Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Franklin Park Zoo in the Rain

The rain was slapping against the windshield and we wondered what kid of idiot would head to the zoo in the rain? Our kind of idiot, as it turned out. There were only two other cars that weren't parked in front of the service entrance.

But the kids bolted from the car and ran, taking great care to splash through every puddle grinning like maniacs. It was nearly sixty degrees in February, and rain or not we were spending the morning outside.

We did our usual Franklin Park Zoo circuit. We go in through the giraffe entrance, and visit the cockroaches and the birds. Really, they have an exhibit with hissing cockroaches. They are the size of mint milanos and they always make me cringe.

Then the rain had let up and we splashed our way to the tropical rain forest where we spent a good hour watching the gorillas and running back and forth over indoor bridges. There's a sunken area meant to be kind of a theater with a tropical aquarium behind the stage. Kaylee and Eric climbed and jumped in there for ages.

By the time we had left the driving rain had been reduced to a pleasant warm mist on our faces and we tromped past only one or two other families to visit the grouchy lion alone in his enclosure. The zoo attendant said she had heard rumors that he might get a new companion, but it's very hard to introduce an old lion to a new companion without lots of problems. He's set in his way, I suppose like a Walter Matheu character. But Lions are not solitary animals. They live in Prides of up to 40 lions. It seems cruel to leave him alone. He just lays on his rock, roaring in his grouchy lion voice.

We said "Goodnight Lion" and wended our way down the hill on a walk that would take an adult no more than five minutes. But with so many puddles to stomp in, it took nearly a half hour.

But we came to the car, damp but triumphant. I love the Franklin Park Zoo.


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