For Christmas my parents gave the boys a family membership to the Minneapolis zoo. I had heard from a friend of mine that it was a great zoo and a good place to good even in the middle of winter and took her word for it when I made the suggestion. Today I decided that instead of diving back into our normal school routine (though I feel the need to get back to exercising) we would take advantage of the unseasonable temperature with a high of 44 degrees and make our first visit.
We were not disappointed. This is by far the best zoo I’ve ever visited and I don’t know which of us enjoyed it most. Unlike the zoos in Birmingham and Cincinnati, the ground is mostly flat–a great joy to people with short legs and mothers pushing multiple children in a stroller. It is organized is a few different trails with the length of each trail clearly marked on the map. Since it was warm, we did the longest of the trails, the Northern Trail first. The habitats were very aesthetic and arranged so the place where the animals inclined to be sleeping at the current time of day were sleeping at the front of the habitat. Lots of low-level windows made it easy for the smallest of my crew to spot, even from the stroller which was also appreciated by this momma who was glad not to have to lift five children up to see and get them in and out of the stroller. It is certainly friendly for winter visiting. The ticket booth is indoors and connected to both an aquarium section and the Tropical Trail which is just over a half of a mile long and completely indoors. The Minnesota Trail is also connected to this corridor. It is covered on top and has plastic sheeting on the open side which is put down in the winter to block the wind. There are plenty of benches and picnic tables throughout the zoo where you can watch the animals as you rest and a couple of play grounds for parents who need to rest but whose children don’t.
We arrived at the zoo shortly after 10:00 this morning and left at 2:30 with everyone in good spirits. The only complaints heard the whole day were petitions caused by the packed lunch and snacks hanging on the stroller. The bigger boys enjoyed the “secret passages” (tunnels with windows facing the animals scattered throughout the trails for little people to crawl through). They were all impressed by the Burmese Python that weighed as much as I do. Stephen liked the pronghorns, a North American animal that can run up to 60 miles an hour and see movement 4 miles away. Gabriel enjoyed the gibbons swinging from branch to branch. We were all impressed by the cacophony coming from a group of monkeys when we entered the Tropical Trail. It was some combination of screaming, barking, and growling that I didn’t know monkeys could make. Sebastian did a lot of pointing and jabbering, but his favorite exhibit was the sea otters. I did lift him up to see those and if I had let him he would have gladly jumped in with them. He squealed and jabbered and pointed and laughed. When it was time to move on I had to pry his fingers off the side where he was holding on. Jack enjoyed climbing on the many animal sculptures around the zoo.
The walking was good for us all. The boys all took a bit of a nap on the way home (Sebastian was asleep before we were out of the parking lot). It was a fantastic day and I already look forward to our return.