The word for the day is: ZOO.
Have I shared how much I love the (Phoenix) Zoo?
We are in our 3rd year of membership (and will actually be renewing to year 4 in the next month or so), and it is the best membership we’ve ever had. It all started with an idea of “practicality.” About a year after Will was born, Lynn and I realized that we could no longer easily serve on the same committees for our annual (regional) conference. Instead, we opted to trade off and ensure that one of us would be with the kid(s) while the other attended conference meetings.
Which led to another idea: the Phoenix Zoo is not far from our annual conference headquarters, so why not try getting a membership? That way, when one of us had a morning meeting (usually 10 to noonish), the other could take Will to the zoo for the morning.
Well, we did that a few times in the spring of 2008, and then the weather got hot and we didn’t attend much during the summer. That year, though, the weather cooled down enough in mid-August to visit the zoo, so on Friday (my day off) we took Will. The next week, we went a second time. The next morning, he asked to go to the zoo. It was one of the first words he learned and regularly used, a simple questioning look and a “zoo?” And he asked again the next day. And the next. We didn’t go, but promised we’d go again on Friday. And we did.
After that, he asked again, and again, and again, to go. So we went the next Friday. And again the next Friday. And then the following week. All told, with the exception of the three weeks we were on vacation, we visited the Phoenix Zoo every Friday morning from August of 2008 through May of 2009! Lynn was pregnant during the last few months of this now-legendary run, but we still went weekly – to the point that at least one staff member who was almost always in the Squirrel Monkey enclosure (we initially only knew her as “monkey lady,” but later learned her name was Deidre) knew us by sight (and this was before Will’s legendary yellow boots, which arrived in May of ’09). In fact, when Will and I visited without Lynn not long after Kate’s birth, she asked about her.
The following year – after summer temps cooled down and Kate was old enough to go out – we began to go regularly again. We haven’t quite gotten into the same every-week rhythm that we had, but we go as often as we can. Now that Will is in preschool, it’s harder (he has class on Fridays), but tomorrow there is no class. So when we asked Will what he wanted to do, he asked, “is it Friday?” We answer that it is, and he exclaims, “Zoo!”
We love the zoo. Will’s current favorite is the “frogs and snakes” (in the Arizona Trail exhibit). I love lingering in the Squirrel Monkey enclosure, where you can actually go down in with 16 female and 2 male monkeys named after Star Trek characters (I don’t know all the girls, but the boys are Picard and Q – there was a Spock but he was so smart he kept escaping!). We’ve fed Sam the giraffe (who, sadly, is no longer there), ridden on Dale the Camel, hear the lions roar, seen the tiger climb a tree, and watched one of the orangutans grow up as Will grows up.
We’ve seen many improvements (and some head-scratching changes – Lynn routinely wonders about removal of so much brush that gives shade), created bed-time stories about the Zoo and its denizens (one story, based on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, features the installation of a new main water line by the Land of the Dragons), and spent many, many hours enjoying one another’s company as we meander through the park. (We even got to ride in one of the four-person Zoobikes before they were all recently auctioned.)
Last year, on my birthday and Will’s half-birthday (I turned 35, he 3.5, we called it our 10-to-1 day), we went to… the Zoo.
I really don’t know what kind of memory Will and Kate will have of our repeated trips to the Zoo. But for now, they both get excited at the prospect and it turns into the best day off I can imagine – outdoors, walking, laughing. Who could ask for more?
We love the zoo.