Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Yesterday I was looking at my kid, who was all bored and fussy and cabin feverish on a 73-degree, lightly breezy day, and I realized something: We could go to the Tulsa Zoo & Living Museum, right at that moment. There was nothing hold us back. He'd just had lunch and a nap, and I'd had my daily half-pot of coffee and (gasp!) a shower.
There was only one thing to do: Slather our translucent skin with SPF 50, head to QT for snacks and hit the trail to Tulsa's Mohawk Park, home of Tulsa Zoo. The zoo is easily accessible from the Sheridan Road exists off of Highway 11 and I-244. It's in Mohawk Park, just east of Sheridan Road on 36th Street North.
Many of the Tulsans I know consider this area "way out there," but even from south Tulsa, the drive to the zoo is just 15-20 minutes. Promise - I timed it myself.
Going to the Tulsa Zoo is a nostalgic thing for me. It was the setting for so many of my childhood experiences: the first time I saw a naked mole rat, the first time I threw up from eating too many shoestring potato thingies, the place where I chased boys into the cave in one of the Living Museum buildings and, much to their chagrin, kissed them on the ear, which was the best I could do considering they were running and screaming mid-kiss.
My grandmother spent many days of her girlhood at Tulsa Zoo. When my mom was a girl, my grandmother took her to the Zoo. When I was pint-sized, my mom took me to the Zoo. Yesterday, I took my little polywog to the Zoo for the first time. For us, it's a family tradition that goes way back - not quite to the founding of the Zoo in the 1920s, but still.
Needless to say, there's lots of kid-friendly stuff to do at the Tulsa Zoo. This carousel is just one of them. Don't forget to ride the train, too. Then there's the Nature Exchange, which I especially love because you can trade common rocks and fossils you find around town (we have a garage-full, thanks to the fact that I'm bound in matrimony to a geologist-wannabe-paleontologist) for something like skulls, skeletons or maybe even petrified brains. And did I mention the Tulsa Zoo features almost 1,500 animals of nearly 450 species? Kids like variety, and it's definitely available at America's Favorite Zoo, right here in Tulsa.
Can I tell you something? I hate looking at other people's zoo animal photos. It's nothing I haven't seen 10,000 times better in National Geographic or on bookmarks at the checkout at Barnes & Noble. I'm sure a lot of you feel the same way. But, this is my blog, and you're going to look at my zoo animal pictures, by golly!
I'm really, really sorry.
Each of the above animals was declared by my son to be, of course, "doggie." I bet I've heard that word 5,932 times since he learned to say it a few weeks ago.
I love this photo. This is exactly how my kid looks when he's playing with his blocks or my good measuring spoons or power tools covered in shards of glass with his back turned.
The elephants are my favorite. Have I mentioned I unwittingly collect elephant stuff? Apparently I come across as an elephant lover. One day, my friends and family spontaneously began showering me with elephant paraphernalia like magnets, wall hangings, candle holders and notepads made of recycled elephant poop. Go figure.
I very much dislike birds, and I wouldn't mind if I never saw one again. Except female cardinals - those can stay. To me, they represent all that is mother and ladylike-ness. I'd know ladylike-ness when I see it, I think, maybe.
Here's a shot of the Children's Zoo, located within the Tulsa Zoo. Kids are free to pet goats and lambs and the like, which is great fun for everyone, as long as no one gets grabby.
See that goat on the pedestal? That's me. See all the little groundling goats? Those are my future army, I mean, children. This was the story I made up in my head as I edited this photo, as if I don't have better things to think about than my plans for world domination.
There's more to see at the Tulsa Zoo than just lots and lots and lots of animals. Take note of the plants growing there, too. The plant displays are just as thoughtful as the animal exhibits. Plus, there are dozens of lovely vignettes to enjoy.
Ooo! A barn! I just love barns. I think anyone who half-way likes to take pictures likes barns.
After a few hours, we'd had our fill of plants and animals for the day. We stopped off at one of the several playgrounds for a snack and to let the little guy stretch his legs.
On our way out we stopped at the rainforest exhibit, an entire building of anything and everything about those 80-degree, 80-percent humidity hotbeds of colorful frogs, birds and cute little monkeys.
This is what I look like in the morning, with no makeup and before my half-pot of coffee. In case you wondered.
The otters wished us a final farewell.
They're such show-offs. Go for the jugular!
By the end of the day I'd decided we were in need of a Zoo membership. For just $45 - the same price of admission for my little fam to go to the zoo 2.8 times - we got free admission for two adults ("Free until Three" is the motto on kiddo admission at the T-Town Zoo) for 14 months, a packet of zoo-lovers' goodies, free parking anywhere in Mohawk Park, Member Mornings, special, members-only invitations to events and promotions and reduced admission to more than 100 U.S. zoos and aquariums, year-round.
For my money, that's a good deal.
For more information about Tulsa Zoo & Living Museum, check out their Web site and the TZ Wikipedia page. Anyone making a trip to Tulsa this summer needs to put Tulsa Zoo on the list of stops. There's nothing else like it anywhere else, and it's just too good to miss.