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Zoo! Cam-uh! Cock! Gir-aah!

It was our 8th anniversary on Tuesday.  We celebrated by taking Little L to the zoo, which happens to be 45 minutes away on a good day (and 1.5 hours in traffic, which is when we decided to go).  I didn't think the pay-off would be worth the non-stop book reading and entertaining I had to do to ensure we didn't have a backseat meltdown.

But it was. So, so, worth it.

Let's face it: our local zoo is not amazing by global standards.  In fact, it's pretty sad.  The fake lions in the front are showing their age from the weathering of the elements; paint has begun chipping off.  The property is sprawling, but rather than be a lush oasis of eye candy, there's a lot of flat gravelly road reminiscent of someone's farm.  The space is peppered with fake animals to try to pretty up an otherwise-boring space, but these lovely looking lawn ornaments seem out of place with the badly-painted, amateurish-looking "main concession" building.  The mid-point concession building wasn't even open, and the bathrooms were locked.  There are no pretty signs at every intersection, and the busted, rusted "playground" area looks like it has been neglected over the past decade.

A far, far cry from our gorgeous, newly-renovated Aquarium.  Night and day.  City slicker vs. country bumpkin.  MacBook 2013 vs. old 386 with the large-pixel giant monitor.  That's honestly the comparison I would draw.  And we had to drive a bazillion miles to get there (okay, it wasn't quite that long, but it felt that long).

But with all of this in mind, it was still a fantabulous trip, because Little L loved the hour that we were there (yes, we managed to hit most of the animal attractions in an hour).  She is still talking about it two days later.  She will say, "ano day, cam-uh! Cock! Gir-aah! Blink.  Pan-uh-thuh. Lion sit! Gwass. Hippo!" We were happy to have seen the peacock in full strut, some bunnies, a lion sitting in the grass, a jaguar (that was black, and that I called a panther), a camel, two sleeping hippos, a cougar, a blinking giraffe, bald eagles, a zebra eager to feed, tons of deer and deer-type animals, an ostrich, and some nilgai that Little L waved hello to.

And now my kid cannot stop talking about it.  I suspect she wants to go back, because to her, this busted-down zoo was amazing.  It was her first time seeing these animals in person, and she was blown away by them.  I guess, when she reads zoo books and plays with zoo animals all day long, it's mind-blowing to see them live in front of your eyes.

So, moral of the story: take your toddlers to the zoo.  Even the busted zoo.  When they're this little, they will only notice the awesome. :)

PS - No pics, sorry.  We were too busy living life to snap shots of it.

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