Friday, July 17, 2009

Road trip - Part IV

There were a couple of snafus during our journey, none of which were incredibly painful. The day after our Six Flags outing, we were planning to go to the Santa Barbara Zoo. We left the hotel at 9:15 am and headed out only to realize we had neither directions nor map.

I called the hotel for directions while my partner negotiated the highway signs in an attempt to get us on the correct course. We had just passed the turn off suggested by the desk clerk at the hotel so I hung up and we got off at the following exit to turn around. At the end of the exit ramp, we found ourselves on Zoo Dr. Serendipity.

Following the signs, we meandered down Zoo Dr. for little more than 5 minutes until we reached the parking lot of the Los Angeles Zoo in Griffith Park. The kids asked if we were in Santa Barbara. For a moment they were disappointed until I told them that this zoo was much bigger and had big cats, which the Santa Ba
rbara Zoo doesn't have. We parked in the shade, put sunscreen on the kids and made for the gate. We arrived 10 minutes before the zoo opened so everything worked out great.

The zoo is also a botanical garden so there were many lovely bushes and trees in bloom. I looked at a few name plaques but keeping up with the kids (fonts of information about animals of all sorts!) and reading the information on the animals we were viewing was quite enough. I do wonder about the effects of the non-native plants in the collection.

The zoo is nicely laid out. Newer displays are impressive while a few of the older habitats, particularly for the jaguar, are sadly antiquated. It's apparent that the elephant environment will be a site to behold when it's complete. When I think of zoos, I always think of The Life of Pi - great book.

Among the favorite displays of the day were the koala, kimodo dragon, chimpanzee, orangutan, giraffe, tiger and kangaroo. There were a few critters I had never heard of, including: echidna, siamang (I thought it was a howler monkey but those were in a different habitat), babirusa, takin and serow. And while I have seen many tapirs, I don't recall seeing furry ones.

The aviary was nifty but stinky. The kids moved a little too fast to see any of the birds but I managed to spot at least five amid the trees and bushes.

It was very warm so we took advantage of the misting fans around the zoo at every opportunity. There was plenty of shade and lots of benches. The crowd was fairly small when we arrived but as the day wore on, it grew though not unbearably. We didn't have to wait for viewing at most habitats and got seats at the chimpanzee habitat immediately.

On the way out, the kids wanted one more mist so they went with their father while I went into the gift shop and got a floaty pen for my collection. I got to the car in time to open the windows and turn on the air so we wouldn't turn into fruit roll ups. As soon as everyone had drinks and buckled up, we were on the road for home.

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