Monday, August 3, 2009

People watching at the zoo

Photo credit: jennifrog

I love Taronga Zoo. I took my two youngest children there last week.

It’s like a little piece of Australian bush in the city except that you can also find zebras, lions, giraffes and elephants, turkey and hawks and hundreds of other wonderful creatures there which you can't find in the bush or the outback. Hopefully not anyway.

You get spectacular and unique views of our gorgeous harbour and cityscape. The Concert Garden is always beautiful.

And there is Luk Chai, a new, playful little elephant calf there, the first born in Australia. And cheeky chimps. And sleek, muscular snakes, possums and wombats and little monkeys that dangle from the trees almost over people’s heads.
(I could go on but I’m reminded here of the fantastic zoo description in The Life of Pi, and so I’d better stop before I embarrass myself any more.)

Neither of the littlies had ever been before. And it was the two of them, more than the zoo's residents, I watched and was entertained by.

I was pretty confident Hannah would love it (you can never be too sure with kids) but my big surprise was that I didn’t’ expect little Joey would enjoy himself as much as he did.

He wasn’t content to stay in his stroller when I lifted his sister to peer over the enclosure rails; he really wanted to see all the animals too.

He exclaimed over the peaceful giraffes and the new baby elephant, he cooed at the rabbits and guinea pigs, and he ran his eager hands along the rugged stone walls which graced some of the pathways.

Most of the larger animals are in enclosures which are designed to approximate their natural environment as much as possible.

But we got to see many up close. In some parts, such as the Wild Australia section there are really large enclosures for people to walk through and get up close to animals such as wallabies, kangaroos and a huge variety of birds from humble budgerigars to huge emus.
Hannah was keen to see kangaroos, koalas and rabbits, and so I made sure we saw them at the end so she was content go home. We spent two and half hours there, walking up and down inclines for much of it.

"My legs are getting sore, mummy!" She cheerfully exclaimed a couple of times as she stamped up particularly steep bits. She is such a little trooper.

I had left my camera at home, and in the excitement about getting Hannah to see the animals, after a long drive and queuing to get in, I didn’t even think of ducking into the souvenir shop near the entrance to get a disposable camera.

So I have to commit to memory the one image I really want to remember – her expression when she got her first glimpse of the first large animals, the giraffes, up close.

At least it's not so hard to engrave that little, dreamily expectant, shiny-eyed half smile on my heart.

A trip to the zoo is obviously a learning experience much as a fun one. But then any outing with my children is learning experience, for them and for me.

I usually find that they are capable of doing much more than I have given them credit for or expected them to be able to cope with.

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  1. Taronga zoo is one of the best places I have ever been. I think I was only about 10 when we went there but it had a lasting impression on me. I remember asking my mother everytime we went back to Melboure if we were going to Taronga zoo but I don't remember going again.

  2. I took my boys to Taronga zoo when we were in Sydney for a holiday over the Easter break.
    They enjoy the zoo when they're teenagers, too.

  3. Therese I hope you get to take your kids there one day, but you're already surrounded by natural beauty where you live aren't you?

    Frogdancer, thanks for visiting. And for giving me hope that my kids will still want to hang out with me when they're teenagers!


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