Sunday, May 20, 2012

How the Prairie Dogs Rocked the National Zoo

Two weeks ago we took a trip to the National Zoo with some friends, including the boys’ friends Andrew, and little Chloe from Adventures With Little Bear. The trip is more tedious than normal for us as public transportation-ers because we have to transfer metro lines, but due in part to the excitement of having Andrew on the bus and metro with us, the boys barely noticed the extra waiting and jostling.

Sit in the front car! Boys love it.
The zoo is just a few blocks away from the Woodley Park/National Zoo metro stop, and it’s free. In the past my National Zoo experiences have been varied. One time we brought the boys when they were way too young, it was way too hot, and way too crowded. The perfect time was last fall, middle of the week, with my parents and brother. Cooler weather, fewer people, happier animals, and more help with the boys. In my opinion, if you want to go to the zoo, do it in the middle of a week and before school is out, or in the fall after it’s in session. I want nothing to do with walking all over creation in 100% humidity while pushing a stroller full of toddlers through throngs of sweaty people.

The first thing we did at the zoo this time was wait for the sloth bear to come out and suck termites through a straw, but alas, the sloth bear was not up for the audience at his meal and he hid from view while the slightly flustered employee rattled off sloth bear statistics. If your kids have an animal they are especially interested in, either look online before, or ask someone if they allow visitors to watch a feeding and plan to be in the right place at the right time. I make no guarantees about the sloth bear.

Scaling a  mountain waiting for the sloth bear
Four little monkeys watching the zebras
We managed to see a red panda and one of the giant pandas that the zoo is known for. The boys’ favorite part was touching fossilized panda poop on display. Of course. They think anything on the topic of poop or any word that sounds like poop is hilarious. I’ve come to believe it’s hardwired into boys to be that way, because they didn’t get it from Brian and me. I’ve had other moms of boys say the same thing.
The kids liked interactive displays like this one.
Since the renovation of one side of the elephant house (they’re still working on the other side), it is much easier to see the elephants, and it makes me happy that they have a much bigger home. The suspension bridge over the elephant enclosure is cool and only makes me a little nervous. There are also a couple other viewing places down below if you’re not into suspension bridges.

This last time we didn’t make it into the monkey house or small mammal house or reptile house, but all of those places are fun unless they’re crowded. The big cats are impressive to see. We got an outstanding, toothy yawn from a lion. The boys’ favorite part of the cats exhibit was touching a big ball that lions had played with, because they could touch the teeth marks and claw-scratches.
I know, I know. I should be a wildlife photographer.
The lion ball!
The whole way from the gate to the end of the zoo is downhill. I urge you to keep that in mind while gauging your tiredness. The farm animals are near the end, and we’ve actually never made it quite that far, though I’ve heard that especially the smaller kids like the farm animals.

Chloe had to leave before the best part, unfortunately. Surprisingly, it was the Prairie Dogs. Not because the animals themselves were cool, but because behind them is a kids’ prairie dog maze! It’s a bunch of plastic playground-y tunnels with various places kids can poke up and see out of, like prairie dogs! The three boys became squealing prairie dogs for a long time, and were extremely reluctant to leave their tunnels.

 The next favorite thing for them was dancing in the spray from the misters as we made our way up 
out of the zoo.

As far as eating, I recommend packing a lunch or snack and drinks, unless you’re cool with paying $9 for a standard hamburger or chicken strips, or if you don’t want a soda the size of a small water heater. There are a lot of tables to spread food out on in various places throughout the zoo.

Overall it’s a fun and worthwhile outing, albeit a bit tiring (especially if you metro). I recommend figuring out what your kids want to see the most and going there first so you don’t get worn out before you actually get to see the cool stuff!

5 Conditional Shouts! *Go anytime but the summer, know what you want to see, and allow enough time so you’re not rushed or utterly drop-dead tired by the time you leave.

Riding...a frog face?
Ahhhhh! Little misters in the mister
(sorry, couldn't help it)

1 comment:

  1. In an effort to be a (an?) helpful and informative reader, I might note that, while it is more tiring to metro, it is (at least was the last time I was there) more expensive to drive, since you have to pay for parking. I remember being quite annoyed at how much parking cost...


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