Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Farewell to Nocturnals

So, Sunday Janice and I went to the zoo for the first time in a long time. We usually go to Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle and Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma once or twice each per year, but last year was so crowded that we wound up missing both.

Our visit now was prompted by Janice's seeing the news that they were shutting down the Day & Night Exhibit at the end of this month (i.e., only two weeks away); Yet another casualty of the Great Recession, like the Kent Animal Shelter (the county's funding for this only runs through the end of June,* after which the city has to find a way of paying for it themselves) and Renton Library (which recently voted on whether or not to abandon its independent system after ninety-odd years and just become a branch of the King County Library System; haven't heard how that one came out); the zoo simply can't afford to keep all its exhibits going, so they're shutting down one of their oldest buildings that needs the most maintenance/renovation.

Since I'm much taken with turtles and bats, we made sure to pay a farewell visit. The good news is that it turns out they're keeping the Reptile House open (we celebrated by petting a snake). Also, though the Night House is shutting down, they're keeping some of the animals, like the fruit bats, and moving them in alongside other exhibits. For more details, check this link: http://www.zoo.org/Page.aspx?pid=1158**

The bad news is that the vampire bats were already gone, though the fruit bats put on a good display.

Still, we had a good visit: in addition to the reptiles and nocturnals, we had a great time seeing the tigers and snow leopards. I got to stare eye-to-eye with a komono dragon (odd, since they usually ignore visitors, but it was definitely tracking me), we went into not one but two birdcage exhibits (though we were too late to feed the little seed-eaters). We saw the little giraffe, the hippos and elephants having their nom, the lions in repose, and two peacocks keeping an eye on the popcorn stand as it closed down (I have a feeling they clean up any spills). Wrong time of year for the raptors, unfortunately, but that's just a good reason to come back in the spring.

All in all, a good day. Between this visit, and our having passed by the Seattle Aquarium the day before on our way up to see the Sculpture Park, we'll definitely have to do a little more zoo-ing this year.

--John R.

*it was to be the end of January, but they got an extension.
**didn't see any mention there of what their plans are for the owl (a frogmouth, I think) we saw in there. Perhaps it'll join the other owls in the raptor exhibit.

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