Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Do The Zoo! With bonus Haiku.

I don't know that I could count the number of times I've taken my kids to the Oklahoma City Zoo. When I just had the one, we would go weekly when the weather was nice. It provided a great place for a little exercise and fresh air.

My boy was born a social butterfly, he likes to be out where the people are. When I would pack him in the car for a quick trip to the grocery store, he would cry when he realized we came back home and weren't going anywhere else. He did not get this from me. At the zoo he would happily ride in his stroller, soaking up the scenery, and even on the hottest of hot Oklahoma days, the trees and air conditioned buildings provided relief from the heat.

After my daughter was born, we'd pack the stroller and he would toddle along, not always happily. Our walks were shorter then. Once she could sit up, we'd bring the wagon and I'd get a work out tugging the kids along behind.

Now that they're older, we still go to the zoo a lot (thankfully they travel under their own steam, though my shoulders still ache a little from the sense memories of the wagon), and I try to focus on one or two areas of the zoo so that next time there would always be something to see.

Selfie! Using an actual camera.
Old-school selfie time!
Make a silly face for me
Oh crap; turned it off
On our first day of spring break I planned a zoo outing for us, but in order to make it interesting, I searched first for a scavenger hunt... and came up empty-handed. There are plenty of options for large groups or for small kids, but nothing for my tweens. The kids were bummed, so I suggested we make our own. What questions could we come up with on our visit to the zoo?

Spencer decided all of his questions would be in the form of haiku:
We go to the zoo
Sun shines brightly upon us
While monkeys fling poo
Spoiler alert: all the questions were not in haiku format. But that didn't stop me from making some up myself.

High-tech scavengers, taking pictures along the way.
Kids with cameras
Shooting zoo life adventures
Leaving their footprints
I find a notebook and a pen and it's decided that the kids will come up with questions at every place we stop. When we arrive, one grabs the map and one grabs the notebook (both of which, it should be noted, I ended up carrying) and we were off. First stop: pachyderm building. We brainstorm questions but realize that all the clues we offer could apply to every building in the zoo (What building contains the largest animals? The one with the pachyderms! Or the one with the Galapagos tortoises! Or the one with the giant snakes! Or the one with the... you get the picture).

We did come up with some good questions, though:
  1. Which building houses the oldest animals?
  2. What color is a zebra under its fur?
  3. What's the meanest cat in the Cat Forest?
  4. Why are flamingos pink?
  5. Which building is the oldest?
Answers can be found are at the end of the post.

Swinging in the renovated playground. Not pictured: me on the swings.
I love playground swings
Reaching skyward, pumping legs
Hey! Don't kick that kid

While the kids played, I spent some quality time
sitting on a bench, enjoying the sunshine
under this here giant ball of mistletoe.
I sat for a spell
Sunshine and mistletoe

Alas; no kisses
But coming up with the questions got old. Instead, we went on a hunt for statues. Our zoo has a collection of very nice metal animal-themed sculptures throughout, and it would be our goal to find them and mark them on our zoo map. The kids happily walked and sometimes even ran to find statues--a first for us, because there is usually always a point where the kids begin to whine. But we were on a quest; a Jake and Elwood Blues-worthy "Mission from God." We were going to capture them all.

Spoiler alert: we did not capture them all.

But we did find 13* of them, including one that used to stand outside the dolphin exhibit. There are more of them, though how many more I'm not entirely sure of because the few people I asked seemed confused by the question. Oh, and the * is because the paper where we painstakingly recorded our questions and findings was lost.


But still; on that first day of spring break, we went to the zoo and made our own scavenger hunt. And it was fun.

top row: giraffe statue; elephant statue; bamboo forest
middle row: rhino statue; hungry giraffe; old-school dolphin statue
bottom row: he was giving me bunny ears, so I picked his nose; tortoise statue; Lauren with the Komodo Dragon

We also got to see a chameleon (which we've never seen before) eat a cricket (which was way cool but took longer than this little video clip).

top row: tiger statue, bear statue, gorilla statue giving Spencer a piggyback
middle row: chimpanzee statue, playing elephant statue, helpful signage Lauren found photo-worthy
bottom row: Spencer, lion tamer; lion statue with other people's kids; scary snake

Answers to the questions:
  1. Island Life building (Galapagos Tortoises)
  2. Zebras have black skin under their fur; their stripes are like a fingerprint, no two are exactly alike
  3. The Black Footed Cat, an endangered African cat, looks like a benign house cat but pound for pound is the meanest cat in the zoo.
  4. The beta carotene in brine shrimp and krill eaten by the birds cause flamingo feathers to look pink
  5. The Herpetarium is the oldest building at the zoo

All media in this post are the sole property of me, not usable without permission.


  1. Great way to make a fun activity educational - great pics, too!

  2. Looks like a fun time to learn at the zoo! So much fun when you're a kid and adult...but so much more tiring it seems as an adult! haha

  3. This would make a great book idea - family project! I enjoyed the adventure, creativity, togetherness, photos, and the haiku (too)!

  4. Oh, much of my time was spent telling the kids to run ahead to find the statue--while I took advantage of a slower pace. :)
    I love pulling learning into our adventures out--even though my kids are in school, I consider myself a "homeschooling" parent, as we all should be. I feel it's our job to teach our kids what we want to them to know!

  5. It's been a few years since I last got to visit the OKC Zoo, and it's so much fun! I miss the dolphins, though...