Thursday, April 30, 2020

Z is for Zoo

My husband is not a huge fan of zoos, but he will humor me and go on occasion (when you have kids, you kind of have to go to zoos, don't you?). 

It's not a long list. We've been to the Santa Barbara Zoo (built on a hill above the ocean and the best smelling zoo you'll ever go to), Tulsa Zoo, Omaha's Henry Doorly zoo (amazing gorilla exhibit), Oklahoma City Zoo (in the dead of winter, while our son was interviewing for medical school), the Zoo at Grassmere Park in Nashville (one of the prettiest, with gorgeous bamboo-lined paths), Swope Park Zoo in Kansas City (also went there on my first grade field trip), and the Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Missouri. 

Dickerson Park Zoo isn't very big at 55 acres (most bigger zoos are at least 100 acres). but it's a nice little zoo that was started in 1923. It was expanded in the 1930s by the Works Progress Adminstration (my dad remembers going there as a little kid), but little was done to it after that until the late 1980s, and over the next 20 years, the zoo was improved to the little gem it is now. It has a terrific river otter exhibit in the North American area. They also have a raptor rehabilitation program where you might see an injured bald eagle that is undergoing treatment before being released.

In 1984, the Halloween Spooktacular was launched. It was begun in an effort to get more people to the zoo during the slower fall season and held in the days leading up to Halloween. Decorations were set up throughout the grounds, the zoo stayed open into the evening, and kids could come to the zoo in costume and trick or treat.

We took our kids when my daughter was around 3 and my son around 7. The only real downside to the evening was that the animal enclosures weren't lighted, being as visiting a zoo is ordinarily a day time activity, and it was difficult to see the animals.

The exception was the giraffe house. During the day, the giraffes are outside, but in the evening (and in cold weather), they go inside their (very tall) house, and you can go inside and see them. What makes this even better is that the giraffes are really quite close to you when you're inside the house.

The four of us were watching the giraffes when one of them came to the edge of his enclosure and stretched his neck as far as he could to look at my husband. They stood there, man and giraffe, each marveling at the other. My husband would tip his head to the right, and the giraffe would mirror him. He'd tip it the other way, and the giraffe would do the same thing. It was a cute moment.

"I've never been this close to a giraffe before," my husband said, eyes still locked on the giraffe's. The words were no more out of his mouth when the giraffe quite suddenly went, "ACHOOOOOOOOOOO!" directly into my husband's face.

As we howled with laughter, my husband slowly turned towards us. His glasses were utterly and completely coated with a film of giraffe snot.

It was the best zoo visit EVER!

Zoo Animals :: Dickerson Park Zoo - Clip Art Library
One of Dickerson Park's giraffes. A lot of velocity can be
created from the lungs all the way up that neck and out the nose.


  1. Your poor husband although I'll admit it had me laughing.

    When my husband and I were on our honeymoon we went to the zoo in Monte Carlo and I remember being surprised because one of their big exhibits was of guinea pigs. Growing up and having one as a pet I never thought of it as a zoo exhibit.

    For years, it was the strangest thing to me and then this summer on a trip to New Brunswick Canada and our visit to their local zoo we saw our second exhibit of guinea pigs. I guess maybe it's a thing.

    Weekends In Maine

  2. Dyanne
    In 1981 e were at the San Diego zoo at the gorilla exhibit. The big female walked back and forth in front the crowd when she picked up gorilla poop. She continued to walk back and forth. I told mom we better move way back because she was going to throw that poop. We got back just in time and those poor folks in front got pelted with gorilla poop-clearly our families were meant to be connected.

  3. Wow... you've been to a lot of zoos! Your poor husband! hahaha... that would be tough to recover from... giraffe snot all over the face. Ugh.

  4. Yuck. I don't like zoos anyway and that would have finished it for me!
    Congrats on finishing the A to Z. I enjoyed following your posts.