Friday, April 10, 2015

A Day at The Zoo

Like most of the days I had hanging out with Hannah, this one started with questionable weather and a bus ride. It was grey outside and a little chilly but it didn't seem like it was going to rain much and the forecast said we were good so it seemed like the opportune time to visit the zoo.

Wellington Zoo is one of my favourite places in the whole city. I've probably visited it about 30 times in my life dating back to when I first moved to Wellington as a five year old. I absolutely love seeing the animals and they've done some awesome re - designing over the last few years to make the place a lot easier to get around and a lot more interesting in general.

The re - design has the zoo and it's animals divided up into continents so that largely all of the animals from Africa are in the same place, all of the ones from Asia are in the same place and all of the ones from Australia are in the same place. Each area is decorated up to suit it's geographical theme and there's a lot of interactive zones that fit in with the theme as well.

My favourite approach to looking around the zoo as an adult is to follow the talk schedule around and listen to the presentations by keepers about as many animals as possible. We got to the zoo just before 11 in the morning which left about 5 talks for us to catch.

We started with the chimps, my favourite animal at the zoo and always the most entertaining talk. They basically feed them and chat a bit about the group of chimps they have there and the hierarchy of them. It's always fun watching them catch the fruit being thrown into them by the keeper and watching the impatient ones clapping their hands to try and coerce the keeper into throwing more for them.

From there we had the giraffe talk, another favourite of mine. I've always loved the ridiculous nature of giraffes. They're so gangly and silly looking and their tongues are intriguing. The best part of the giraffe talk is that they give you some branches with leaves on them to try and feed the giraffes with. I have been able to feed them in the past but on this particular day they weren't having any of our nonsense.

At this point it started to rain on us a little bit so we found cover and decided it was probably an okay time for lunch. We hadn't brought food with us this time so made use of the zoo cafe. I bought myself a coffee and some chips while Hannah indulged in traditional NZ fare in the form of a meat pie.

After lunch we decided to take a look around the Australia area of the zoo, figuring that if we took our time there it would tie in well and have us in the right place for the Tasmanian Devil talk. 

The Australia exhibit is in my opinion the most well set up area of the zoo. You walk in through half of a house and come out the other side with a fence separating the two areas to highlight the whole neighbours thing between NZ and Australia. 

All throughout the area there are kangaroos, wallabies and several kinds of bird wandering free around the path and garden areas as you walk between enclosures. They have a relatively recent Tasmanian Devil enclosure with (I think) two of them currently living there and a Dingo enclosure further round.

This area of the zoo also has the coolest interactive stuff. Continuing with the neighbours theme there are letterboxes dotted around the place with information about the animals there, a couple of staged washing lines set up, a trampoline for kids to use and a sandpit next to the Dingoes that invited children to "dig like a Dingo." 

Once the Tasmanian Devil talk was done we decided to wander around the zoo for a while on our own schedule. We stopped by the meerkat enclosure for a while and watched some people having a Meerkat experience tour feed them and hang out with them inside of their habitat for a bit. We also made stops by the spider monkey enclosure near the zoo entrance and the tiger enclosure. We tried earlier to see the lions but they were sensibly avoiding the cold weather inside their den which you can't see into.

When we'd seen everything we were interested in seeing we checked on the talk schedule again to see if there was anything interesting left. The Sun Bear talk was yet to come so we went over to the Asian area to check that out. 

That talk was really cool because in their new enclosure there is a gate where the keeper can lure one of the bears down to be fed and get him to stretch out on the gate so that you can see all of his underbelly and claws from about 2 metres away. It was the closest I've ever been to a real bear and quite the intimidating experience.

We were both pretty tired at that point and ready to call it a day. We headed back over towards the entrance/ exit area and checked in with the Otters on the way out to see what they were up to. We tried to see the Little Blue Penguins next to the Otters as well but they were hiding from us.

It was an awesome day checking out the zoo and I'm glad the weather held up enough for us to make an enjoyable time out of it. Wellington Zoo is a great place to spend the day and is in my humble and unbiased opinion, the best zoo in New Zealand.

The next post here will be about a friends play that Hannah and I went to see before she left to go down to Otago for school.

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