"" Writer's Wanderings: The Phoenix Zoo

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Phoenix Zoo

After a few days in the dry Arizona desert, we were still looking for things to do in the mornings. What, I wondered, would the zoo look like? What kinds of different animals would they have in a climate like this? Surely they would have to have some grass for grazing. I was beginning to crave the sight of soft grass more than what I saw on the ballfield in the afternoon.

We found the zoo on our map and struck out to explore. We were in for a real treat!

There were trees!! Taller than six feet! There was shade from the sun and yes, grass too. The Phoenix Zoo is nicely laid out and the walkways easy to navigate. While I wouldn't want to be there in the heat of the summer--even if it is a dry heat, it was a perfect place to spend some time on a day that promised to be unseasonably warm.

Not only did we see more trees, but there were also a lot more birds. I guess that makes sense. We even spotted a couple of hummingbirds--one which took a moment to pose for me. We discovered a flock of flamingoes--swimming! In all the times I have ever observed flamingoes, I'd never seen them actually swimming in water. Of course they were being herded by a couple of mean looking white pelicans who didn't want them in the water or on the shore. Poor guys.

And while on the subject of birds, there was the familiar cry that sounds like a high pitched "help meeee" that told us peacocks were around somewhere. Sure enough we found several. And one who mixed with the crowd.

While the zoo had a sampling of the usual mix of animals--giraffes, lions, tigers, etc., there were not a lot of bears and the elephant they had was Asian and much smaller than our African elephants in the zoo back home. He/she was playful though.

There was also an exhibit of warthogs taking life easy-don't worry, be happy. Several exhibits of different types of goats which I'm sure were adaptable to the climate. The baboons were a big hit with people and then we discovered a special exhibit, Monkey Village, that allowed you to go inside close up with the squirrel monkeys. Of course before going in we were warned that the little darlings continuously mark their territory. Therefore, we were told to be sure and disinfect our hands should we touch anything inside.

Monkey Village was a hoot. The squirrel monkeys stayed in the trees for the most part away from the visitors but close enough to create a unique experience. A real must see/do if you visit.

Along the way, we also passed by the conservation center where the zoo is helping to repopulate natural areas with the endangered Chiricahua Leopard Frog. There wasn't anything going on yet in March, but the place was ready to start receiving eggs to hatch as soon as the season was upon them.

Shady paths, a little grass, and what seemed to me to be a tad more humidity--perhaps from all the water ponds and streams, all led to a very pleasant morning at the zoo.

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