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More Zoo, Please!

One of the best gifts we were given for Christmas was a family season pass to the New York City zoos. Thanks to Grandpa and Grandma Sally, we can get three adults and two kids into any of the five zoos in the New York area, free parking, and unlimited “extra” attractions like carousel rides and butterfly gardens.

I know what you’re thinking – how often do you really get to the zoo? It’s sort of a big production, packing and sunscreening and planning and all. And the answer is –

We just went this past weekend for the fourth time since the beginning of April.

Madeleine is an official zoo junkie, and when she’s not begging us to take her to the zoo – “Maddie want go zoo! More zoo, please!” – she’s telling anyone who will listen about her last zoo visit. She loves the animals, the carousel rides, the room to run, the whole package. We took her once last year – for her first birthday – and she had a great time. But the cost is somewhat prohibitive so that was it for us for the season.

23_months_004.jpgThis year, though, is a different story. Thanks to the family pass, what would have cost us $85 on Saturday was absolutely free, so the only question we have in deciding whether or not it’s a zoo day is, What’s the weather like? We’ll often wake up on Saturday morning and if kiddo’s up in time and the weather’s decent, simply pack up and go. We wait to tell Maddie we’re going until we’ve absolutely made up our minds, because tantalizing her with the prospect and pulling it back would be the heights of torture. She brings a stuffed animal with her in the car to “hold her seat” while we’re playing at the zoo, and when she gets back in the car to go home after lunch spends most of the car ride telling said stuffed animal all about what she saw.

23_months_045.jpgSure-fire hits: polar and panda bears. Camels. Giraffes. But she’s seen pretty much everything in the zoo over the course of our last few visits, and loves all of it. Our most recent trip we went through the amazing Congo Rain Forest exhibit and Madeleine spent a good 20 minutes watching the gorillas. She couldn’t get over the baby gorillas, or how close the adults would come to the protective glass.



23_months_079.jpgProbably her favorite spot to hang out, though, if I’m being honest, is the carousel. Instead of horses the zoo has a bug carousel, and so far Maddie’s sampled a grasshopper, a ladybug, and a honeybee. When she gets within sound range of the place her eyes light up and her steps quicken, and she spends the whole time in line straining forward to the seats. “Wheeee!” she screams with delight as we go around and around, the wind in her hair and a gleam in her eye.

We love spending all morning at the zoo, catching a bite of pizza for lunch, then heading home for a well-deserved nap. Maddie’s always in seventh heaven, and the only time she cries is when she has to “share” the carousel (my speed junkie) or when it’s time to go home. Otherwise it’s full-speed ahead, blissed-out fun, and it takes three adults (Mom, Dad, and Gamma) to keep up with her.

And while leaving is traumatic, Maddie dines out on the stories for the rest of the week, telling anyone who’s in earshot – Mommy, Daddy, the grocery store clerk – all about her most recent trip. Sometimes she’ll even grab a phone as soon as she gets home and “call” someone to tell them about it. Just a couple weeks ago, she picked up the phone and “talked” to Nana and Papa, and my mom happened to write down the conversation (trust me, I couldn’t make this up -)

dsc00582.jpg“Hi Nana Papa – Maddie went zoo. Saw goldfish. Remember that? Member that, Nana? Saw tiger. Tiger go GROWWL. Maddie saw polar bear. Member Nana? Maddie rode carousel. Maddie saw horsies. Maddie went up up up! Maddie doesn’t want to share with other people. Maddie saw polar bear. Maddie saw red panda. Ok Nana Papa. Bye Bye. Better put phone back, be safe.”

We’ve had a couple moments of concern about how much time we’re spending at the zoo- will she become jaded and uninterested? We’re sort of counting on her zoo love once Peanut’s born, since my mom will be taking Maddie there to get her out of the house. And we’ve planned her second birthday party there as well, inviting all her little friends (most of whom have passes themselves) to come hang out there for the day. We’ve already told Maddie about it so don’t worry you might accidentally spill the beans around her, and she’s begun talking excitedly about that day – “Danny come zoo! Nana Papa MAYBE come zoo! Show them polar bears! Elisabeth come zoo! See carousel!”

So we’ve thought about limiting her time there a bit, to make it more of a treat. But when you see her face and hear how much she talks about it, you realize no amount of time there will fade its infinite variety. My kid’s hooked on the zoo, and she’s got it bad.


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