Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Hogle Zoo

If my memory serves me correctly, I haven't been to the Hogle Zoo since February 2008, when Rachel was just seven months old! We took a commemorative photo by the elephant statue to mark the occasion. Rachel is just a tad bit bigger than she was back in 2008 (and I look a tad bit tired-er) but we're still both pretty cute!

Alexander was very unhappy that I chose to hold someone other than...him
One of my mom's students works at the zoo and told her that she was able to get a spectacular deal on admission, so my mom's been meaning to treat us on an outing and realized that we're running out of time—fast! So today was the day!

We piled into our minivan around 10:00 this morning—me, my mom, Auntie Josie, and the kids—and drove to Salt Lake to meet my dad at the zoo. The kids rode the whole way up (there wasn't any fighting in the backseat...once they all got settled).

There were giraffes right at the front gates and there were clearly different species (or sub-species) within the enclosure—they had markedly different patterns—which is something I hadn't really considered before (that there are multiple kinds of giraffes). I don't know why. I just...hadn't. But there are.

One is a reticulated giraffe and the other is a baringo (which is the most endangered sub-species). It was neat to see them standing so close together because clearly they were not the same (and I realize that every giraffe has a unique pattern on their body, but there are distinguishable "rules" for the patterns within a given species—some are jagged, some well-defined, etc).

Speaking of patterns, when Zoë heard we were going to the zoo she quickly pulled out her leopard print tunic, her leopard print leggings, and her leopard print shoes. She looked spectacular (and her outfit got several compliments from amused zoo patrons).

Here she is standing in front of the amur leopard habitat (the leopard is actually somewhere above her left shoulder in those bushes). One mother scared her kids by saying, "Oh, no! The leopard is out of its cage. Look!" And then she told them she was just kidding; it was only "that little girl." And that was the only time Zoë was pleased with someone complimenting her outfit (all the other times she just "didn't want to talk about it" even though she'd coordinated it specifically for this outing).

She'd switched to shorts by this time in our trip for a romp in the splash pad
Anyway, here's Benjamin by the giraffes:

There were fun recycled-art projects throughout the zoo (trying to shame us all (and rightly so, even though domestic recycling efforts are somewhat pointless) into recycling):

The kids enjoyed looking at the animals, it's true, but I think they enjoyed climbing on the animal statues even more. Here they are climbing on a rhino:

Benjamin and Alexander

Zoë and Bumpa

Zoë working really hard to climb up the rhino's back by herself

Alexander loving the "birdie, birdie, birdie!"
Interesting thing about rhinos: they have three toes. So, of course, I came home and looked up King Rataxes to see how many fingers he's drawn with and he has four in the animated television series, which is rather disappointing hard would it be to just draw three? It seems like the pictures in the original books have three-toed rhinos.

I'm still annoyed the Llama Llama has front teeth, which is probably why I felt called to count the toes of a fictional rhinoceros. It doesn't really matter.

Zoë, Benjamin, and Alexander

Alexander and...Rachel

All the kids

All the kids
 Here's everybody checking out a peacock:

Here are the kids playing at the splash pad. I didn't know the zoo had a splash pad but I packed extra clothes for my younger three, assuming that if there was water anywhere my children would most definitely romp in it. They all got soaking wet, of course. Alexander was the most wet, followed up by Rachel and Benjamin, then Zoë, and then Miriam. Zoë changed out of her pants and Alexander got a complete wardrobe change but the other kids just air dried (even though I had a change of pants for Benjamin).

Zoë in leopard print, Benjamin in green sweats
Alexander's favourite thing was sticking his face in the jets of water. He thought it was hilarious, the little fish.

This big spray was accompanied by a roaring/whooshing sound that would startle all the kids and send them scuttling and screaming:

Every time it went off, Alexander get all panicky and say, "Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!" until he'd spot me. Then he'd give me a big smile and start playing again.

Here he is blowing bubbles in a little "tide pool" (it had fake starfish and other creatures in it):

Wet and happy

Wet and...whatever this is

Wet and happy

Hey, look! I got all five of my kids in the same shot!

I fear an unfair amount of the camera's attention was focused on Alexander, but that's because most of my attention was focused on him and making sure he (a) didn't drown and (b) didn't wander off and get lost (it doesn't hurt that he's (c) pretty darn cute)).

I wasn't as worried about losing the other kids (and in fact I didn't lose any of them, just for the record) because we talked about what to do if they got lost. The plan is that they should (1) sit down wherever they are and (2) look lost until someone asks them if they are lost and then they should (3) say, "Yes, I am. May I please use your cell phone to call my mom?"

The three older kids know my number by heart (I made them all repeat it to me before we even got out of the van). Zoë doesn't know my number so I wrote it on her leg and told her to show it to someone if she got lost. I didn't write my phone number on Alexander...but maybe I should have because he can't talk well enough to tell anybody anything.

In all honesty, though, I would notice if he wasn't with me pretty much right away. There is quite a lot of truth to that "Can a mother forget her sucking child?" scripture. It's really hard to forget about a nursling and not only because they demand milk every twenty minutes, but because they're so small and helpless—yet astoundingly good at getting themselves into perilous situations—that they're very much at the forefront of your mind.

Anyway, we left the zoo with the same number of children we arrived with and even managed to help reunite a lost child with her caregivers. There was a lost little girl at the otter exhibit, just sitting on a bench crying. Several mothers were milling about, pumping her for information, but not with much luck. She was too little to give out much information.

