My brother Isaac and I were home alone with my two younger brothers, Asa and Zane, this past week. Mom and Dad were on vacation for an anniversary, so it was up to us to keep the house from burning down and keep them happy.
The week went very well! The highlight of the week was our trip to the Birmingham Zoo last Tuesday. My girlfriend Ashley came up with the idea, so we went for it. I took tons of pictures to share with my parents, and figured they’d work well in a photo essay. Enjoy!
We mounted the steely steed and rode into The Wind. And by The Wind I mean Jack’s. A Jack’s biscuit is the perfect start to any day, especially one so exciting. After meeting up with Ashley, we were off to the Ham! We were there in a jiffy, not a bad drive at all. There was a little pond with loud Macaws just past the entrance. We popped a squat to look at the map and figure out a game plan. We decided to go counterclockwise to hit everything we wanted to see. Zane was pretty disappointed when he saw that the fish we came to see were dead. He didn’t realize those fish were food until he saw the real one, a Largemouth Bass. After passing the carousel (without riding it, by some miracle), we made our way to the Alabama Barn, the contact area that’s similar to a petting zoo. Goats and sheep of every color and size bleated at us as we walked through. With the sweet goat noises still ringing in our ears, we went into Alabama Wilds, a circle of exhibits showcasing some local animals from Alabama and North America. We saw this Black Vulture on the trail. After the vulture, we went over and ruffled the feathers of this Red Tailed Hawk. Just shy of the trail’s exit was the Great Horned Owl. Zane asked me about his eyebrows.The trail opened up to a little pond, where a duck and a turtle greeted us. The birds were appreciated, but the boys were really excited to see this Giant River Otter. After leaving the Alabama Wilds, we headed for the Predator Zone. A gentle incline made the bench up top that much sweeter. We went to the habitats inside before seeing the tigers and lions outside. Apparently Asa and Zane are Ocelot experts since the cats are on a game they play. We continued on and found one of the zoo’s two Black Bears asleep. I looked for a pic-a-nic basket, but couldn’t find one. After a minute or two, the other bear came out. These bears were actually left on a porch on Montana. Uber amounts of character in these Ursulas. The Golden Eagles were much bigger than I imagined. It’s hard to tell here, but they’re further down than it seems. I see why they are famous for more than just their syrup. I rounded a corner and saw two yellow eyes staring at me. I’m too much of a man to say it scared me (not that it did), so I’ll say that it startled me. The Malayan Tiger had already turned around by the time I got the picture, but it was still exciting to be that close to one. We went to the outside section, and the same tiger circled around to stretch his legs a bit. We turned around from the tiger to see the African Lions. The lioness was asleep, but the male struck a majestic pose just as we got there. We found out that trainers would be feeding them soon, so we waited a bit to watch. The trainers called the lions over to the side of the habitat with a fence to feed them and tell us more about them. Lying down, standing up, and whispering (a soft roar) are husbandry behaviors that the lions are rewarded for with ground beef.The husbandry behaviors help the zoo keepers look after the animals, allowing every inch of them to be visually examined for cuts, bruises, or defects. Many times, shots can also be administered without sedating the animal. Cool stuff for sure. We left the big cat area and ran into Red River Hogs. I told Zane to get off the rail because he might fall in. He quickly assured me and said that they’ll only charge, they won’t eat him. I felt a lot better. After walking another 50 feet or so, we found Grant’s Zebras. We watched the zebras for a moment before moving on to Ashley’s favorite animal, the Reticulated Giraffe. They were joined by Ostriches. By then we had circled around to the massive elephant herd. While breaking for lunch a gentle drizzle came upon us. Luckily, we came prepared with two umbrellas.No rain is gonna ruin our zoo day though. “Oh! The primaries!” – Zane RobinsonThe Ring-Tailed Lemurs were curled up to get out of the rain. Zaboomafoo was a hero of mine, so it’s good to see his relatives. De Brazza’s Monkeys were in the next exhibits. This mother was with her baby, who had just celebrated his 1st birthday.The porcupines didn’t have an umbrella, so they took shelter under a rock.This otter exhibit was a wide open habitat with a bridge running over it. We couldn’t find the otters, but the bridge made up for it. I was concerned when we were about to meet the most dangerous animal on earth. But then I was a little underwhelmed. Asa was disappointed when he saw that this orangutan wasn’t real. The real Orangutans were napping to the sound of the rain. The Primates area led right to the Boma Play Area, an African themed play ground. We decided to pass because of the rain, but one activity on the sign caught my eye. Guess which one? We walked over a bit to the Sea Lions. One of them jumped right up to greet us! We came back to the Sea Lion Splash Show a bit later. We saw Geo stand, flip, wave, and do so much more. Geo has learned husbandry behaviors too. It was an entertaining and informative show. The Birds section was right by the Sea Lions, so we strolled over to the aviaries after the show. We were able to investigate some incubating eggs.There were more than a hundred different kinds of birds, each with different colors, sizes, and sounds. We’re looking at Ravens here. There are six different birds in this habitat, definitely a cool one. These tiny birds were by far the loudest. Lots of punch in that tiny package. This Southern Cassowary was staring us down. This picturesque staircase led us to the larger bird habitats. After descending the staircase, we were at the American White Pelican habitat. We stuck around a bit for the feeding. We didn’t know that we would be throwing the fish.But we all did! We then passed by a peacock who refused to show his feathers, despite Ashley’s encouragement. We left him for the flamingos. Hopefully he’s jealous. There were tons of these American Flamingos, they just didn’t come near us. Vanity side-note: I busted out my new Nike’s for the zoo trip. They looked super spiffy and felt like clouds of comfort. Little ponds with turtles were scattered everywhere in the park. Zane always leaned over a bit too far for my comfort. Our last exhibit was the Reptiles! This Monkey-Tailed Skink didn’t move an inch no matter how bad Zane wanted him to. This massive snake (can’t remember if he’s a Boa or Python) was coiled up and still stretched across the habitat. Zane had been going on and on about a Komodo Dragon since we got to the zoo. I couldn’t remember if they had one, so I told him we’d try to find one. He was so excited when we finally did. Asa read the timeline for a Komodo’s life, so he’s an aficionado now. We saved the train ride for last. The Red Diamond Express travels throughout the park and takes us behind a few habitats. She’ll be coming ’round the corner when she comes…Our engineer and tour guide told us tons of interesting facts about the animals and the zoo. There were a few corny jokes in there too.Asa and Zane both got some scenic views of the zoo. The tunnel was fun for sure!Zane had to ring the bell a few times to let them know we had a good ride! The Birmingham Zoo treated us well! Despite a little rain, we had a wonderful time seeing all that the zoo has to offer. If you’re anywhere near the Birmingham area, it’s worth the trip!We had an awesome day at the zoo. We went hard, bro. The ride home was pretty quiet..