I haven’t visited a museum in Atlanta since the Highlander was born. We went to the Aquarium when he was still sling sized, but I don’t think he remembers it very well. But we did get a chance to go to the zoo a couple of months ago.
Slacker that I am, though I didn’t take any pictures.
The thing about visiting a zoo with a toddler is that he has completely different tastes than you might think he has, or that the zoo people think he has. So, for example, when given the opportunity to visit the “childrens” zoo, with the kangaroo and the little train and the climbing wall, the Highlander passed. He wanted to see what was up the hill.
So up the hill we went. The Atlanta Zoo is set up in sort of large loop on a large hill on the south side, inside Grant Park and near the Atlanta Cyclorama. The Cyclorama boasts the “worlds largest painting”, which commemorates the sacking, looting, and burning of Atlanta by the United States Military. I’m not actually looking forward to explaining the Civil War to the Highlander or the Phoenix, especially since I’m in a mixed marriage. Grrl means well, but she’s from Connecticut. She just doesn’t get the War of Northern Aggression thing. And skeptically speaking, this is a topic I’m torn on. I mean, yes, slavery was evil, but on the other hand, are we politically better off in an involuntary union of States than we would be in a voluntary union of States?
Fortunately, the zoo doesn’t raise any of these questions. It’s just a nice, shady, well vendored strip of concrete leading you past various fair sized enclosures containing animals of various descriptions. We skipped the Pandas, since the line was about 50,000 people long, and went straight on up to see the Komodo Dragon.
You’d think that a 8 foot long lizard would freak a two year old out, especially when it’s only 3 or 4 feet away. You would be wrong. The Highlander was fascinated by the giant predatory reptile. He asked me all about it, what it was doing, why it was doing it, why it was sleepy, why it was a reptile, why reptiles sleep a lot, why reptiles are ectotherms, why they evolved that way… and so on. So we pushed on to see the orangutans.
You would think that a 2 year old would be pretty relaxed about a orangutan, especially an orangutan that is 30 or 40 feet away, on the other side of a mote, in a tree. You would be wrong. The Highlander is terrified of monkeys and apes. He hates monkeys like I hate emperor scorpions or pickle-and-onion sandwiches. His dread of monkeys is such that, after visiting the zoo, he has been convinced that there is a bad monkey at the gate of our house every night. And as far as he was concerned, once that orangutan reached out its arm and levered itself over a 5 foot gap by it’s fingertips, it was a monkey.
As were the gorillas. And of course, all the monkeys.
He was able to look at the smaller monkeys, but as he said, “No daddy. I no like it!”
Not a rocking success. So we went on to the tree house. The tree house was pretty cool. It is in a tree, as advertised, and the deck of the building opens into an open air aviary. The birds were not separated from the vistors by anything (except their own good sense) and so it is possible to get fairly close to them. Highlander loves birds, especially large birds, and especially up close, so this went well.
From here we went down the hill, past the Giraffes (“I no like him”) the Zebras (ditto), Elephants and various other savanna creatures that the Highlander was not happy about. Fortunately, there were flamingos right by the exit. You would think that a two-year-old wouldn’t care for a bunch of stupid, smelly, boring birds standing around looking smug.
You would be wrong.
ZooAtlanta is located in Grant Park, about a half mile south of I-20 on Boulevard*, in Atlanta, GA, and is open at 9:30 every day except Christmas and New Years. I’m told they have Pandas.
* Yes, Atlanta has a street named Boulevard. No, it is not Boulevard Place, Boulevard Avenue, Boulevard Road, Boulevard Street, drive, parkway, highway, circle, or even Boulevard boulevard; just plain Boulevard. This gives Google Maps fits.