Monday, January 3, 2011

A Winter Trip To The Zoo

One of our favorite outings is to the Como Zoo in St. Paul.  In Minnesota, the zoo experience is different between summer and winter.

In the summer, the Lions are outside, in the winter it's to cold so they are in their den.

In the summer, the African Hoofed Animals are out in their yard, but in the winter they are in a smelly building we like to avoid.

Since we are a cold weather state, winter is really a great time to visit.  The Tigers are up moving around and the Polar Bears are enjoying their brand new, state of the art, exhibit.  Visitors do have to go outside to pass from building to building but all of the exhibits are viewable from inside the buildings. 

And the best part, no one goes to the zoo in the winter so you have front row viewing at every exhibit! 

We always follow the same path when we enter the zoo.  First we go into the Habitat Trail and then we go clockwise.  I think they switched the turtles out in the pond in the Habitat Trail!  They used to be pond turtles but this time there were Alligator Snappers in there.  They were very cool to see.  Look at the head on that thing!

 The Tamarian's look like little old men.  Heidi remembered the time she was eating Cheetos and the Tamarian's were following her.  Shawn wondered if the zoo keepers gave them mustache wax.

The Orangutans are a funny little family to watch.  The baby was born in the fall of 2007 and weighs about 20 pounds.  She is just like a typical three year old, very curious.  There was a small, flat whole in this log.  She kept putting her hand in there to get something out.  We think she had stuffed some of her cardboard in there and was trying to get it out.  It was a riot to watch!

Before we started going to the zoo in the winter, I had never seen the wolves in the Wolf Forest.  I was starting to think they weren't really there!  In the summer, when it's hot, they sleep in the shade and don't move around to much.  But they are cold weather animals so in the winter they move around a lot and there is no brush for them to hid in.  When we approached the exhibit, one wolf was standing on a pile of rocks calling out.  He ran off before I could snap a picture. 

This beautiful white guy was sleeping in the little shelter and was happy to smile for a picture.

The Lions were in their den, taking a nap.  She is a stunning woman.  It's amazing to be this close to this lady, only a sheet of glass between us.

 When we visit Como in the summer, the Tiger is almost always sleeping in the sun. We might get to see him laying in the little pond, if we are lucky.

But in the winter, he is always moving around.  Pacing back and forth and sometimes playing with his toys.  This time he stayed on the ground but sometimes he will come up the rocks to the window so you are nose to nose with him.  It's truly awesome. 

All of the cats had large bones in their habitats.  This one was still bloody and these guys were tuckered out.  It would have been a sight to see them get those bones!

The new Polar Bear Exhibit is a million times better than their old one.  They are able to go inside and still be seen by the visitors.  Today they were in the training room taking a nap when we arrived.

The bears are twin brothers named Buzz and Neal, which cracks me up.  They have been in their new exhibit since April.  We got to see them for the first time late May, and it opened to the public in June.  There is a learning center with a staff member or volunteer on hand to answer questions and show samples of fir and blubber.  This is one of my favorite exhibits of all of the zoo's I have been at all over the country.  If you haven't seen it, go very soon.

In the learning center, they have a seal den for the kids to check out. 

When we were done with the Polar Bears, we went to see the aquatic animals and the real seals.  This guy was posing for the pictures!  There were two in the training pool.  One was Sparkey but we are not sure which one but my guess he is the one posing for pictures.

As we exited the Aquatic Animals building we heard a presentation coming from the Polar Bear Exhibit so we headed back to see what was going on.  A staff member was taking about Polar Bears in general, how they moved Buzz and Neal to Detroit while their new home was being built, and some specific things about these two bears. 

All the excitement got one of the bears up and moving so we got to see him walking out in the snow.  We didn't get to see him swim but I bet he was in the water after we left.

We had a great time, as always.  If you are in the Twin Cities I suggest you check out Como Zoo this winter!

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