For the low cost of $94.00 the family joined the Brookfield Zoo this past Sunday and I am thrilled to have done so. The benefits are endless (Parking, Food Discounts, Guest Passes, the whole fucking works) and regardless of having a daughter enamored with all animals I love the zoo as well. Also, did you know that the zoo is open 365 days a year? Christmas 2006 at the zoo will be fantastic.
We got there around noon on an overcast day so it was pretty sparsely populated which was real nice. We spent about 5 hours there so instead of doing all the details I will pass along a few highlights. First off we went right to the bears row and got a good half hour show from a lazy polar bear who was content to sleep and splash around in his water and then on to see the rest of the bears who were mainly slumbering (I envy the bastards). It was lunch time for the Alaskan Brown Bear and they have a nice glass window where he is fed so my daughter was able to get up real close and pretend kiss the bear. Very cute. The damn thing can run 35+ miles per hour which is pretty amazing/terrifying.
As we were walking to Tropic World we first had to stop off and ride the Brookfield Zoo Carousel as my daughter is really, really into the “roundy, roundy” as she calls it . She rode the tiger and neither one of us could have been more thrilled. We went into Tropic World and got a nice viewing of all the monkeys including the newest member of the gorilla’s, Bakari (Binti Jua’s son born this past May). Mom and son where playing and it was nice to see. By the way, anyone who thinks evolution is full of crap should spend a few hours viewing gorilla’s interacting with each other and their young ones and maybe then they can take their head out of their ass.
Next we spent some time walking by the Pachyderm House and got some good looks at a rhinoceros, elephants and a hippopotamus sleeping in the mud. On our way to the Fragile Kingdom we walked by an enormous ostrich who was just chillin and sat in front of us preening for a good 10-15 minutes. We slyly walked by the carousel hoping to avoid another turn on the “roundy, roundy” as I knew I already would have to ride it one more time on the way out and two times seems plenty to me.
After sneaking through the main area we ended up at the Fragile Kingdom. This part contains a bunch of exhibits including all the big cats so I was pretty damn excited. However, the lions were all asleep so that was kind of a downer but their is always next time. We did luck out though as the new amur tiger, Strannik was out and very active. Not only enormous beyond comprehension at 3 years old he is about as beautiful as any animal I have ever seen. You can read more about him on the zoo website but for the sake of making your life easier–
- As for the species name, Amur, it comes from the Amur River which runs through a region in eastern Asia where the tigers can be found. An endangered species, it is estimated that there are only between 200-400 individuals living in their range of China, Russia, Siberia, and Manchuria.
- Strannik’s presence requires no roaring to impress. Actually, it is pretty rare to hear tigers roar. They do not need to vocalize as much as lions do. Unlike lions, tigers usually live alone, except during the mating season or when a mother is rearing a cub. These cats communicate in quieter ways, like marking trees with urine and scratches. This helps to alert other tigers that they are (or were) in the area.
Seeing Strannik alone, and maybe the polar bear, were worth the membership fee to me. The rest of the day went great as we enjoyed the zoo quality food (I honestly love boiled hot dogs and stale popcorn) and we were able to pick up a few souvenirs including a stuffed tiger and gorilla (official names still pending). To anyone in the Chicago area I highly suggest spending a day or two at the zoo this summer as it is a truly perfect day. Maybe even join.
And yes, I did ride the “roundy, roundy” again and this time on an accommodating panda and I loved every second of it.