From the time my kids could sit upright, they have been going to zoos. I guess that's what happens when your mother is a complete animal freak. I swear sometimes I think I see Ben roll his eyes when we pull up to yet another zoo parking lot. He must wonder how many giraffes I have to see before I am finally satisfied (the answer, incidentally, is that I will never be satisfied so deal with it my boy). Mari is my little animal lover and shares in my excitement with each and every giraffe that crosses our path. Luckily, some zoos are built for those kids who need a break from staring into exhibits, hopelessly looking for that elusive bobcat. Oakland is one of those zoos.
This is not to say Oakland doesn't have some great exhibits. It most certainly does. I love how up close and personal we can get with the ring-tailed lemurs. I can't help but stare down the smiling alligator that lays so still it almost convinces me it can't be real. The kids love brushing the sheep and goats in the children's zoo. And of course, who can resist the long tongues and ever longer necks of the giraffes?
And even with all his excitement and animal interaction, sometimes a kid needs a break. He needs to run free, climb a few dinosaur eggs, and slide down a rabbit hole or two. This is what the Oakland Zoo does so well. It gives children fun and educational places to play without losing its identity. Kids can follow the animal tracks stamped on the concrete, climb on giant dinosaur eggs or slink through a tortoises shell. Children can run in the meadow while their parent's relax and they can look forward to a ride on the carrousel on their way out of the park.
Then they can go back to getting excited over elephants and going ga ga over the gazelles. Perhaps they might even have so much fun that they will actually get along with each other. Hey, a mom can dream right?