“Oh well in five years time we could be walking round a zoo
With the sun shining down over me and you
And there’ll be love in the bodies of the elephants too
And I’ll put my hands over your eyes, but you’ll peep through
And there’ll be sun sun sun all over our bodies
And sun sun sun all down our necks” – 5 Years Time by Noah & The Whale
One could say a benefit of social media is being enlightened of local deals and events going on at any given moment. A friend of mine shared a photo which explained a deal that the local zoo is having for ten days. Admission is only ten dollars per person which is quite a bargain considering that’s more than half off of the normal price. We love taking advantage of deals such as the one I’ve described so we spontaneously decided we would be taking a trip to the zoo in the weekend even despite the weather. Although the clouds were heavily spread out as if in an overcast hammock yards above us, the clouds did not break. It has occurred to me that if we get out on a gloomy day, we usually outlast the rain and I don’t exactly have an explanation so we’re grateful nonetheless. Although it did not rain, it was very humid as it usually is in the good ole sunshine state.
Considering neither me or my husband have been to zoo in quite some time, we had no idea where we were going and that there were so many attractions. When you walk into the gates, you stand in the center of decisions. The center branches off into five different areas and a couple sub-attraction areas in which you can venture. We decided to go in order and visit the animals as they land on the map. The areas available for visitation are the Florida Wildlife Center, Asian Gardens, Primate World, Safari Africa, and Wallaroo Station.
Our first stop was to the Aviary Gardens. The variety of birds available for viewing is massive. Certain types of birds are bigger than your average pigeon and not exactly constrained to one area. They can’t escape but they are free-roaming and you almost feel like they are going to walk right up to you. We searched high and low for birds flying or waddling. We found guineas, ducks, kookaburras, scarlet ibis that looked like flamingos, and many more. A certain gross white bird voided its bowels right as I was taking a picture; talk about no class! As we were exiting the aviary, we noticed a nesting bird which was the sweetest act of nature I’ve ever seen and my favorite of this section but the kookaburras were pretty adorable, too.
Next on the map was the wallaroo station. Although this stop was supposedly mainly for kids, we saw some really neat animals. Some animals of note were pygmy goats, emus, flying fox bats, llamas, koalas, and wallabys. The emus were looking for trouble. It seems as if they were waiting for us to get a little closer to the fence so they could strike. Evilness at its finest. My favorite portion of this exhibit is a hard decision to choose because of the types of animal at hand. The flying fox bats were very fascinating since you really only see bats at nighttime. These bats hung upside-down and I learned something today! The hooks at the end of their wings actually aid their mobility. They are similar to hands if we’re talking about Captain Hook anyway. A couple put on a show for us and started fighting while suspended in the air. The koala was sleeping unfortunately; they sleep 18-22 hours a day. Let’s talk about a big window containing a lovely creature with a small window of time to see him in motion. Last but not least, the wallabys were perfect since they free-roam an enclosed area. You could be walking on the path and he might just come right up to you. The hop, hop, hop is obviously delightful but more so than that is the fact that one of the wallabys actually decided to take a shortcut right in front of us, under the rails, and right onto the path! He was so close!
En route to Safari Africa, we stumbled upon penguins on the beach! Penguins are up there in my list of favorite animals so I was simply too happy. I honestly believe I dragged my poor husband 95% of the outing, just because I was that overly excited; pretty much like a little girl. We spent time gazing at them waddling and shaking their feathers. Wandering into the dark African tunnel, I was unsure that anything could top the penguins off on my spectrum of excitement. I was so wrong! One of my favorite parts of the entire zoo were the meerkats! I think we spent the most time with them than any animal in the whole 2,000 available for our education and pleasure. We watched them dive in and out of their holes, stand up straight, and make the same faces our dog, Sadie, makes. We both couldn’t stop exclaiming how adorable they are and how much I just wanted to take one home. Alas, that is not possible. At one point, I was standing a little further than my husband taking a photo and I started hearing something. I looked over and found him communicating with the meerkats! They actually respond: who knew? They whimper in the cutest, most gentle way you could think of. After I was finally peeled away, we saw elephants (even a baby!), tortoises, cheetahs, flamingos, zebras, giraffes, hippos, and rhinos. Sadly the cheetah was sleeping but I was able to sneak in a zoomed photo of its feline-like body stretched out in a “this is the life” fashion. There is an interaction with the giraffes available if you wanted to feed them. That is if they don’t hang out in the common area and actually wander to the feeding station. It seemed like every time we got to the top, they would leave. I’m sure we wandered around the giraffes at least three times. The first time he left when we got there, the second time they didn’t even come over at all, but the third time was the charm.