So Auntie Josie called the zoo and I ran off to the closest kiosk and alerted the employee, who radioed security, and we had the whole problem solved in a matter of minutes (which makes me wonder why all those panicking mothers didn't think to whip out their cell phones or run to a kiosk—because the zoo has pretty efficient protocols for this sort of the thing (that happens all the time (and I'm not even saying that to make myself feel better about all the times I've lost my own kids))).

Anyway, I was glad that Zoë had my phone number on her leg just in case she got lost and needed to call me.

Miriam wasn't as excited about getting soaking wet as everyone else was

I love how Alexander was "helping" Zoë put her face in the water. He's like, "See?! It's fun!!"

Believe it or not, this is a happy face. It's a happy I-have-water-up-my-nose face, but it's a happy face.

Our next stop was the bird show, which was fabulous. Alexander was beside himself with joy the whole time. He couldn't stop shouting "BIRDIE!" unless it was to interject the odd "OWL!" before yelling "BIRDIE!" some more.

I love how the girl in the background is also pointing out some birds

I made Rachel hold him before I changed his clothes because she was just as soaking wet as he was. Zoë sat with Bumpa for the first half of the show (and my mom has a better picture of them, which she sent me, but it's on my phone and I haven't taken pictures off my phone yet).

Here's Alexander getting excited for the show:

And here he is back on Rachel's lap after I changed his clothes:


 This was Miriam's favourite part of the show—the releasing of the doves:

Here we are with one of the bald eagles at the end of the show:

And here are the eagles being transported back to their habitat after the show:

Here are my kids climbing on a fence (that only led to a train enclosure, not a wild animal enclosure):

Here's Naanii taking a minute to orient herself (and, by extension, all of us):

This picture is of our entire crew (except me):

It looks candid but it's partially posed because my kids can't stand it when I run ahead to snap a picture. I always tell them something like, "I'm going to run ahead and take a picture so just stay back here and walk normally."

But they always panic when I start jogging ahead and are like, "Quick! Everybody! Run! She's getting away!!"

(Which reminds me, we heard a little girl (not mine, for once) loudly proclaim in a very crowded plaza, "Hey, everybody! I have to go pee!" and her poor mother turned beet red, scooped her up, and bustled to the toilets. It was hilarious).

And then I have to say, "No! Guys. Listen. I'm running ahead. You just keep walking. Got it?"

Here are Benjamin and Zoë at an iconic (yet sadly defunct) water fountain:

Here's Alexander admiring a snow leopard:

He walked into the viewing room and squealed, "Kitty cat!" and the zookeeper was like, "Sure...kitty cat..."

Thank goodness the glass was there or Alexander would have had the worst kitty snuggle of his lifetime.

Here's Zoë blending in with the leopard again (you can hardly tell them apart):

The observation room was in this fun little hut:

Just beyond that was a red panda exhibit, and there was a little panda out sunning itself and we had such a perfect view of it:

My dad had to leave after that, but the rest of us kept going strong. We visited the "small animal" house where Alexander pointed at a lot of things and where I learned that porcupines have eerily humanoid ears.

I'm sorry...but what are those!?!?!!/!

Some of the exhibits in the small animal house had kid-friendly windows, but an astounding number did not so the two littlest ones got a little bored and started monkeying around.

This, despite our best efforts to help them see into all the windows!

We wandered into the "Rocky Shores" exhibit just in time for sea lion training time, so we sat down to watch that, which was a huge mistake because it was then that we all started to realize how utterly exhausted we were.

Still, we pressed forward after the show to see the bears before calling it a day (we never did find the foxes, which I feel terribly about because those are Rachel's favourite animal and she specifically asked to find them, but that was before we all realized how tired we were at the seals...the foxes were supposed to be somewhere around the bears, I think... Sorry, Rachel). Here's Zoë climbing on the polar bear statues (we didn't see the polar bears in their exhibit so who knows where they were hanging out).

And here are the rest of the kids:

And here we are looking at the polar bear's seemingly empty tank and feeling exhausted:

Except perhaps this little fellow, who seems to be feeling impish:

We had to stop to see the rhinos on our way out because they were up galumphing around instead of lazing around in the dirt. And then we had to stop to see the elephants again because they were feeding and it was interesting.

We took a few pictures in front of the elephant statue:

Zoë tried to hop from elephant footprint to elephant footprint (it was harder than she thought):

Here I am holding my sweet baby Rachel:

And here's my sweet baby Rachel holding me:

And here I am holding my sweet little boys:

And I really should have taken a picture holding Miriam, but I didn't (and now I feel badly about that, too, so I guess we'll have to go to the zoo again another time) because Zoë was having a meltdown, alerting us to the fact that it was definitely time to go:

It was a long, hot, wonderful, exhausting day! We finished it off with dinner at McDonald's, but I was surprised when I woke up at the McDonald's in Spanish Fork! I felt like I had just dozed off in the van but I must have taken a pretty decent nap!

Because Daddy had been left out of our zoo trip, I texted him to let him know where we were and he came and joined us for dinner (my mom didn't want to wake the sleeping middle row—Alexander, Zoë and I all conked out—and the back seat were all enthralled with their reading material, so my mom decided to just press on until we were nearly home).

I'm so glad we could spend the day with my parents and sister, and squeeze in some more memories before we spread our wings again.

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