It also happens to have a world-class playground which doesn't hurt one bit. The kids played there for nearly an hour at the beginning of our visit, and demanded that we return even at the end when our feet were about to fall off.
The ugly grizzly bear was hiding from the sun. It got unexpectedly quite warm. Or perhaps he's still in mourning for Knut, the polar bear who was born here back in 2006 became a star of the zoo and who unexpected died earlier this year.
One of the things we love about the zoo is the architecture of the animal houses. Chickens get half timbers, bison get totem poles and giraffes get minarets. Isn't it cute?
And we love the restaurant too. Instead of microwaved pizza and corn dog bites, they have real meals with real food. Sitting right on the edge of a pond. This has been something of a tradition too, ever since we came at ate "hunter's lunch" with Betsy in 1998.
The mongooses or mongeese were very personable and snuggled up to each other like some Dr. Seussian Bed of a Jedd.
We had wandered back to a quiet part of the big cat house and there was a huge striped face staring at us. At first we thought he was fake. Then it scared us. It was just an hour before feeding time and I think he was coming back to check on the food. I've never been so close to a tiger before! Of course Will just tried to show him his jugular.
Then we saw the whole lion family, who were obligingly showing off their cubs. They wrassled and bit and chased their mother's tail and made everyone coo.
We loved this giraffe because it looks like it's getting a McFarland-style time out (called Nase an die Wand -- you have to put your nose on the wall and count it off). No doubt you will see some McFarlands doing time this summer -- Rob and I love time out photos in memorable spots!
The zoo had had a very busy and fecund spring. They had new baby piglets, a calf, orangutang, chimp, the lions and this week-old deer. It kept saying "snack time!" and its mother kept saying "bath time!" She was winning in this shot.
Joss finally got to see the zebras, the panda bear and indeed all the bears he'd been promised when we went to the Hogle zoo.
And so much more! Joss and I walked around and saw sea lions, seals and penguins while the others went to the aquarium. Maddie and Rob (those overachievers) even walked to the zoo extension where the keep wallabies and pygmy horses. The boys were only too happy to go back to the playground and get sandy, sweaty and pink-cheeked.
We were there nine hours!