We first took the girls to the zoo in October 2011, when they were about three months shy of turning three years old.
Everything was new, for all of us, and it was such a blissful family experience.
We decided then to buy a membership to the zoo. If we went just one more time in the next 12 months, it would pay for itself.
Little did we know at that time what a big part of our lives the zoo would become!
The zoo is a little more than an hour's drive south of our town. It's such an easy Saturday outing...we load up after breakfast, walk through about half of the zoo, and stop for a snack. We finish the remainder of the zoo, and then head to lunch. We occasionally do some shopping afterwards, taking advantage of the "big city" while we're there. The girls nap in the car, and then we still have time to relax at home before supper.
On average, we're at the zoo about every 6 weeks. We've also used our membership for free or reduced admission at a number of zoos in surrounding states.
Even when we visit our zoo, which we now know backwards and forwards, there's always something new and interesting to see.
A few visits ago, we saw an elephant picking up a big log, tossing it about, over and over.
One time this giraffe seemed to be fixated on Baby A, coming right up to the edge of the enclosure, looking directly at her.
We still talk about seeing the meerkats -- every single one of them -- looking in the exact same direction.
Last visit we got to see the clouded leopard cubs playing with a bucket...they were so adorable!
...we happened to catch the zookeeper bringing the hornbill rhinoceros out of his cage. We learned his name is Zack, and he likes to play with baby toys. The girls delighted in seeing his rattle and squeaky toy. The zookeeper kept telling him, "Zack, you're a silly boy!" as he kept trying to fly back in his cage, and the girls thought that was all kinds of funny. We learned he weighs about six pounds, which is less than our cat Sasha!
It may be the same zoo, but we have yet to tire of the experience. Even traversing the same footpaths, knowing exactly what to expect around each bend, there's something new every time.