Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Day at the Toledo Zoo

I like zoos. When I was a kid, trips to the zoo (usually Binder Park in Battle Creek or John Ball in Grand Rapids) were fun and educational. I saw so many animals I never would have had the chance to see any other way. As an adult, I have learned about all the different rescue and conservation efforts that zoos around the world have undertaken. Most animals (the not lazy ones) are probably happier in the wild, but there are a great many species that would be extinct or closer to extinction if not for these rescue efforts.

Having visited the Detroit Zoo last year with my roommate Kimmy, we decided this year that we would check out the Toledo Zoo, which so many of our friends and coworkers have insisted to us is "way better" than the Detroit Zoo. We were joined this trip by my loving boyfriend Greg, who is a good sport about going along with our antics and general goofiness. (His occasional goofiness came out at the zoo and was caught on camera!)

We never did decide if the Toledo Zoo was "better," but it definitely seemed quite a bit bigger. Greg said it was even bigger than when he was a kid. Since the weather was getting chilly, I think a lot of the animals were hanging out trying to keep warm, so we saw a lot of sleepy piles of fur. That's okay, though. At least we got to see them! And the weather stayed mostly pleasant.

The thing about the Toledo Zoo that everyone seemed so keen on was the Aquarium. I was expecting something bigger, but considering we were there on possibly the last day of the aquarium building being open before it underwent major remodeling that they expect to take years, it may well turn into something just as spectacular as I was imagining. The aquarium certainly had a lot of different kinds of fish, and we did spend a god amount of time there. However, it was only one building among many at the zoo, not an attraction onto itself. 

As you may have noticed from the pictures on this page, there are a number of statues and so forth that offer great photo opportunities! There is also, of course, face painting for a nominal fee, though none of us had it done. Speaking of paying for extras, the food, I thought, was quite reasonably priced and really pretty tasty. Kimmy got chicken tenders while Greg and I got burgers and fries. And it really was one tasty burger. The Carnivore Cafe had a surprising variety of offerings. 

Our visit lasted pretty much from open to close, and we had to rush through the last view exhibits before being ushered out the exit. If you go to the zoo, definitely plan to spend the whole day there. Naturally, we had to swing by the gift shop on the way out, but I was really disappointed by their merchandise. I'd been hoping to pick up a souvenir T-shirt, but the only kind they offered were "unisex," meaning designed for men. 

The only complaint that Kimmy had was that the animal enclosures seemed too small for the animals. I wondered if perhaps there were other accommodations elsewhere, and these were just their daytime hangouts. The winter quarters for certain animals that we passed by, though, did seems quite small and dull to me, too. The Toledo Zoo is no San Diego Zoo Safari Park (formerly known as the Wild Animal Park), but it is a very worthy zoo, and definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.

Surprisingly (to me, a Michigander), there are a number of things to do in Toledo. There's the Toledo Museum of Art, the Imagination Station, and the recently rechristened Col. James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship (which is only open through Labor Day on the weekends, so I'll have to wait until next summer to see that one). I think we all agreed that there are definite reasons to return to Toledo for further exploration. Since it's only a 30 to 45 minute drive away, it seems kind of silly not to.

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