Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Omaha Zoo: Catch Up Post

I mentioned recently that I'll be posting a few catch up posts since I took a blogging hiatus from Oct - Dec. Oops! My blog is a virtual photo album of our lives so I hope to update on those months over the next few weeks.

This year for the first time ever, ever, ever, ever, I missed Thanksgiving with my family. Because we are here at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas for one year for Honey to attend school as required by the Army, we are at the mercy of his school schedule. And that of course limited our options for traveling "home" for Thanksgiving.

So we decided to use what little time we had to take a family trip to the Omaha Zoo. (Oh and I cooked my first ever Thanksgiving feast for us to enjoy! More on that later...)

The Omaha Zoo is unrivaled, except maybe by the San Diego Zoo, as the best zoo in the country! And it was hands down the most amazing zoo experience I have ever had!

We left on a Tuesday afternoon and drove 2.5 hours to Omaha, Nebraska. 
Of course Cash came with us, he always goes where we go whenever possible!
My little seasoned traveler...
Shameless selfie...
We stayed in downtown Omaha at a surprisingly chic dog-friendly hotel. Honey made our accommodations and he knocked it out of the park!! I was super impressed with not only our hotel but the whole downtown district of Omaha. I wish we could have stayed longer! We went to a fabulous restaurant in the adorable downtown square.
Our hotel was very kid-friendly as well and gave Parker a travel bath toy set!
Parker loved how the door to the bathroom (right), bedroom (middle), and coat closet (left) were all in this little hallway and he showed Honey and Cash how to open and close each of them.
The next morning we were SO excited to go to the zoo!! We had a quick pancake breakfast, one of Parker's favorites, and then we headed out!
The zoo was amazing! iBecause it gets very cold in Nebraska during November, the zoo is equipped with indoor and outdoor exhibits. All of the animals have indoor enclosures for this time of the year so we didn't miss a thing!

First up was the rain forest. Parker was so overwhelmed he didn't know where to look first!
The animals were not in cages so they were all around us! It was like we were in their world. (The dangerous ones were safe distances away.) We saw all different kinds of monkey's, birds, bats, anteaters, and crocodiles. The walls and ceiling of the massive enclosure were camouflaged like an actual rain forest. It felt so real!!
There were plenty of fish and turtles in the rain forest exhibit too.
We spent most of the morning in the rain forest and then quickly made our way to lunch.
We ate in a restaurant perched at the top of the rain forest exhibit so we had a great view of the monkeys playing in the tops of the trees! (Parker also took a quick 30 minute nap in my arms. After that he was ready to go again!)
After that we headed to the gorilla enclosure. It was unbelievable to be so close to these massive creatures. The large male was very curious about everything and came very close to us several times.
Parker loved watching them! There was one young gorilla who was putting on a show for all of us! He even got in trouble by his mommy and then made up with her. It was amazing to watch them interact!
It seemed like the gorillas were Parker's favorites.
We were thankful for the indoor exhibits. The high was in the upper 20's so we had to bundle up when we walked outside!
Another incredible exhibit was the desert! It was a huge dome enclosure. Once again many of the animals and birds were not caged in so they ran freely around us!

There was a sign at one point encouraging visitors to "feel the desert sand" which of course I gladly did. Then I asked Honey if he wanted to feel it (it was so soft!). His reply... "No thank you. I've felt enough sand like that to last me a lifetime." I guess any veteran would say that huh?!
Parker was so curious about everything! We loved watching him.

We saw so much more that I didn't include here... the big cat exhibit was one of my favorites! There was a group of year-old lion cubs playing while the pride of adult lions watched. Beautiful tigers and leopards, pumas and cheetahs. So beautiful! The bear dens were another great exhibit. The polar bear seemed very happy in the frigid temps and came nose to nose with our Parker Bear! We also loved seeing the giraffes. We got very up close to them and were just amazed at their size. The night kingdom was really neat. The exhibit is "switched" so that it is dark all day for all the nocturnal animals that live there. The lights are on at night when these animals sleep. After our eyes adjusted, we were blown away watching all the night critters play and swim!

We left just as the zoo was closing after a very full day. Parker slept most of the 2.5 hour drive back home. We are so thankful for the time we have here in Kansas to explore a part of the country that we would most likely not be able to see otherwise. The chance to visit this amazing zoo was such an incredible experience for our little family! We will surely never ever forget it!

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1 comment:

  1. We LOVE the Omaha Zoo! I grew up about an hour away from that zoo, and once we had Marcus I could not wait to bring him! We try to visit every time we go home.
    And, oh my gosh, that first picture of Parker looking around in the rain forest is so awesome. You can see just how amazed he was with it all. Love it!!
    Did you stay in the Old Market? That is my absolute favorite area of Omaha.
    If you ever go back, they also have an incredible children's museum!

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