Sunday, August 29, 2010

Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo

Yes indeedy, this place was everything I hoped and more. What an awesome day! We arrived at 9am, left at 5pm and still didn't see quite everything. I'm trying hard to remember if I've spent 8 hours at a zoo before? Maybe Sea World or Disney's Animal Kingdom, but if so, it was due to shows and rides, not 8 hours of animal exhibits. We did see a 45 minute Imax movie (Bugs! in 3-D) and ride the Sky Tram one way because our legs were so tired. Otherwise, we hoofed it the entire time. And no one complained because the place was so awesome...

Since babies are my favorite, I'll start with them. A tiger cub, an orange baby langur, a tiny sea lion pup and a pair of adorable fossa pups. The fossa pups were being hand raised in the nursery and we happened to see them at a time they were being bottle fed and then allowed to run around and explore the room. It looked like about the most fun job ever, wrestling the squirmy little things while they nipped hands and wiggled around to escape. Too cute! The sea lion was the smallest I've seen and beyond adorable. I always love tiger cubs and who doesn't love a bright orange baby monkey?

The exhibits were all new to me, but new to the zoo was the Madagascar exhibit. It. Was. Amazing. First, we walked through a huge outdoor walkthrough with red and black and white ruffed lemurs free to jump on the visitor boardwalk. They did! I have several photos of the kids within touching distance of lemurs who just sat there. They also had large outdoor enclosures for ring-tailed lemurs and sifakas (those lemurs who leap sideways on the ground.) The indoor building housed zillions more lemurs, many birds, reptiles and amphibians native only to Madagascar and my favorite animal of the day- aye-ayes! Aye-ayes are creepy-looking, shaggy lemurs with a weird skeletal finger on each hand and are considered an omen of evil or bad luck when seen by the native tribal people. They're incredibly cool and only housed in 3 US zoos. I can't remember for sure if this was the first time I've seen them, but I'm positive this was the first time I've seen them well. I didn't get any photos because they are nocturnal and their exhibit was very dark, but they were running all over the exhibit and came close to the glass many times. We even got to see their weird fingers. Google them and look at photos! They're awesome!

The rainforest and desert dome were mindblowing. The cat building was HUGE, with the most cats I've ever seen at one facility. I'm not usually crazy about great apes, but the gorillas had a tiny baby who was riding on mom's back and then scampering all over the place. I spent more time watching gorillas than I ever have before. The aquarium was cool, but way too crowded. The butterfly building was pretty great. We all enjoyed riding the sky ride directly over the rhinos and the lake full of koi. The whole zoo was fantastic.

We set out from the zoo and drove directly to Topeka. That wasn't exactly intentional, there just wasn't ANYTHING between Omaha and Topeka! It was shocking! About an hour into our drive we happened upon a small town that had a Pizza Hut. It was maybe the size of Eureka, Il and was by far the biggest town right on the highway. There was another small town with a Super 8 motel about 30 miles out of Topeka, but I thought since we were so close already, I'd like to get 20 miles closer. Nope. Topeka doesn't have suburbs! At least not to the north. We had to go all the way into town to find a hotel. Oh, and the dink town we stopped at to eat at the Pizza Hut didn't have cell phone reception!

Today we're going to Topeka Zoo to see the baby hippo and giraffe. It appears to be a fairly small zoo so I'm thinking maybe two hours instead of eight. The kids both have bad colds so I don't think we'll stop at Kansas City Zoo. We'll see. I have no idea if we'll drive all the way home tonight or find something else to do and come home Monday. Again, we'll see :)

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