Billed as “America’s First Zoo” with the mission of connecting people with wildlife, Philadelphia Zoo is a relatively small, inner city zoo that does a decent job of presenting animals and their habitats to general public. As a family we have enjoyed many zoos and this one, understandably, feels dated with its 19th century park design. Even so, they are working hard to innovate, for example, with the award winning Zoo360 – a series of animal trails which allow some of the primates and big cats to walk around in aerial mesh tunnels to explore other parts of the zoo.
Big Cat Falls allows visitors to enjoy close up encounters with lions, tigers and snow leopards. As we approached, a large male lion stood up and, excitedly, I called to the boys to come and see “the big daddy lion.” Even before the words were fully out of my mouth, I instantly regretted it: Said “daddy lion” was making his amorous intentions, with what I am assuming was “mummy lion,” patently clear. John and Teddy were either too engrossed in their conversation to notice or too full of disdain for the affectionate display to stop but Alex, well, no such luck. Being the youngest of three boys, Alex only has one volume setting; I call it “Deaf-Com 1!” – he communicates like we are all deaf and when you first hear it, you assume there must be a major incident. Anyhow, there we were in Big Cat Falls, which just moments earlier had been deserted, suddenly surrounded by crowds as Alex began to give a moment by moment commentary at Deaf-Com1. “Look Mummy, that daddy lion is biting the mummy lion…look Daddy…”
All I could think of to say was “Let’s go and find the tigers.” Alex didn’t move. I looked at Nick for help only to find that he had his hand clamped over his mouth to stifle the laughter as his body shook and the tears ran down his face.
I walked away.
After lunch we took the boys to the Please Touch Museum. By now you will have gathered that we are a family who really enjoy museums so we had high hopes for this one. Aimed at younger children, this is not a museum in the conventional sense; it is more of an indoor role playing park with areas set up for the children to play – a hospital, a garage, a house and garden where you can water the plants, amongst others. Alex and I were invited to go and make “sugar skulls” so, with no idea what was involved, we did. We mixed sugar and plaster into skull shaped molds and then decorated them with paint and feathers. It was sticky and messy and Alex loved it. The only down side is that we now have to carry this around the world with us:
I’m limited to 3 T-shirts, but we have to bring a sugar skull. And I’ve still got no idea what it’s for.