Knowing that she would be doing a lot of entertaining this summer, my sister Kelli bought a fancy-schmancy pass to the zoo that allowed her a generous number of guest passes, so she treated our family to zoo visit while we were out in Utah. (Later she'd take her daughter Amy and Amy's three kids, as well as some other grandkids to the zoo; she sure is a lot of fun!)
We haven't been to the zoo since June 2019—right before we moved to Georgia—the trip that ignited Alexander's passion for all things owl. He's been quite the strigiformesphile ever since!
At first I thought it was interesting that we always take pictures of the giraffes when we very first get to the zoo, but then I realized that they're the first major attraction after the entrance, so it only makes sense to start with them.
So here we are looking at the giraffes:
As a little side note, we took the kids "back to school" shopping today, something we technically haven't done since 2019. It was an expensive trip! But Andrew reminded me to take a deep breath and divide the total cost by six (the number of children) and then to divide that cost by four (the number of years it had been since we last went clothes shopping) because when you parse the cost out like that...really we didn't spend that much.
All that is to say that the Benjamin of today still has—and wears—these green sweat pants that Benjamin of 2019 is wearing in the picture below:
To be fair, they're a bit big on Benjamin here, but considering Benjamin is only six in the picture above...we probably should be passing those pants on to Alexander by this point in history. They've got holes in the knees, though, so they'll probably end up being passed down as shorts rather than full-length pants.
And not to confuse everybody, but Alexander (below) wore the same colour of shirt to the zoo this year that Benjamin (above) wore in 2019. I had to do a bit of a double take!
Here are some of my goofy kids trying out the lion drinking fountains (which were all working this year (they were not working in 2019)):
And here they are climbing on the lion statues:
You can see the real lion just below Alexander's hand here:
Zoë was, of course, most excited about the gorillas—her favourite animal (for the time being).
Here she is with a gorilla just beyond the glass:
And here she is seeing how long her arms are compared to a gorilla....
...along with Benjamin...
...and Rachel (who thinks quite highly of her Ape Index, unlike her father's (which is shorter than he thought)).
Here are Alexander and Zoë watching the gorillas with Uncle Allen and Auntie K:
We passed by the gorilla habitat again during feeding time and it was fun to watch them eat. Phoebe was jealous that they got to have balls (they had snacks stuffed inside the balls), while she was left on the other side of the fence with no balls! Rude!
Uncle Allen helped Alexander climb onto this rhino (it's tough statue to climb, apparently, because my little kids needed help with it in 2019 as well)!
Here are the kids seeing if they could weigh as much as an elephant (I think I was also standing on the scale, otherwise I don't see how those four alone could add up to 300+ pounds!)
I believe the elephants are Auntie K's favourite thing to see at the zoo (if I'm remembering correctly). Sadly (or fortunately) the elephants at this zoo will be leaving sometime in the early fall to join a herd at a larger zoo (I think they're hoping for some baby elephants that way).
Here's just a cute picture of Phoebe pointing to something. She loved all the animals!
And here are the kids playing in this log feature (Phoebe is on the left and Alexander is on the right, fighting to see who gets to look through the hole):
And here are the kids climbing through and around the log (Benjamin going through, Zoë on top):
Phoebe and Alexander crawling through while Zoë and Auntie K peek through at them:
Phoebe, who loves water and fish, seemed partial to the sea lion exhibit. Here we are watching the sea lions from above:
They were huge (I know this guy doesn't look it, but he was huge):
And here we are looking (and looking and looking) at the sea lions from below:
At least there was plenty of seating in the shade for the rest of us to enjoy while we waited for Phoebe to get her fill of the sea lions. Here's Alexander sitting with Naanii (I think he was feeling skeptical of ever getting to leave).
