Thursday, December 20, 2012

Winter at the Indianapolis Zoo

It's been years since I've been able to easily budget both a membership to the Indianapolis Zoo AND the Indianapolis Children's Museum, so I took an acquaintance's advice and started staggering our memberships--last year we had a membership to the Children's Museum, and when that expired, we instead bought a membership to the zoo. By the time our zoo membership expires, the Children's Museum will seem brand-new all over again to the girls, and in the meantime, we've been taking regular advantage of our zoo membership!

In December, the Indianapolis Zoo offers special night-time activities, along with lots of Christmas lights, carolers, and Santa Claus, so the girls and I did some shopping in Indianapolis, then headed to the zoo for the afternoon and evening.

The zoo is an entirely different experience in winter, I was fascinated to discover. The animals that enjoy the cold weather were much livelier and happy-looking:

I really like the expression on Willow's face, reflected on the glass wall of the enclosure

Until the late afternoon, we had the entire zoo pretty much to ourselves, which seemed to make the zoo animals more likely to engage in direct interaction with us. I have never before gone to the zoo and experienced the monkeys just as interested in staring at us as we were at them, and this encounter with a lioness raised my heart rate, quite frankly:

I was all, "Look, Sydney! The lioness wants to eat your face off!"

It's one of my hobbies to plan strategies for emergencies; my strategy in case the lioness managed to jump the fence was to yell for the girls to run while distracting it with my body. Hopefully, the lioness would be happy to settle down and just eat MY face off so that the girls could make it back to the safety of the indoor cafeteria.

The tiger also kind of wanted to eat the kids:

In an action that is the opposite of the responsible, careful parenting evidenced by my willingness to be eaten by a lioness to save my children, I also took advantage of the de-population of the zoo to permit the girls to reach their arms into this flamingo enclosure--

--and collect pink feathers for themselves:

Although the weather wasn't too chilly (at least until the sun set!), the indoor exhibits remained good places to warm up fingers and toes, and we ended up spending a lot of time, in particular, in the Oceans exhibit:

I still remember when this exhibit opened, and visitors were packed in six deep in front of the reef aquarium, so it always gives me an extra sense of peace and happiness to watch my girls able to just chill out and pass the time here.

Ah, I LOVE mid-afternoons on a public school day!

It was especially pleasant to have the shark touch tank to ourselves, since it can be tricky to get a shark to permit you to pet it when the room is full of other visitors talking loudly, splashing the water, and making scary shadows on the surface of the tank. However, with just us in sight, many sharks seemed happy to come over and engage us:

Willow, especially, was the shark whisperer here--several times I witnessed a shark make an obvious beeline to be stroked by her, and sometimes they'd turn around right after they'd been stroked going one way so that she could stroke them swimming the other way! Sydney was PISSED by this because, even though she'd stroked many sharks, and probably as many as Willow had, she nevertheless...

Actually, I have no idea what pissed Sydney off about her sister petting the sharks. Ah, sisters.

We watched the penguins, who were pretty thrilled about being fed--

--and the seahorses, who got fed and didn't care:
The piece of food near the bottom of the photo actually bonked that seahorse on the head as it floated down. The seahorse shook it off and was all, "Get off me, Food! I hate you!"
When we go out for the day, I usually require the girls to pack themselves a lunch, and when we go out for the day and the evening, I usually require them to pack themselves a lunch AND a dinner. My metabolism and hunger cues are so screwed up that I'm pretty much fine not eating until later that night, and in my opinion, if the kids are just as happy eating packed food, and it saves time to have them do so, AND it's a ton cheaper, then it's a no-brainer. 

Besides, that leaves room in the budget for the occasional pressed penny, of which I am highly fond--

--and the zoo's evening special of one $8 mug, in which one could obtain unlimited refills of hot chocolate with a big scoop of marshmallows on top:

NOM. We refilled that mug a lot.

The zoo has lots of pretties set out for the holidays--

--but by far the coolest thing about being there was getting to see the animals at night. The meerkats snoozed in their eensy clear-walled meerkat den, but the bats that are always deeply asleep whenever we stop by to visit them during the day?

Holy cow, THAT'S what nocturnal means!

I feel like we have been out traveling SO much lately--trips to one coast, trips to the other coast, weekend trips down south, day trip after day trip to special Christmas events, and another trip down south FOR Christmas coming up in just a couple of days (although we might go on a day trip to Louisville first, sigh). I want to be weary of it and just stay home, skip the next holiday party, cut short the visit to my family, but I'm trying to instead stay excited, stay eager, stay adventurous.

Because sure, November is wild, and December is wild, but after that comes January. Nothing happens in January. And then we've got February. Not much happens in February. There will be a lot of home time then, a lot of school AT home, a lot of days when there's no way I'm going to dig out the car or risk the weather forecast to take the girls away for the day.

And when those months come--and they're coming soon!--I'm going to rely on this travel-weariness that I'm really feeling right now to keep me content for just a couple more weeks before I succumb to cabin fever.

And then will come March. I think the girls and I might drive up to Connecticut to visit a dear friend in March.


Tina said...

Awesome fun day! I totally hear you on the travel weariness. For one sold year, it felt like we were constantly going somewhere, doing something, or visiting someone (no one ever visits us, I'm starting to take it personally). After the year ended, I was pretty much a recluse and refused to leave the house, unless it was to go to the library and get groceries. Now that we have moved to a different state, I am happy to spend our out-of-the-house days just exploring our new smallish city.

julie said...

Local day trips are the BEST! We never have the disposable income for it, but I've always wanted to do these really comprehensive townie projects like eating at and reviewing every single restaurant in town, or tasting every variety of and evaluating every local beer/wine label.


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