Lions, tigers and (a lack of) polar bears – oh my!

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Over Memorial Day weekend a couple of weeks ago, we had the chance to do something that I’d been wanting to do for quite some time. We took our girls to the zoo. Not our small local one which we love (but have been to many times) but the zoo that I remember my parents taking me to when I was little, the Detroit Zoo.

It wasn’t the first time there, at least for Abbi and Hannah – but the last time they went, they were still so little that they don’t remember it at all. And I wasn’t with them that time, so I hadn’t ever had the chance to experience ‘my’ zoo with my kids. Until this trip – something we’d been talking about doing last summer but never managed to do, so I was determined that we’d make the 2+ hour drive there this year. And we did. 🙂

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On this trip, we were joined by my friend Mary and her family (minus their 15-year-old, who was home sick). Hannah was thrilled to have her best friend, Emma exploring the zoo with us, and Becca loved having her friend there too, 4-year-old, Eric. We’d last explored The Henry Ford with Mary’s family a couple of years ago, and it was fun to experience the Detroit Zoo with them this time too.

Our zoo trip was on a day that was forecasted to be hot and sunny, with a chance of a scattered storm. We went prepared with water bottles for everyone and were glad to see misting stations along the way as we walked through the zoo. My girls each carried their own small backpack with their water bottle and snacks – and all three of them had cameras to record our trip with. Abbi and Hannah had a couple of our older digital cameras that had long since been upgraded, and Becca carried her Fisher-Price Kid Tough camera. I was excited to see the zoo through their lenses and I’ll share some of their photos later. I had my camera as well (of course), so this time I’m sharing the zoo as seen through my lens.

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We were lucky enough to have several of the animals out and about and feeling frisky – like the tiger who decided to act like a pussycat for a bit and roll around in the grass, and the lion who was enjoying a drink from his local pond. A few of the animals were spending the hot afternoon in a bit of shade – so it became a bit of a challenge to find some of them, like the rhinos whose habitat definitely camouflages them.

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DetroitZoo2012 103We saw just about everything there was to see at the Detroit Zoo that day – missing only a few animals and one building (the aviary). Unfortunately, the one animal that Hannah had been dying to see – her favorite polar bears, were not enjoying the bright sunny day so much. With the exception of one lone female (seen from a distance), whom we were told does actually love the heat and prefers to sun herself rather than swim when she has the chance, we didn’t see any polar bears at all.

We’d been looking forward to showing Hannah the ‘Arctic Ring of Life’ exhibit where you can walk through a tunnel built inside the polar bear and seal exhibit and watch them swim overhead. Although we didn’t see any polar bears that day, we did get the chance to watch one of the seals swimming by, which was pretty cool too. And Hannah got a couple of cuddly polar bear friends to take home with her instead, to add to her plush polar bear collection.

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Hannah wasn’t the only one who took a stuffed animal friend home from the zoo – Abbi chose a penguin (one of her favorite animals) that folds inside-out into a pillow, and Becca picked out a small lion as well as a lion water bottle carrier. She’s always had a fondness for lions – the plush kind anyway. She didn’t seem terribly impressed by the real, live version – but was very excited to see the giraffes and zebras.

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There’s so much more to tell – we had lunch, visited the reptile and penguin houses, and the kids rode on the carousel. I’ll leave the rest for another post – but want to end on what was probably one of the kids’ favorites from the day, especially on such a hot one… Ice cream!

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My family received free admission to the Detroit Zoo in exchange for coverage on both my site and at (post coming soon). No other compensation was received for this post and we paid for our transportation to and from Detroit as well as our own food, activities and souvenirs while at the zoo. All opinions stated here are 100% my own or those of my family or friends.