The first trip to the Columbus Zoo I remember was with my kindergarten class. I remember that trip for two reasons: I remember eating lunch in the big shelter house with all my friends, and I remember seeing a giraffe eat from a tree. Up until recently, that was probably the most active I’d ever seen animals at the zoo and the most fun I’ve ever had there in the past 25 years of going.
The perfect recipe
This past Saturday it was beautiful outside. Not too hot, not too cold, sunny with a light breeze. Perfect. After a pancake breakfast we decided it was a good day to go to the Columbus Zoo. It was also college football Saturday and the home game started at 3:30p in the afternoon so we planned to start our zoo day about an hour before kickoff.
One good thing about living in college football town is that everyone schedules their day around a football game. That’s great for football fans but it’s also great for those of us that don’t care about football because it means we can plan our day just as easily…only we’ll be going to places the fans are not, which is anywhere that isn’t in front of their television.
The zoo wasn’t busy at all. Sure, there were herds of families and strollers but we’ve been to the zoo when it’s been wall-to-wall people and it’s just no fun. And after an hour or so, the zoo was virtually empty as the football game had started and those that cared about the game had already left, children in tow. And I’m not sure if it was because it was a nice day to be outside or that we just happened to get there around feeding time, but the animals were out and about and it was awesome.
We usually get to the zoo once each year and it always seems that the day we plan on going it’s either too cold so the animals are all inside, or too hot and they’re all in inside. Or if they’re outside they’re just sleeping and not doing much. But this day was the exact opposite. I like to think it was because we didn’t plan this trip at all, it was really a last minute decision, but regardless, it was the best day at the zoo I’ve ever had.
That’s not to say there weren’t annoying parents and children running around, you can’t avoid them at a zoo, but they were few and you can always count on short attention spans. As I stood there watching the brown bear walk around and eat, it occurred to be that if I was 7-years-old like the boy standing next to me, I would have gotten anxious in two minutes or less, wanting to move on to the next thing. This was great for us because if a loud kid showed up and banged on the glass, we knew he’d be gone in a few minutes, so we could just stand there and watch the show, admiring nature’s biggest beauties. You just had to outlast the child…or the tolerance of their parents.
Perks of being an adult
It made me really happy to be an adult. Your ability to appreciate and enjoy things as someone older than the age of 16 is a wonderful thing. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to the zoo or Disney World (which is MUCH better as a grown up), you just have the ability to understand the scope of things. I’m not saying I had some sort of ultra zen moment or anything. I’m not going to start camping in the woods and picking flowers, but the day at the zoo was just perfect and the best since that class field trip when I was five years old.
The day also made me realize that the Columbus Zoo is a big, big zoo. We spent a little over three hours at the zoo and had to skip several things. Of course, we did spend a lot of time watching the animals that were actually doing stuff, like the polar bears, pandas, gorillas and even the bats flying foxes. Mountain goats were playing, elephants were swaying and eagles were picking. Assuming you don’t spend three minutes at each location thanks to a small child, you can easily spend two days going to the zoo. It’s just that big and I think it finally hit me just how nice of a zoo we have. I haven’t been to many zoos in the world but I doubt this trip can be beat at any other zoo. Everything just lined up nicely that day.
Since the crowd at the zoo was minimal, it also let me take some great photos and videos. From bears to monkeys to pandas, every creature had something to share. You can see more of the photos over on my Flickr page.