This coming week our seven year old will turn eight. As such he was allowed to pick the day trip destination yesterday, Easter Sunday, and he chose to go to Elmwood Park Zoo, an animal park not far from home for which we have an annual pass.
It was a bright, sunny and warm day so most of the animals were out in their enclosures and most of those were active. The boys enjoyed seeing the eagles. It is always a surprise when close up to see how bulky these birds are, majestic and powerful. We also saw the bighorn sheep and elk wandering around, saw the wolves lazing in the sun just like regular dogs and saw the massive bison clustered together in the same area of their enclosure that they always seem to hang out in. We also went to the barn where the boys saw and heard a barred owl hooting and fed the sheep and goats, something they always enjoy. We also finally saw the cougar sitting up. It was still scooched up in a corner of its enclosure as per always but for once we could see more than just its butt.
The kids always like the room that contains snakes, turtles and frogs and partly that is because it contains a darkened enclosure containing bats. They are fascinated by the bats and love seeing them swoop around and clamber hand over hand along ropes. There were also monkeys, including two who were holding hands, iguanas and sweet-faced little golden lion tamarins. My personal favourite creature in that area of the zoo park, however, was the South America tree porcupine. I love its peculiar face and its prehensile tail. Later on in our visit we also saw some North American porcupines. If anything, they were even more adorable. I asked my 9 year old if he thought we could pinch one and sneak it home in his hoodie. Just when I thought they could not get any more cute, the two porcupine nuzzled together as if kissing. Too sweet.
The boys were sad to discover that Princess the black jaguar was no longer in her enclosure. We knew she had cancer so I can only assume that Princess had finally succumbed to her illness. In her place, there were two jaguars of the patterned variety. One was sleeping but another was padding around as if looking for something. I guess perhaps dinner time was soon. Near them, there were two capybara who apparently wanted to cool off. I had never seen capybara swimming before so that was very cool to see. They were quite entertaining to watch as one clearly wanted a bit of peace and quiet but the other kept swimming after it, butting against it, splashing and thrashing in the water right next to it. Eventually they hauled themselves out of the pool and sat with their backs to each other as if in a huff.
There was also time for playing in various play areas and an ice cream break and also a turn on a little caterpillar train. We assumed that the latter would be considered far too lame for kids who had so recently been to the Florida theme parks but they wanted to have a go so they merrily did a few circuits.
After dinner at Chilli’s – a treat for the soon-t0-be birthday boy – we went home to roll the eggs the boys had decorated earlier in the week. The kids decided just to use the slope in our back garden but apparently it was not steep enough so they had to throw, chuck and lob their eggs more than roll them. They even made them tumble down the concrete steps in order to pulverise their eggs. Something about smashing things to smithereens really appeals to little boys so they had an utter blast.