The benchmark of any young child’s life rests on the inaugural visit to stare and glare at animals they would never see in their own backyard, and are happily ensconced in impenetrable habitats (one would hope). With two years worth of anticipation ready to burst, my mother and I took Cutter and Scout to the Philadelphia Zoo last week. She at not even six months old has easily surpassed the list of firsts from her brother’s early beginnings.
Anxious mother, first child – Unflappable mommy, second child.
It was in fact, my mother’s birthday, and she adamantly proclaimed that indeed it would give her no greater joy than to watch her grandson experience ‘all them animals’ in person. And so we set to tour the Zoo.
I can substantiate without a shadow of a doubt, she was not disappointed.
We tactfully chose not to tell Cutter where we were headed until well on our way, at which point he proclaimed, “We celebrate Mimi’s birthday at the zoo! Oh, boy – fun!”
Despite a construction snafu in the parking lot, our trip was sublimely perfect. The weather was the balmiest it has been in months, Scout let out nary a peep as we traversed the animal kingdom, and Cutter exuberantly raced from animal to animal discovering new habitats, culinary appetites, and proof that yes, giraffes really do have long necks.
Perhaps the highlight came at the discovery of the hippos. At first visit the recipient of Miss Gayla‘s Christmas yearnings were indoors dining on their morning chow, but at second the river horses themselves had appeared and were headed down to the water’s edge just in front of Cutter. It could not have been more perfectly scripted. The kid was in his very own candy store.
The supreme letdown of the day came when both my mother and I realized that there was in fact, no elephant. Oops. My mother ceased all mention of finding a baby elephant and instead purchased a plush variety to appease the constant questioning emanating from his mouth. As any two year-old would be, he was successfully distracted and we continued our trek avoiding any further mention of the obtrusive absence of the pachyderm.
As we concluded our day, it was clear that we had discovered a potential goldmine for Cutter. His love of animals has never been questioned, and the day confirmed ten times over his adoration for all creatures great and small. After his nap that afternoon he asked if we could go back and celebrate Mimi’s birthday at the zoo again. Next year, kiddo!
|Polar Bears, sadly none in the water to watch|
|River horses enjoying their chow|
|And of course he found ANOTHER hippo|
|Clutching the only elephant to be found in the zoo that day|
|Proof that Scout and I were actually there|
|Mimi & Cutter at the zoo celebrating her birthday|