|Weekend with the animals at the zoo|
|Local Content - Staff blogs|
|Written by Stan Ashbee|
|Wednesday, 23 January 2013 20:54|
This past weekend was a tad bit on the chilly side but what better way to spend a Saturday than at one of southern Alberta’s premiere attractions — the Calgary Zoo, inside and out. Of course, many families huddled inside the cafeteria and the many indoor facilities housing the critters, both big and small but the brisk walks between buildings and displays were well worth it, especially to partake in the fishiness of the new penguin exhibit. It was as if the penguins seemed at home in southern Alberta’s -15 or below temperatures. These were no Penguins of Madagascar, mind you. Happy Feet penguins, maybe.
In the winter, it is often difficult to find a family fun-filled activity without freezing body parts off and the Calgary Zoo is an alternative for those brave enough to venture outside but also keep warm in the confines of the various dwellings of some of the coolest animals from faraway locales. And most importantly, within driving distance from Taber. Calgary is a familiar-to-most city with another family-friendly but mind-frazzling franchise, Chuck E. Cheese, a good way to finish off the trip, as long as you miss the rush hours and birthday parties at the funnery.
It’s amazing how many families trek to the zoo, in the middle of winter, to view the many animals that children and adults alike seem to dig. I think back to when I was knee high to a grasshopper and I went to the Toronto Zoo with my dad as a field trip with my elementary school, as at the time I lived in Welland, Ontario and I recall visits to African Lion Safari, even though the outdoor adventureland wasn’t even close to Africa. Fun was had by all, just like this past weekend. It was cool, and not just the weather. Where else, than on perhaps Animal Planet, can you see monkeys chillin’ on trees (luckily not flingin’ crap at onlookers, including yours truly) or hippos eatin’ at feedin’ time or penguins swimmin’ by while visitors try to stay dry in the splash zone? The Calgary Zoo or any animal sanctuary, facility or animal-inspired attraction can be a lot of fun for the entire family on any given day, especially for a spontaneous weekend getaway. Coaldale has Alberta Birds of Prey and Drumheller has Reptile World, to name a few.
What is it that attracts us to animal attractions? First off, they’re kind of neat. Secondly, I’m sure I won’t come face-to-face with a tiger or lion in a jungle somewhere any time soon and I’m kind of a scaredy cat with the thought of crossing paths with a grizzly bear on a hike in the Canadian wilderness. So, the Calgary Zoo or a bird sanctuary or reptiles (behind glass) offer me a chance to see nature without getting it on me (much like Melman the giraffe from the Madagascar movies tends to think). And sloths (even Sid from the Ice Age films) are kinda cute, cuddly and mimics my style (lethargic and slow-moving) and the peacocks and flamingos at the Calgary Zoo, I’m told by an authority on peacocks and flamingos, are awesome.
A few additional dy-no-mite things kids and families can do at the Calgary Zoo include sleepovers, junior zookeeper for a day programs and breakfast with the penguins. For adults, the zoo even offers an upcoming Valentine’s Day evening of romance — animal style, as couples can learn about the love life of penguins or why the male praying mantis is doomed from the start. An interesting way to spend love day, that’s for sure. In the past, my kids and I have visited the Calgary Zoo for their Boo At the Zoo during Halloween and Zoo Lights over the Christmas holidays. Both, definitely worth the trip, in my humble opinion. Locally, at the Birds of Prey centre in Coaldale my kids helped sponsor an owl named Mike, which is a wise project the centre offers to families wishing to donate to a worthwhile cause (I’m sure kids still kind of like owls because of Harry Potter’s owl, Hedwig).
We’ve collectively accepted animals in our homes and hearts as pets, we’ve adored animals both close and from afar from Canada and abroad and we cherish those animals depicted on TV and in films from Lassie, Benji, Marmaduke, Garfield and Snoopy to Flipper, Willy, Nemo and Jaws (okay, maybe not the shark in Jaws) to Alvin, Simon, Theodore, Bugs Bunny and Tweety.
We love our animals, both in cartoon form and in the real world — be it on farms, petting zoos, in the wilderness or at zoos and centres, dedicated to the day-to-day care of animals. Next time your family is bored and says there’s nothing to do, venture out to an animal-inspired event (perhaps volunteer as a family at an animal shelter) or check out an attraction, near or far. In the words of the famous and beloved cereal-ized tiger, it will be “Grrr-eat!”