Sunday, September 13, 2009

This One's for You, Mom!

My mom (Gram) retired from teaching this past June after 26 consecutive years plus an additional 7? years before I was born! (Did I get that right, Mom?) As a retirement gift, her faculty gave her a Grandparent Membership to the Baltimore Zoo. This provides entrance for two adults and four children any day through next Memorial Day, I believe. Since the four grandchildren are all under the age of 6 (and my parents are far from stupid :-), they've not yet taken all the kids by themselves. Instead, they've taken the individual families at different times.

Mom wanted desperately to squeeze in a trip with Ben and Ellie before Ben headed to Kindergarten and she had her foot surgery. (What a way to spend your first non-teaching Fall, right?!? She had the surgery last Wednesday, so mobility has come to a screeching halt for many least the kind of mobility you need to do the zoo!) She's been asking where my zoo pictures are, so hopefully this will give her something to smile about while she is staying off her feet. :-)

Now, brace yourself. If you thought you felt like you were on vacation with us, just wait! You may want to consider taking a bathroom break and grabbing something to snack on before continuing on with this post! Sorry. I couldn't help it! Too many cool animal shots!!! I'll at least try to keep the narration to a minimum... Stop laughing.

At the beginning of the Africa Trail section, we spotted this tortoise out for a morning stroll. Ellie immediately lapsed into her "shtick" from our National Zoo trip back in May. "Now's that's a turtle, alright!" Amazing what they remember, isn't it? I love the texture of his front legs...

Mr. Rhino. Again, intriguing texture...wonder what his skin feels like... Benjamin has a stuffed rhinoceros that he used to sleep with. When he was younger, he called it a "winus." :-)

Co-ed dorms have nothin' on this zoo exhibit! Ostriches, zebras, rhinos all in the same habitat.

The Balto. Zoo has an awesome aviary! You can actually walk into the exhibit and wander through the various walkways and platforms. This was right up Ben's alley, what with his bird obsession! :-) Here he is conversing with the White-Faced Whistling Ducks. They actually sounded like little squeaky bath toys. No doubt Ben would have taken one home if only he could have scooped one up...

I just thought this one of Gram and Ellie was cute. They're looking at a spoon-billed...something.

Baby storks. Ugly little suckers, aren't they?!? I would have thought they'd be MUCH cuter!

After spending about 10 minutes in the aviary, Ellie announced loudly, "Let's get outta' here a-fore we get pecked!" Gram responded, "That's Gram's girl...worrying about things that are never gonna' happen!" :-)

I just had to get a shot of this! This gentleman was actually in a suit at the zoo on one of the hottest days of the summer!!!! He must be "someone important," because on the way in, the tram stopped to pick him up at the VIP parking lot. We saw him many times throughout the morning, and all I could think of was "The Thomas Crown Affair." :-)

The cheetah exhibit is an incredible experience. There is a huge window where the kids can stand a breath away from the pacing cats! Ellie, of course, used the opportunity to practice her poses. :-)

Doesn't this shot of Ben look a little startling?!? When Jim was looking at the pictures in the camera, it made him do a double-take!!! :-)

This was actually the first time that the baby elephant, Samson, (with his mother present) was introduced to the bull elephants! Each elephant had a handler present...don't know what they would have done if the rendezvous had gone awry... It was interesting to watch. The whole event was definitely highly choreographed.

Check out Samson's back legs. Too cute!

The little guy kept following the trainers around begging for treats. See? A trait not unique to human children!

Mommy following behind...

The kids got to ride on a camel. This little adventure was an extra $5.00 per person! Not a small splurge but not too bad either when the cost of admission was FREE! :-) This shot cracks me up! Doesn't it look like they're comparing the size of their feet instead of enjoying what will likely be their one and only camel ride EVER?!?

Doesn't it look like Ellie's tickling the camel's nose here? Too funny!

Giraffes! I got lots of neat giraffe shots!

LOVE this one!

...and this one! :-)

Get this! You can actually feed the giraffes at the Balto. Zoo! You pay $2.00 for a branch of Acacia leaves and then stand on the feeding deck and wait. The giraffes are of course, rather well-trained in this procedure, and it didn't take long for an eager neck to stretch our way. This is Cesear, the "baby" 3 yr-old, eating Ben's leaves.

Ben was in love with Cesear! He lingered as long as possible. By this point, Ellie was WAY past done. She's not heat tolerant to say the least. The child sweats if the temp is above 70, so this stifling late summer HUMID day was too much for her!

Little Cesear, close-up. Too cute!!!

LOVE the crossed necks! :-)

After the giraffe-feeding we quickly visited the polar bears before calling it a day. 'Tis the glory of the membership! We could leave when we were done and not feel guilty for not staying all day! I'm greatly looking forward to making some visits later in the fall and winter.

It's been ages since I was at the Baltimore Zoo! I do have snapshot memories from elementary school field trips, but that's about it. I was very impressed by the exhibits and the "extra" experiences that were available. Of course, the giraffe-feeding was a huge hit, and the camel ride was a close second. If you remember, we couldn't find the giraffes in D.C. in May, because they were in ...Miami! So this trip made up nicely for Benjamin's disappointment a few months back.

'Can't wait to return soon and do the other half of the zoo. For those in need of a good retirement gift, I certainly think this one takes the cake! Store this idea in the deep recesses of your memory for future reference. You could just be a hero at the office the next time someone retires...


  1. great, awesome zoo pictures!! I love the one of the cheetah looking at Ben! WOW! too cool. And I really liked the one of the baby elephant begging snacks off the trainer. Such a child! But the giraffe pics are definitely my favorites! I love all of them. That would be so awesome to get to feed them! Did the kids enjoy the camel ride? Jordan and I rode one about 6 years ago at the Albuqueque Zoo and we thought it was just a little scary. But then our camel threw a fit in the middle of the ride and just stopped. Fun times!

  2. I LOVE these pictures! It truly is a gift to spend time with my grandchildren at the zoo!

  3. The pictures are great -- looks like the kids had a great time. I need to learn how to work our camera better than I do to truly get our "moneys or is it monies (?) worth" -- great photos!!