I am not sure who loves the zoo more, me or Mari. We both take turns shrieking with delight as we spot a tiger behind a bush or a monkey swinging from a rope. Seeing Mari put her hands together to sign "more" with a twinkle in her eyes always makes my heart do a little flip flop. She truly is a child after my own heart. Sure Ben is a fan of petting a goat or catching a glimpse of a cougar but he is much more interested in seeing how many rocks he can carry from one exhibit to the next or examining the covers on the electrical outlets near the polar bear enclosure. Let's face it, if it ain't round, it ain't his thing. Alas- there is more to the world than round objects so the boy gets dragged with me on my many attempts to try to broaden his horizons. While in Tucson I successfully broadened them a bit at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
The ASDM is more of a zoo than a museum. Its expansive grounds are filled with animals and plants that inhabit the surrounding desert. The exhibits are beautiful and blend with the landscape seamlessly. Its as if you are taking a walk through the desert and are having the best luck ever because suddenly a coyote appears from behind a saguaro cactus. Then a few yards later javelina pops out from behind an agave plant. Just when you think your walk can't get any better you spot a Ferruginous Hawk in flight.
The place is amazing. There is an Earth Sciences Corridor with a cave that kids can climb in and a mineral gallery for all those future geologists.
Children will have a blast looking for dinosaur fossils around "ancient Arizona". I got a thrill from getting a glimpse of a gorgeous Mexican Wolf (I had never seen one of those before) and always love a a good cat canyon.
I am not sure which more gorgeous the view or the overlook itself.
In a not so fantastic moment I had to scold Ben after he attempted to nail the river otter with a rock while horrified nature lovers looked on. I am sure whispers of "that mother needs to control her child" were mumbled. The last thing I want is for my son to nail an otter with a rock. What can I say? He has an arm and the boy is quick! I try. I swear.
Another cool thing was the the rock climb to the viewing window in the coati exhibit. We may not have spotted any coatis that day but the kids had fun exploring the exhibit nevertheless.
Our last stop of the day was the walk in aviary. Okay, I take that back. We did attempt the hummingbird exhibit as well but I couldn't get the kids past the plastic curtain that keeps the hummingbirds from escaping. They thought it was too fun to run back and forth to bother go seeing what was in the actual exhibit. Anyhow in the aviary there were all different kinds of indigenous birds from quail to doves to the famous Arizona Cardinal. The kids loved watching the birds sail overhead and enjoyed spotting them in the trees.
The whole experience was wonderful and the park is a must do if you are ever in the Tucson area. I certainly plan on going back again someday. The best time to visit is late fall, winter or early spring before the weather gets to warm and the animals are forced hide from the intense desert sun.