The Philadelphia Zoo has always had a place in our life. Some of the earliest pictures of me as a little one are of me posed with my brothers around the Penguin Statue outside the Avian Center. Some of my earliest memories are of walking through those front gates.
It only makes sense that my daughter come here.
We’ve taken her to other Zoo’s, and trust me, she had an amazing time and they are really nice places with great staff. But there’s always been a certain level of magic to the Philadelphia Zoo. Maybe it’s cause of the history there, or simply the scale and design of the place. In certain ways it’s like taking a step back in time, or at least the sense of sharing and being a part of this space where thousands of people of spent time in, making memories of their own with their families.
Whatever it is, it’s certainly rubbed off on the little one. She absolutely loves the zoo, no matter what the weather is like, no matter the time of day, she’ll always be down for a trip to the zoo.
We stop in almost every exhibit, although she’s a bit frightened by the big cats. The Cheetah gives her a great smile lately but I think we’ll take our time introducing her to the Tigers.
The craziest part (it seems) is that no matter how many times we go, she’s always in a state of wonder. She has such a grand curiosity when it comes to these animals just like my wife and I did when we were kids. And it’s one of those things that provided a staple of our personalities: the love and protection of animals like these.
Sure, I have a certain level of hatred towards cats. I’m very heavily allergic, as is my whole family, and I once had a dream where a house cat bit off my hand…but I digress. I may curse them and make faces at them (and occasionally threaten their lives) but I would never wish ACTUAL physical harm on them. And when it comes to the types of animals at the zoo, we find ourselves especially sensitive.
A few hours after my daughter was born, I went for a walk. Cruising through the lobby I passed by the gift shop and a little something caught my eye. A stuffed giraffe. I bought it within a few minutes, the first gift I ever got for my daughter. I don’t know what it was but something felt so natural about connecting my child with such a beautiful creature.
The love of animals comes natural to us, and it’s clear in my daughters eyes as she gazes at the Rhino or the Polar Bear or even the Flamingo’s. The place itself feels as comfortable as our own back yard, and I can’t wait for the next trip.