Sunday the Wyatt family went to the zoo. It's a pretty nifty place, designed more as an animal preserve than a zoo. There are lots of walkways through shaded forests or bamboo jungles, with wide open spaces for the larger animals. The selection of exhibits are fewer in number than most zoos, but it's a quality place, and we enjoyed the afternoon.
My favorite part of the place is the elephant savannah. They have a huge field built up with rocks and ponds and shaded areas for the elephants to wander around, and a nice path for the visitors encircles it with several different viewing areas to choose from, depending on where the elephants might be. We lucked out and spotted them close by at the first spot we stopped, so I pulled up the stroller to the fence, leaned down and pointed at the three large grey elephants nearby. "Helen," I said, "Can you see the elephants?"
"Noooooo ..." she replied.
I point again. "There they are, Helen, can you see the elephants?" Again: "Noooooo ..."
I lean down and try to look through the fence from her vantage point in the stroller. Maybe there's a fence post in the way, or she's too far down to see them uphill. Nope, she's got a great view. Two handlers come out, apparently to walk the animals around, and as they start to move, I point them out again. She's watching, but always saying, "Noooooo ...:
The exact same thing happened at the giraffe exhibit, and the tiger exhibit. The only animals she really "saw" were the meerkats. She kept meowing and woof-woofing at them.
I've decided that "Noooooo ... " must actually mean "Yes, that's a perfect view, Mommy, and thanks for pointing it out to me" in toddler-speak.
I had to adjust my high expectations for our trip to the zoo very quickly. She was old enough to pay attention, but the things I thought would interest her, she didn't even notice. The things that I didn't see, I could hardly peel her away from. Like, she was absolutely thrilled by the sight of water. A small rushing stream near the lemurs, or a pond near the petting zoo - didn't matter. It was water, and she wanted to look at it. Same with pulling leaves off all the bushes that we passed by, or watching the other kids nearby. And Helen loved the swings in the children's play area. I couldn't believe my camera got pictures of her in the swing, but it came through in a big way.
Good thing it didn't cost us anything to bring a child under 3 to the zoo. Next time, I'll save the gas money and just lead her outside to the water hose.