The Gearhart family – sans Delilah, who was reluctantly left in the kennel – went to Canada last Thursday. One of Sarah’s cousins was getting married up there (a cousin whom Sarah was very close to as a child) on Saturday, and only a zombie apocalypse would have been able to keep her away. We arrived around 1am on Friday morning and with the entire day free, we wanted to do something touristy.
We decided to go to the Toronto Zoo. I doubt Tyler would have enjoyed going on a wine tasting tour, being underage and all, and he’s not tall enough to ride the roller coasters at the amusement park, so it was a no-brainer. I flipped to the back page of the tourist’s guide to the foldout map. The Toronto Zoo wasn’t on it. Confused as to why a tourism guide would list a place of interest but not mark its location on the included map, I walked to the Blazer so I could bring it up on the GPS. I was completely unaware of where we were, in relation to the zoo, and wanted to make sure we weren’t looking at a two hour drive. I read the button names aloud as I pressed them on the touch screen.
"Go to. Point of interest. Near my current location. Categories. Zoo. Search."
The GPS then listed a number of zoos, ordered by their distance from where I was. The first result… The DETROIT ZOO! This left me even more flummoxed than its omission from the tourist guide. I looked to my left and spotted my father-in-law. He had a giant map sprawled across the trunk of his Fiat. He was able to locate the zoo in mere seconds.
He told me, "I hear you could spend an entire day there and still not see everything."
I asked what he and the missus had planned for the day, to which he replied, "We’re driving to Snowball, Ontario."
"Cuz I’ve never been there before."
That’s as good a reason as any, as far as I was concerned. Finally able to get an address programmed into the GPS, Sarah, Tyler and myself began the
33 mile 54km drive. I don’t know any other way to describe the route that the GPS took us on other than to just quote Sarah.
"Are we driving to Deliverance?"
At the mercy of the electronic equivalent of an old man, sitting on his chair with a piece of grass hanging from his mouth, telling us to "…turn right at the old Sunoco station, drive for, oh say, two miles or so, until you see the broken down John Deere. Keep goin’ a little while longer and hang a Louie at Mr. Krenshaw’s dairy farm," we had no option other than to just trust it would get us to our destination. After many twisting roads and two bridges that could only support the weight of one vehicle at a time – No Trucks, the sign read – and was only wide enough for one vehicle (seriously), we did eventually get to the zoo.
Here’s some things you really need to know before you continue reading.
1) This was a Friday
2) It was beautiful out. 64ºf (18ºc)
3) Many school buses were there (field trip)
4) There were hundreds of parents with strollers
5) There were at least three people in wheelchairs that I physically saw
The first sign I read at the zoo – aside from the one that signified that we were parked in the "E Elephant" section – said that children under three were admitted for free. That brightened my day until I saw that adult admission was $21 each. Oh, and $8 for parking. I don’t want to hear the crap about CAN to US conversion, and how it was actually cheaper. Fifty bucks to see a bunch of animals that I can easily see in HD on the Discovery Channel? Shoulda went wine tasting.
The zoo was split into regions. They included a Canadian animal exhibit, Americas, Eurasia, Africa, and a couple others. It seemed that most of what we saw in Eurasia, aside from a camel, were fish, birds and snakes. I was pretty disappointed with it.
Then we saw a children’s zoo area! And they had a shark there! Oh, but guess what? You have to pay extra to go in there. Looking at the cartoonish map of the zoo that they hand out at the entrance, I told Sarah that there was still plenty to see and we wouldn’t miss out by skipping this area.
Next up, the Americas. We went in the pavilion first and looked at a couple turtles, more fish and more birds. when we circled around and left the building, we were excited to go see the flamingo exhibit and the rest, including a POLAR BEAR! Oh, but guess what? With the exception of the pavilion we just left, the entire Americas exhibit was closed for remodeling. Instead of animals, we saw a bulldozer, people shoveling mulch and yellow tape blocking our path.
More than a little disappointed, we continued to the Canadian animals exhibits. We were immediately greeted with a red sign.
So let me get this straight. The zoo recommends that parents not take their unable-to-walk-on-their-own children to all the exhibits down there? There were, honestly, hundreds of strollers at the zoo. Yeah, and the handicapped are SOL also. And, if you do walk down there, you must realize that the people who designed this area are idiots. Instead of making it into a circle, you must walk all the way down, admiring all the exhibits, until you reach the main attraction… the moose exhibit, then you have to turn around and walk all the way back, past everything that you’ve already seen!
Spitting in the face of the warning (figuratively), we made our way down the steep grade, which was no simple task. On the way down, a guy looked directly at us and said, "Don’t bother. They’re either all sleeping or not there."
Thinking that it couldn’t possibly be true, we continued our perilous journey.
Here’s the raccoon exhibit. No raccoons.
Here’s the owl exhibit. No owls.
Here’s the bald eagle exhibit. You can barely see the tail.
Here’s the moose exhibit. No moose.
Here’s the crane exhibit. No crane.
Here’s a picture of people that paid extra for a guided tour to not see the same stuff we didn’t see.
I commented to Sarah, "Your dad was right, you know."
"We could spend an entire day here and still not see everything."
Her reply was loud, infectious laughter, and it went a long way towards boosting my spirits.
Here’s where it gets even funnier (in a sad way). The zoo started making excuses.
But wait, it gets better. Since we can’t see real animals, the zoo planted some fake ones.
Then we saw something that was quite rare… A group of people huddled around an area.
Monkeys! Tyler LOVES monkeys! These pictures do no justice because you can’t see the humongous grin on his face.
Our legs and feet ached as we walked through the parking lot, past A Alligator, B Bear, C Crane (no, I didn’t see crane, thankyouverymuch), and D Duck. Back in the Blazer, I told the GPS to take us back to the Bed and Breakfast. I kept the camera up front so that I could take pictures of the crazy route it took us on. Except, the GPS told us to turn right, instead of left. Less than a quarter mile later, we were on the expressway and on a direct route to our room. What?!
If you want to look at all the zoo pictures, start here.