Thursday, May 1, 2008

What Passes For a Zoo in Chicago?

Although the skies were clear on Saturday, the temperatures were chilly. When I walked out to the vehicle to restock the ice chest with ice, it was a balmy 34 degrees with a stiff breeze. Later as we sat in our vehicle with the heater on waiting for the ten o'clock opening of the Brookfield Zoo, I wasn't so sure it was a good idea. In our group was my MIL, a Filipina straight from the island and much warmer temperatures. We dug around and found a couple blankets that we keep in there, dusted them off and decided to give the zoo a try.

We had already paid $8 to park our vehicle and it cost me another $33 to get the three adults into the zoo and Little Abbey got in free. As zoos go, this one kind of disappointed me. About a third of the exhibits were closed to visitors and it seemed as if half of the remaining inhabitants had mysterious disappeared because both their outdoor and indoor cages were empty, many being cleaned. It seemed like we mostly walked from one empty cage to another. We were able to locate one lion and one tiger, two of Little Abbey's favorite animals but I think she was too scared of seeing them in real life to issue her standard growl when she sees a picture of one.

Another gripe that I had about our day at the zoo was the cost of food. It was outrageously high! So high, that having a five-dollar bill in your pocket felt just like a penny in a grocery store. Fortunately, we had smuggled quite a bit of snacks in Little Abbey's stroller so we munched on those and ate after we left the park. My final gripe is that you weren't allowed to take strollers into most buildings that were handicap accessible. So we had to unload the stroller every time we went into the building and of course, the exit to the exhibit was on the other side of the building so dad had to walk around every single time to fetch the stroller to proceed onto the next exhibit. In all, I probably tripled the miles of my wife and her mother just fetching the stroller.

As we were walking out, my wife and MIL went inside a store to check out high priced baubles, a lady approached me to fill out a survey, which I did with great satisfaction. I even wrote on the back. I had been under the impression that Brookfield Zoo was one of the tops in the nation but it had nothing on our humble little zoo here in Iowa and paled compared to the one we saw in Omaha Nebraska during the middle of winter after my wife got her greencard. If I had to do it over again, I would have saved my money and gone to the free Lincoln Park Zoo.

P.S. The weather warmed up considerably by late morning and it was a beautiful day to visit the zoo had we been able to find one.

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