After leaving Safari Africa, we arrived to a more familiar territory: The Florida boardwalk. We walked through a maze of panthers, black bears, stingrays, the bald eagle, alligators, snapping turtles, wild turkeys, otters, and deer. I loved watching the black bear move about because you’re really not used to seeing them often although we are in the vicinity to do so. They are pretty graceful. I also severely enjoyed the manatee exhibit. We view the manatee hospital, then walked around to view the large spring area of the manatees on top of the water and underneath the water. We left the upper boardwalk and ventured into a dark tunnel that allowed you to view the fat mermaids from a whole new perspective. They beautifully and gracefully ate balls of lettuce, with or without their fins. Then we moved further into the dark tunnel to view other aquatic life in the Discovery Center. Of which were geckos, frogs, snakes, seahorses, a snapping turtle, and strange fish. The stingray exhibit was interactive because you could pet them, only using two fingers of course, to feel their slimy smooth bodies. They got a kick out of splashing bystanders; it’s as if they made a game of it and enjoyed every bit of it. I mean hey, if people were touching me all day and staring at me, I would definitely start something to make a splash.
We left our stomping grounds and re-ventured into non-native territory. We found ourselves in the Asian Gardens and Sulawesi Aviary. We didn’t really see many birds in here as we really didn’t look hard enough but my favorite were the silkie chickens! They were quite fluffy. Other animals we saw were warthogs, a sloth bear, more deer, leopards, more rhinos, and my favorite of the entire zoo: the tigers. I absolutely love tigers with a passion so it was nice to see them today. I expected it of course considering it is a zoo but he was out and about. He actually peed right in front of the glass and I accidentally took a picture of it, but I’ve come to find they even pee like domesticated house cats. It’s really nice to think of.
Now it is time to swing out of this story just as the monkeys in primate world were doing. AKA: My husband’s favorite part of the entire trip. We saw orangutans, chimpanzees, gibbons, and other various tiny monkeys. We spent the most time watching the highly intelligent orangutans swing in out of their rope habitats, grab things, and walk just as if they were human. It was an astonishing view. The tiny monkeys had the cutest, smallest faces and there were titi monkeys which stay in pairs with intertwined tails. <3
You thought I would leave without obsessing over the giraffe I fed? Wrong! When the giraffe workers were able to draw the giraffes attention, I was able to feed him. It was very exciting to me even though the moment was a quick one. He loved the lettuce apparently because he sucked up through his long mouth so fast. He had a really long, black tongue that vacuumed the piece of lettuce out of my hand before I could blink. I gave him another piece and the same thing happened but he lingered for a moment around my head, waiting for another person to come up and share the experience. As shown in the third photo, he kept licking the poles and it was the most comical event of the day.
When we left, we indulged in the best lunch we could have thought of. We stopped at an Authentic Latin supermarket because I was craving a cuban sandwich. We definitely found one not even five minutes after I made the suggestion. The best part was the fact that we didn’t even spend $15.00 and we both got full sandwiches, drinks, some Puerto Rican coffee that he hasn’t seen in forever, and a beef empanada (my favorite!) on the side. You cannot beat that and it filled us up. We didn’t even eat the other half of our sandwiches until we got home.