sticks of seeds under the birds’ noses. I finally got him calmed down and showed him how to be very still and hold his stick out, and within a few seconds, a bird jumped over and began nibbling away. Aiden was fascinated to be face-to-face with a feathered friend. Amazingly, he stayed still long enough for the bird to clean his stick of seeds and then fly away. Brad and I both got in on the action as well and really enjoyed watching Aiden’s eyes light up as birds would visit us for a snack.

After the aviary, we enjoyed some lunch and headed over to the new penguin exhibit. Unfortunately, the penguins we all napping, but Aiden didn’t mind—there was a bunch of poop for him to admire. After the penguins, it was on to the herpetarium. At this point in the day, I was hot, exhausted, my back aching and Aiden was getting on my nerves (it was our normal nap time), so walking through a cramped, hot building with a billion other smelly zoo visitors bumping into me every two seconds, with the sound of all of their voices echoing off of the concrete walls and tile floors—it was my idea of hell. I’m not one to be claustrophobic or to be bothered by crowds, but the constant noise of hundreds of people, the cramped quarters, plus the smell was sending me over the edge. Aiden, however, was oblivious, and like all young boys, completely enamored by all of the lizards, toads, snakes and spiders, so I persevered, but not without several visits to a bench to close my eyes and retreat to my “happy place.”

Finally Aiden had seen enough reptiles and we headed out to the Texas Wild exhibit. We saw prairie dogs and deer and turkeys. He got to touch sea urchins and other underwater creatures in the Texas Coast exhibit. We saw alligators and mountain lions and a bald eagle. We finished the day with an ice cream cone that was super expensive and melted faster than we could eat it, then headed out to the car. Before we had even made it to the highway, Aiden was asleep in his car seat!

Since we were in Fort Worth, we drove over to our favorite sushi restaurant Hui Chuan, where Brad and I went on our first date, and enjoyed a great, light dinner—but not until after the three of us sat in the shaded parking lot and enjoyed a short snooze in our air-conditioned car! (We didn’t want to wake Aiden, so we figured, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!) After a delicious dinner, we headed home and it was off to bed. We were one worn out family!

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