We headed out a little later than we would have liked, and ended up at the front gates around 11:00am. Just in time for the grizzly bear feeding, in which the bears came right up to the glass! The grizzlies have a pretty neat enclosure with a pool and waterfall. However, the other bears are still living in the original bear grottos built in 1935 by the WPA. The old architecture from this period fascinates me, and even though it's not the best thing for the animals (the enclosures are far too small and sometimes boring), it gives the zoo a wonderful sort of decrepit-deco feeling.
We watched the sea lions swim in circles while a plump mallard sat on the rocks, smugly overseeing the repetitive ritual. Next we headed into one of my favorite buildings, the 1938 aviary, which sadly has far fewer birds in it than it used to. In fact, we noticed that the zoo seemed a little...tired. No where near its busy, bustling, exciting state when I visited it has a child. There seemed to be fewer animals. In fact, the back portion of the zoo (with enclosures for rhinos and various ungulates) was completely shut off and empty. No more elands, either!
Most tragic of all was the seeming abandonment of the treasured Mother's Building which opened in 1925. It was originally a refuge for mothers and their young children. The inside is adorned with wood paneling, benches, and opened with a tea room on one side and a nursery on the other which provided milk and water for making formula. A gorgeous painting spreads out along the top of each wall, and the entrance is flanked by two mosaics on either side. It's a real treasure, but it seems to have been forgotten...
However, the day was still exciting and incredibly fun. I was delighted by all the tame ducks in the petting zoo, and Duke played with some ravenous and slightly terrifying sheep. In fact, I think the children's zoo was one of the highlights of our day!
We had lunch in a quiet spot of meadow next to the stream (a rare area that was not fenced off!), and then had a rather bizarre encounter with a crane in the South American area. As Duke walked by, this giant crane would breathe loudly, flap his wings, and arch his neck so far backward that it touched his back. His neck feathers spayed out impressively as he breathed in a rhythmic pattern. He did this each time Duke moved next to his pen. How strange!
We had many other adventures at the zoo that day, which I am slowly compiling into a video. However, I have created a short "trailer" of our zoo adventures. ENJOY!