Friday, July 30, 2010

Our day at the ZOO!

I’ve wanted to go to the Langley Zoo (better known as the Greater Vancouver Zoo) for years. They’ve had some bad press here and there and I resisted going for a long time because of it, but then I thought I should see for myself what I think of it before I judge. I obviously can’t know from one visit how ‘happy’ the animals are, but I can definitely say my first instinct is that it really is a great place for them. They seemed content, and had big wide open spaces, seem well fed, etc.

Anyway. I wanted to go to this zoo for a long time since I love love LOVE animals SO MUCH, it’s just that it’s ALL THE WAY OUT in Langley and you can’t even get there by bus, that’s how ‘out there’ it is. We don’t usually have access to a car but my mom offered for us to borrow hers for the week since my bro and s-i-l could take it back to the island this weekend so we were finally given the chance to go to the zoo.
The most exciting thing of all was knowing Andrew was going to see all these animals that he looks at in books or on videos and knows some of the names of but had never seen ‘in person’ before. Imagine, you’ve seen monkeys a million times IN BOOKS and then there they are RIGHT BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES!

I was so excited to be at the zoo that I was talking in a sing-song voice all morning, and for part of the afternoon, too, as it happens. I was just so GIDDY because we were going to the ZOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
It was a very long drive out and Andrew had his moments of getting antsy (he isn’t one of those babes who loves car rides) but he did really well all considered. I just kept singing Raffi’s song ‘Momma’s taking us to the zoo tomorrow’ although I had my own variation with ‘Dada’s taking us to the zoo because Momma insisted!’

We got there, got our tickets, went inside, and lo and behold, there he was.
My favourite animal in the whole wide world, the ostrich! I was in heaven and I had only just entered the gates.
After checking out the ostriches we went and said hello to the giraffes and had a quick boo at the lion’s den before heading to our 12:00 train ride. It goes all around the zoo and although some of the animals were hiding or in other areas of their enclosures, it allowed us to see the zoo from a different perspective and we saw some of the animals that we otherwise might not have. I sort of think a train ride should be included in the price of the ticket, but on the other hand I can’t complain since because we have aquarium memberships we got 20% off our admission anyway.
After the train ride we went and had lunch, which was decent but not the greatest ‘restaurant’ ever. Well it’s more like a canteen, which is fine, although they seemed to be out of a lot of things and the staff weren’t the friendliest. In fact, I would say throughout the zoo the staff weren’t very friendly or should I say weren’t even really around for the most part. I guess I’m used to the aquarium where the staff seem to be in every corner and seem approachable if you had a question, so I was a bit surprised that in a lot of areas of the zoo there didn’t seem to be anyone working there at all. Which is not to say they weren’t there, just that they weren’t making themselves available to the public.
But that (and the lameness of the gift shop) are my only complaints, I otherwise loved the place!
After lunch we saw the giraffe’s eating and I was able to get some good close-ups of them. I love giraffes, they seem so dinosaur-like to me. Did you know that giraffes eat for 20 hours a day and only sleep for half an hour a day?! I told James I am coming back as a giraffe. They also weigh close to 1500lbs I think it was, but you’d never know it!! Then again, the weight is dispersed pretty well given they are also 19 feet tall. I really took in all the giraffe stats (and it helps that the giraffe shirt I got Andrew has the stats on it, lol!)
James wanted to check out the lion/tiger feeding, which I was a bit apprehensive about but went anyway. I had this horrible vision of the lions ripping some poor animal apart and eating it like it was their last supper (like you’d see on the nature channel). But I should have realized that 1. obviously they’re not given a live animal to kill and devour because it’s not humane to put a small animal in a cage with the lions when it doesn’t have a chance to even try to escape and 2. the lion’s are in a routine and KNOW they get fed at certain times each day so if they’re given a slab of meat they’ll just take it and eat it but not make a huge angry-seeming production out of it. So it was a lot tamer than I’d built it up to be, thank goodness!
It was cool seeing the lion’s and the tiger (named Sweetie!) up fairly close (we didn't get great pictures though), although by that time it was sooooo hot and Andrew was getting a bit on the fussy side. He needed a nap but it’s so hard for him to go for a sleep when he knows there’s so much going on around him. We started wandering further into the zoo and eventually he did fall asleep and he slept the entire rest of the time we were there. He saw a lot of animals though, including the ostriches, lions, tiger, giraffes, hippos, monkeys, baboons, zebras, camels, bison, parrots, and quite a few others. I think his favourites were the monkeys and the giraffes.
We walked all through the zoo, except for one area where I think they might have had snakes and whatnot but it was deemed a ‘quiet zone’ and even once Andrew was napping I didn’t want to take any chances with him in a quiet zone! We’d get in there and that would be when he’d decide to be the loudest. But we saw everything we wanted, including even an eagle rescue area, and the grizzly bear, wolves. There were so many animals, I can’t even remember everything we saw!
Oh, I also really took to this camel for some reason. Maybe because his humps reminded me off my saggy breasts. LOL Apparently he is a smart camel - his hump is sagging because he knows he'll get fed so he doesn't bother storing extra fat in there to live off of. Interesting little tidbit, that camels don't actually store WATER but rather excessive FAT in their humps. You learn something new every day!
It was a VERY hot day and I think it might be smarter to go in the spring or early fall rather than the hot part of summer. We started to get a bit burnt out and I especially was so thirsty, so we went and got some water and an ice cream sandwich and then headed on our way home. Andrew woke up for a few minutes, then dozed back to sleep and slept nearly all the way back home, even accounting for a car stalled on the highway which caused our trip to be far longer than what it should have been.
All in all it was such a fun and memorable day. They rent these cool bike things there so if you don’t want to walk around the entire place you can scoot around on these things and strap kids and babes in them as well. We were going to do that but at Andrew’s age it could go either way – he could either be content with it or totally freak out and throw a tantrum till we let him out, so we didn’t want to take the risk of things going badly. But when he’s a bit older I want to take him back and we’ll do the bike rental. I kind of think it would add another element to the adventure of it all.
It was a smaller zoo than the others I’ve been to (Woodlands Zoo in Seattle, the San Diego Zoo, the zoo in Hawaii…) and I missed seeing elephants and larger monkeys and gorillas, but beyond that I do give the place a thumbs up, and look forward to going back again.

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