On my birthday, my son asked what I would like to do to make the day special. Impulsively I said that I’d like to visit the L.A. Zoo. When was the last time you visited the zoo? Like me, I would bet that most people visited a zoo last when their kids were small. Either that or they’ve taken their grandkids there once. (Or had to write a paper for a college class in Zoology).
The zoo is an often forgotten venue available to just about everyone located near even a middle sized city. It’s a place to wander, take in the beauty of nature, and learn a little about some extraordinary creatures. And it’s far less expensive than spending the day at, say, an amusement park.
Growing up in New York, the zoos I remember going to were the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn, the Central Park Zoo, and the Bronx Zoo. The Bronx Zoo had a little train that took you past various exhibits. I haven’t been back in years and don’t know what it is like now though I do know that it is the world’s largest metropolitan zoo.
My most vivid memory of the L.A. Zoo was the time my children were small and we took them to the “children’s zoo” section where one was free to walk amongst the animals, feeding the goats, sheep, etc. My family couldn’t stop laughing when they discovered that a small goat had eaten half way through the straw purse I was holding.
A little background here. The Griffith Park Zoo opened in 1912 (just celebrated its 100th birthday). It opened with only 15 animals. By 1956 the citizens of Los Angeles knew that the Griffith Park Zoo needed to be expanded and a $6.6 million bond measure was passed to build a new one. (The adjacent Travel Town Museum was another popular draw, especially for train enthusiasts and families with small children).
On my visit this time, the weather was perfect and we got a lot of exercise traipsing up and down the hills, exploring different areas. My favorite has always been the ape exhibit. Probably because these primates are our closest relatives. Yesterday, we saw Bruno, a 33 year old, 250 lb. orangutan. Bruno, apparently, does well with “the ladies” and is considered somewhat of a “gentle giant”. We were also able to watch a four month old orangutan being nursed by her mother. It was priceless.
In addition to this we had the opportunity of seeing two baby tiger cubs being watched protectively by their mother
If you haven’t visited your nearest zoo in a while, I’d strongly recommend doing so. Elephants, lions, bears, giraffes, zebras…it was a wonderful way in which to spend my birthday.
Here’s a dozen of some of the most popular American zoos. What’s your favorite zoo?
The Pittsburgh Zoo
The Oregon Zoo
The Indianapolis Zoo
The Bronx Zoo
The Kansas City Zoo
The Smithsonian National Zoological Park
The Milwaukee County Zoo
The San Diego Zoo
The San Antonio Zoo
The Columbus Zoo
The Cincinnati Zoo
Hope you enjoy the weekend whatever you do, thanks for joining me on today's journey along, RHODES LESS TRAVELED,