Molly and I had a great time with her class visiting the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore last month, but Jen and Leah missed out. So, when we tried to think of some family fun to do for Jen's birthday (which is actually today), the zoo was an easy choice. We're fortunate to have two great zoos within driving distance, so this time we went to the National Zoo down in Washington. It's a great zoo and, since it's part of the Smithsonian, admission is free (though you do have to pay for parking).
One of the highlights was the Giant Pacific Octopus. We made it to the Invertebrate Exhibit in time to see them feed it, and it was very cool. We lingered there for some time. I eventually started asking Molly if she was ready to move on, but every time I asked her, she said no. Eventually, we had to just tell her it was time to go, as Leah had been patient enough.
While Molly and Leah weren't really into the reptile house, they did enjoy these tortoises. The little turtles around weren't interesting to them, but the giant ones were lots of fun.
Of course, a zoo visit isn't complete without a morning snack break.
Undoubtedly, Leah's favorite animal was the elephant. We got to see this one up close. Also, note the people in the background looking down toward this elephant. A few minutes later, we ended up at the top of the hill and got to see the elephants from a different angle.
Leah kept pointing and saying "el-phant" over and over. She was not happy when it was time to move on from the elephants.
Molly's favorite animal was the panda. We didn't get to see one in the outdoor habitat, as they were hiding themselves well, but this one had come inside to cool off. I think it has the right idea.
Molly really enjoyed the trip. After several hours of walking around, she was still smiling. It's a big zoo. We moved pretty quickly and still didn't get to see everything.
We told Molly she could either get a toy or a treat at the end of our visit. She said she had a lot of toys, so she'd go for a treat. She selected some Dippin' Dots. Leah ate hers much more quickly than Molly, then of course wanted some more. Here's Molly being a very sweet big sister and sharing hers with Leah.
One interesting attribute of the National Zoo is that you can enter at lots of points throughout the campus. There's no gate to go through (which only works because it's free). We entered at the bottom (there's more than 14 stories of elevation change from one end to the other), and found this to be an excellent plan. It meant that when it was time to leave, we weren't trudging uphill the entire way.
It was a great trip and we'd definitely do it again. The zoo is really well done. They seem to try very hard to ensure that you can get close to the animals to observe them, which really improves the experience. I commented to Jen at the prairie dog exhibit that we could easily have reached down and picked one up.
Oh, and Happy Birthday Jen!