January 2nd we all packed a lunch and headed back to Schönbrunn Palace, this time for a trip to the zoo. It is the oldest zoo in the world, established in 1752. We met up with friends who had been there many times before and acted as tour guides for us.
It was cold, so we spent most of the time in indoor exhibits: reptiles, insects, the rain forest, and the monkey house. Unlike American zoos, we could sit in the comfort of the exhibits and eat our lunch while we watched the animals around us.
Gabriel likes the monkeys. One the second floor of the money house were images famous paintings and other art that featured monkeys which was neat.
Stephen’s favorite were these aquatic animals I failed to learn the name of. He called them “mushroom thingys.” He took a really good picture, but it won’t load for some reason.
The animal highlight of the trip for me was the elephants. The zoo has 2 young elephants, 1 year and 5 years old, that were busy at play, wrapping their trunks together and pushing on each other with their heads. The older sister elephant came over at one point, apparently to keep the bigger of the 2 elephants from playing too rough. A zoo worker happened by while we were watching them and I learned more about elephants than I ever have known. The elephant herd is made up of the females and the young. Adult male elephants live on their own. Elephants only have 4 teeth which they change out 6 times. (Jack was truly impressed by this, exclaiming “4! I have 20!) They do not lose their teeth like humans though. Their teeth are big, so losing one outright would leave a huge hole in their mouth and only 2 teeth to chew and they would starve. Instead the new teeth grow in and the old ones gradually crumble away. If there 6th set were to wear out they would starve, but the elephant’s heart usually fails before then. There was more he said I’m sure, but it was cold and there were 7 children bouncing around me as I listened.
We watched some birds being fed. I miss birds! The boys pretended to be prairie dogs in some tunnels. We didn’t begin to see everything, but have a year long pass, so we will be back for more.