By February 7, 2011

First Trip to the Minnesota Zoo

One of the things I liked about living in Richmond was the zoo. I made fun of it for being low-rent and old school, but I really liked being able to get up close to the animals. I like taking pictures of the animals, so snuggling up is a big advantage.

I recently went to the Minnesota Zoo. Despite being called the “new zoo” by Minneapolis lifers, the zoo was built in 1978. The Minnesota Zoo has a really neat layout, with a lot of the exhibits outside but plenty of indoor stuff, too. That’s a big draw at this time of year, when we are currently under a -35° F wind chill advisory.

So, Sedagive? and I packed the kids up this weekend to go look at the animals. Here are some of my favorite photos.

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One thing that surprised me were the number of animals standing around in the cold. Granted, it was a “warm” 20° F before the wind chill, but there were still a buttnest of animals wandering around outside. Some didn’t surprise me, like the bears. However, most of the big cats looked very uncomfortable. The two tigers at the zoo seemed to pace in the same 5″ x 12″ strip of bare ground as if stepping on any snow would freeze them in place.

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These bears didn’t give a shit about the weather. They were busy practicing their arm bars and triangle chokes.

I’ve told a lot of people that the Minneapolis area is a lot like Richmond, Virginia — just a lot larger in scale. The Minnesota Zoo is another example. A big draw in Richmond is being able to pet giraffes. Minneapolis jumbo-sizes that concept and puts visitors very, very close to the animals. I see you giraffe and raise you a big ass bear:

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My favorite part of the zoo was the sea otter. There were a pair of them in the enclosure, but one guy in particular seemed particularly interested in visitors. Sedagive’s? older son Gojira waved at the otter and got his attention:

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Next thing I knew they were running back and forth across the length of the glass, chasing each other. Whenever Gojira would stop, the otter would jump into the air or do flips underwater.

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This lasted for several minutes until Gojira became tired. He instructed a little girl how to run with the otter, and our flippered friend continued playing.

The Minnesota Zoo was a lot of fun. There are several areas that are more kid-sized; little tunnels, caves and sub-exhibits that are only accessible to smaller people. I think this is a really great idea as it not only keeps kids active but speaks plainly as to the zoo’s purpose: get kids involved in nature early so they can help protect it as adults.

There were a few rough patches to the zoo, most notably a lone dolphin swimming slowly in a small tank. It made me really sad, as I’ve played with them in the Atlantic ocean and know how fleet and active they are. I was assured by Sedagive? that there was a larger enclosure system for them, with other things for them to do. Regardless, it was a downer during an otherwise fun day. I look forward to going back.

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