A day at the zoo (a Papa’s view)

After Valerie had posted her view of our latest visit to the zoo here, here is my view, which to some parts is the same, but at the same time isn’t, so here goes!

Nico loves the zoo (and so do we), so more by coincidence than anything else we had found out that you could exchange Air Miles for tickets to the Granby Zoo, so we would exchange some for Valerie’s and mine an pay for Nico. Worked great last year, so this time Nico’s Grandma Dada exchanged some of hers, so we could go (Merci beaucoup :)) and we pushed it back several times, because the weather during the week was nice, but on the weekends it would get freezing and as much as we love the zoo, we were not about to freeze our sit-upons off, so when we saw that this Sunday (March 11, 2012, the next to last weekend the tickets were valid!) they announced +11 degrees (for our US friends, that is 52F), we were ready to go!

Nico was SO excited, he was talking about the zoo all evening before and all morning, that wanted to see the tigers, the pigs, the elephants, the zebras, the hippos, the giraffes and during the one-hour ride there (thanks to the now finally finished extension of the highway we were able to shave 30 minutes off the travel time, which is always great!) all he kept blubbering about was zoo this, zoo that, first time is was really excited about something :)

So when we got there, the first impression was – “BRRRRRR” it was windy and the wind was freezing, good that we did not dress too lightly and we were hoping that inside the zoo it would be better and thankfully it was more sheltered and therefore less cold.

First stop was the elephant house and Nico’s first reaction was “ça pu!” (French for “it stinks!”) when we came closer and the typical smell reached us. He was all taken by seeing the big elephant sweeping the floor with his trunk, grabbing the last bits of straw to eat and his eyes got even bigger, when he stuck his trunk into his mouth.

Then we were off upstairs where the giraffes could be viewed from above and after we came up the stairs, Nico was headed towards the giraffes, when a big bird of prey (aka Bateleur, a kind of eagle) caught his eye and squawked at him and made him jump, from that point on he kept an eye on it, he did not trust it! He loved the giraffes, though, despite the, eh, feathered distraction, which kept bringing him back and jump a little at every squawk.

Once we were out, “tigre” (tiger) was all that was on his mind, but at first we encountered Yeti, the zoo’s winter mascot. Now mascots and Nico have not exactly been a match made in heaven in the past, since he was afraid of them, but this time around he greeted him, shook his hand, let me take a photo of them together and even said “bye”!

Then we figured to stop by the gift shop on the way in, before he is tired and cranky and it was a good idea. He still ran around and explored, but when we would call, he’d come (thankfully without half the store in his hands). After that he was still all “tigre”, so off we went to find it, of course it had to be on the opposite end of the zoo and because of the spring thaw the pathways were mucky and muddy, so it was not as much fun to go there.

On the way there, we came across a new exhibit of snow leopards, one of which was just laying there, with this proud aura around him, while two of the younger folks gnawed on icicles, they were probably hungry, a great opportunity for Nico to see some wild cat life first hand and fairly close-up. After that we took some photos on some painted metal animals and of course he didn’t want to go back into his wagon, but trudge through the mud trying to find a tiger (or two).

In the meantime he saw the Przewalski horses, which to him were “anes” (donkeys) and it took me quite a bit to tear him away from them, but it was worth it once we reached the tigers.

One of them had put himself on display, all stretched out parallel to the “human viewpoint”, while the other one was pacing back and forth. When he was leaving, Nico actually yelled after him “tigre – tourne!” (“Tiger – turn”) for him to come back, which was so cute, and eventually he did come back, it was a real challenge to tear him away from these majestic felines and convince him to continue on, so we could have lunch. Our path led us past the other side of the tiger enclosure (where Nico was glued to the glass again) and through the kangaroos, which looked grumpy sitting in the snow, but after a quick stop at the yaks we made it to lunch, all the while the prospect of fries helping us to move Nico along.

From there on had one more stop planned – Kaïla, a multimedia show, which Nico really wanted to see, but he did not want to go back into his wagon, but pulled it on his on instead.

Before that, though, we went to get the “tire sur la neige”, which is maple taffy on snow, a Quebecois specialty and delicacy, where maple syrup is brought to a boil and then poured onto snow or shaved ice. Once it cools off a little, you put a popsicle stick on it and then start rolling until you have a maple lollipop, so to say, and he liked it, even though it was a texture he’s not really used to, last year at the sugar shack he did not want anything to do with it, so this bodes well :)

Once we got to the South Pacific pavillion, Nico immediately went for the aquariums, which he had not cared for the last time, which are lower than at most places, so it is easy for him to see without anyone picking him up, then went for the ray tank, where you can actually pet rays and after Maman overcame her reservations, he did not show much hesitance anymore, but was patient to wait for some to come by and he managed to touch at least one of them, a great experience for kid and adult alike! So much that wherever we went in the pavilion, Nico kept wanting to go back to the rays, if we would have let him, he probably would have jumped in…

After that we went into Kaïla and he really enjoyed it, he grooved, he followed everything, he had real fun! It is a magnificent multi-media show with music, light show, effects and more, check out the video to get a rough idea of what it’s like – in person it is even better!

After this Valerie’s feet were killing her, I was getting tired, too, but Nico reminded us that he wanted to see the zebras, so we went into the African portion of the zoo and we were lucky that one of the zebras put itself on display close to the water trench, grazing, so that Nico was able to see it pretty close and he was happy. So happy that we all forgot about the hippos, but shhht, don’t tell him, he might not remember…

So we made our way back to the van (Nico had been pulling his wagon since lunch, btw, instead of sitting in it) and he started to protest more and more, because he wanted to stay at the zoo, even though we were getting closer to his nap time. about 20 metres from the van he wanted to go back into the wagon and then, of course, he didn’t want to go back out and into the van, but after some more severe protesting Valerie managed to strap him back in, while I put everything else into the van and while whining that he wanted to go to the zoo again, 5 minutes after we left he was snoring, probably dreaming of all the animals he had seen :)

 It was so great to see him this excited about something and he still is asking us pretty much every day to go back, I have a feeling that he liked the whole thing at least a little bit…

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