I had to endure three hours in the car, strange food, a fitful night’s sleep on a lumpy motel pillow, a sinus headache from the air conditioner in the motel room, a very, very long walk in the heat, plus a trek up a winding ramp to see this:
Was it worth it? Absolutely, without a doubt. I was so happy to see this baby it brought tears to my eyes. And the experience was made even sweeter by the comment of a little boy next to me: “I really love elephants! They are just so cute!” This one is cute indeed. Born in April, it is drawing huge crowds to the zoo.
Gary and I had not visited the Oklahoma City Zoo in many years and we were thrilled to see the new Asian Elephant Habitat. It is amazing! It covers 9.5 acres and has a large barn, several water features, play areas, and other amenities for the elephants, as well as a viewing area and pavilion for people. The pavilion/amphitheatre seats 400 people.
I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with zoos. On the one hand it is sad to see animals in captivity and to know that no matter what we do they are not living a “natural” life. But on the other hand, if it were not for the breeding and conservation efforts of zoos many animals would no longer exist. Man is overpopulating many natural habitats and driving animals into smaller and smaller areas. The elephant habitat is a shining example of how much zoos have improved just in my lifetime. Zoos have evolved over the years to be much more accommodating to the needs of the animals. No longer are animals kept in iron jails where they frantically pace back and forth. The natural settings at the OKC zoo are some of the best I’ve seen. Improvements range from bigger quarters to natural landscaping to details such as “green” water in the seal tanks. No longer are they swimming in highly chlorinated swimming pools just so we get a better view of them!
The OKC zoo also does a great job of accommodating people! There is lots, and lots of shade. There are benches and rest areas everywhere. Lots of restrooms and refreshment stands. Misting stations. A tram if you don’t feel like walking. Nearly every exhibit is wheelchair accessible. There is even a resting pavilion called “grandma’s porch”! lol My favorite aspect of the zoo is that it is also a designated botanical garden and has gorgeous landscaping! I saw several plants in the butterfly garden that I plan to add to my garden very soon. And it was great to see the “great ape’s garden” where they actually grow much of the food eaten by the residents of the zoo.
Later I’ll post more of the photos Gary took yesterday. Yes, he was the photographer for most of the day, while I just wandered around and enjoyed the exhibits. And I must say that I am proud of both of us for walking around nearly five hours without collapsing! My feet and legs aren’t even sore this morning. And I’m proud of Gary for enduring a few “too close” encounters with children. We were at the zoo with hundreds of children from various area “camps” and most of them were very, very exuberant.
I hope you get a chance to visit your favorite zoo this summer.