Benjamin finally went down to coax Phoebe away from the sea lions:
At some point we stopped for lunch. Kelli had planned for a picnic, but as far as I knew it was a bring-your-own picnic. But then my mom said that since Kelli was covering the entrance fee for the zoo that she would go ahead and just buy people lunch there. So we didn't pack a picnic...and instead just ended up sharing Kelli's picnic because she packed a lot! She had been expecting to bring Mercedes and Bentley (two of her grandkids) with her, so packed enough for them and herself and Allen and a small army! She had pasta salad and vegetables and fruit and all sorts of things. She was so kind to share with everyone...though perhaps it was really a kindness to her that we ate her food because she'd been carting it around all day (well, she and Allen and Josie had been carting it around all day) and I'm sure the cooler was lighter after we'd all filled our bellies.
Let's see...here's Miriam and Alexander on a rope bridge:
And now Zoë and Alexander and Benjamin:
Even Daddy went across with Phoebe (this bridge wasn't as high as the bridge at the aquarium):
And here's a shot of my dad with the kids:
We saw polar bears:
(My apologies to Andrew...but my dad and Phoebe are both cute in this picture. You're at least cute in the picture above...)
I think these must be tiger statues:
We took a picture of Bumpa and Naanii with all six of my kids:
It seems like noontime was feeding time for a lot of the zoo animals, and it sure was fun to get to see the enrichment activities involved with the animals' eating.
The food is often given in puzzles for the animals to work through in order to "earn" their meal. Except for the meerkats. There was no puzzle for the meerkats; instead they are given live food, and we got to help!
The zookeeper came out and handed out mealworms to anyone who wanted one:
And then everyone was prompted to count to three and when we got to three, the zookeeper yelled, "Toss that bug!" and everyone chucked their mealworm into the meerkat enclosure for the meerkats to hunt.
After that we all needed a drink...from the lion's mouth again (there are multiple lion water fountains at the zoo; this wasn't the same fountain as before):
After we visited the reptile, bird, and small mammal houses, the kids stopped at this exhibition booth where they got to see a porcupine quill and a roseate spoonbill feather.
The zookeeper was rather surprised when they kids told her that they'd found loads of roseate spoonbill feathers.
"Where did you find those?!" she asked.
"Where did you find those?!" she asked.
I explained that we were visiting from Georgia and had recently spent a week at a beach along the Florida coast, where we found several pink feathers (and because the only pink birds we saw while we were there were roseate spoonbills, we assumed that's where the feathers came from).
We made a quick stop by the splash pad before leaving the zoo. My children were quizzically anti-splash this particular day.
Phoebe had no qualms about getting in. But Alexander was worried about getting his clothes wet (even though I assured him that I had packed dry clothes for him and that's never stopped him from getting wet before). Zoë and Benjamin were just plain grumpy by this point (it's a miracle Auntie K invited them to come on a longer adventure with her). And Miriam and Rachel are too mature to get wet at the zoo, I guess.
Anyway, the kids were being such stinkers that Andrew and I (the trickers that we are), told Zoë and Alexander to at least go stand on that rock formation over there for a picture...
Little did they know, that rock formation was really a "geyser"...
Boy, were they mad about that! (Sorry, kiddos.) Here's Alexander angrily informing me that "now my pants are wet!"
And here's Phoebe happily splashing in a puddle:
We took the grumpy kids as a sign that it was time to go, having seen most of the zoo, anyway. There was just one more thing we had. to find—over by the elephant enclosure. We'd already looked at the elephants, but didn't go around to the other side where the elephant statue is!
Rachel and I have a tradition of taking a picture in front of the elephant, and it is a tradition that is getting harder and harder to pull off! Here we are in 2008, 2019, and this year:
And here are some close up shots of this year:
Here's our family all together:
Here we are with Uncle Allen and Auntie K:
And here we are with Auntie Josie and Naanii (except...not me...because I think I took this picture):
After the zoo we were all beat—and were looking forward to just going home and relaxing—so I was surprised when Kelli suggested that she take Benjamin and Zoë off for further adventures. They had a blast with her, though, and the rest of us got the...rest...that we needed.
Benjamin and Zoë were out rather late with Kelli. She dropped them off just as Auntie Josie arrived at Linda and Trevor's with the telescope she checked out from the library.
First of all, how fun that the Orem Public Library has telescopes you can check out!?!
Second of all, how wonderful is it to have such fun aunts?! We're so lucky!