"That's the desert dome," I said to Ty, nodding toward the reflective bubble in the distance. "That'll probably be one of the last places we visit. But, anyway, that's the zoo; that's where we're headed."
Not two minutes later, oblivious to our previous conversation, Zoë piped from the back, "Hey, guys. What's that dome thing?"
Our first inside joke of the trip had been uttered.
I hadn't been to the zoo in two years. When last I visited, Rosenblatt Stadium was still present. When last I visited, the main entrances and exits were still guarded by heavy, iron gates. When last I visited, the Madagascar exhibit was still under construction.
It had been awhile.
After snaking our way through the admission line and into the park, we headed toward the Skyfari, the chairlift that takes one from the butterfly exhibit to the pachyderms, over the gardens and the lake.
"I'd take some pictures right now if I weren't so afraid of falling," Ty said, clutching the bar in front of us. And though I laughed an amused laugh, I, too, was a bit unnerved. My hands shook slightly as I took pictures, pointed out cheetahs and ostriches.
We spent an entire day at the zoo, meandering through the jungle, the aquarium, the cat complex, the desert dome. I remember Ty exclaiming, "I am SO going to cross the rope bridge," when we were in the jungle. I remember Zoë staring at the lemurs, purring, "Oh. Oh, my God. My cat DOES look like a lemur!" Lots of people. Lots of strollers. Lots of animals, lion cubs and white alligators included.
Two of the five five-month-old lion cubs.
Arthur the Aardvark had hit the bottle a bit hard the night before.
The "all hope is lost" lemur.
The other lemurs.
No, seriously, guys. NETTLES.
Note: NOT an animal.
Signs never let you have any fun.
No, really. JELLYFISH. Watching them must be like what insects feel when lured into a bug zapper.
THE ZOO. What I remember most: baby lions, strollers, crying children, an over-salted pretzel, tiger yawns, black swans, sea lion cries, "pants rooster," strollers, jellies, "losing Ty," strollers. And embarrassing ourselves.
The one father who got parenting right. A small boy in a yellow shirt who chased a peacock and later got right in my way. The sun bear having a nearly-secret seizure. Dawn's cave-art paintings. Red sand and brilliant blue sky. Perfect, perfect weather. Rhinoceri (rhinoceroses?). Total clusterfucks that REALLY weren't. BABIES, BABIES, BABIES.