Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Valentine's Day at the zoo

It's been a long time since I've visited a zoo. I went a few times back 2000, one of them being while I was in San Diego. Naturally, a visit to San Diego Zoo was on the agenda. I had been as a teenager and was keen to go again and see what was new, having heard much about their world renown breeding programme. Actually, I was really disappointed. Most of the enclosures were tiny and unstimulating. Things may well be different now but I was certainly surprised at the time. Wild Animal Park, on the other hand, was fantastic. Huge open spaces and authentically recreated habitats (as well as a zoo can manage to do this). I see it has undergone a name change but hope the intent of the original breeding and education programmes are still the foundation for this amazing place.

As few months later, as a teacher, I took a class of 7-8 year olds to Wellington Zoo as part of a school trip. We had 120 young children with us and I was determined to not 'lose' one girl who had a habit of disappearing on every school trip she had been on since she started school three years earlier. There was no way she'd be able to escape me - she would be in the group of children I was supervising and permanently glued to my hand; I would be the first teacher to return to school having not lost Carmen. I did quite well for the first hour or so. We wandered around to the back of the zoo and went up to the giraffe enclosure, where one of my girls got to feed a giraffe by hand. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a red coat way over by the tigers on the other side of the enclosure. Carmen. Yes, I'd 'lost' her after all. Luckily, I managed to retrieve her quickly before too many others noticed. Her excuse for disappearing? "I wanted to see the tigers." Indeed.

Last week, we won a competition to spend Valentine's Night at the zoo. Perfect timing to help me finish another 101 in 1001 activity, #38 - Go to the zoo and a really unique way to celebrate Valentine's Day! Yesterday brought drizzle and humidity, leaving a cool, overcast evening but I was determined we'd still go. We grabbed jackets, walking shoes and a picnic dinner.

Some of the animals had gone to bed early so we didn't get to see any tigers, lions, meerkats or chimpanzees, but we met lots of other lovely critters along the way and got to feed the giraffes. Here are just a few of the folk we met on a special Valentine's night at the zoo.

A pelican gobbles down some fish for dinner
A noisy lemur makes his presence known from afar
Mayalsian sun bear entertains the crowd
Giraffes feeding in their 'bedroom'
The youngest giraffe pops up for something to eat
Baboon - alpha male
This little blue penguin settles in for the night


apparentlyjessy said...

What an awesome prize, I would have loved that experience. Valentines at the zoo, so romantic!

Alli said...

So cute! I'd love to win a contest that takes me to the zoo... Last time I went it was with a club trip and we basically only saw the bird exhibit.

On another note related to 101 in 1001. How hard was it for you to learn the Ukulele?

~JarieLyn~ said...

What a great experience. That young giraffe sure is cute. You got some great pictures of your night.