Isn’t it funny how some thing change … and yet some don’t.
Way back in August while visiting New Zealand the kids and I went to Auckland Zoo at their request. They desperately wanted to see Burma (the elephant) and Janie (the tea party chimp) and a few other animals they had learned about thanks to “The Zoo” TV show filmed at Auckland Zoo.
Auckland Zoo isn’t huge, nor does it have a large international profile but it is a great place for children and adults alike. Unlike other zoos we have experienced it is normally pretty quiet and easy to roam around.
One of the really nice new features at Auckland Zoo this visit was an area dedicated to New Zealand’s own native animals down the back of the Zoo. There were large aviaries to walk through where the kids were able to watch and listen to native birds above and below them. Tui flew up to a feeder box at eye level, while Kaka landed on the walkway railings curious to see us as we walked past.
Why did I love it so much? Aside from the fact I had never had the chance to see a Kaka up close (and the last I looked they were quite endangered due to introduced wasp species attacking them) the enclosures encouraged my children to ask questions.
“What bird is that? Why is it that colour? What does it eat? How does it make those strange sounds? Where does it live?”
I had a production line of questions thrown at me thanks to the children’s curiosity and enthusiasm and I didn’t mind one bit. I want my children to ask and learn and so of course I was delighted these animal encounters were inspiring them to think about their surroundings.
A highlight for the children was a close encounter with the cheeky Kea’s who decided to play in the walkway of their aviary while another (the dominant male so we were told by a keeper in the enclosure) shredded a tree stump to bits.
Mitchell had been scared of the kiwi house (it is dark to simulate night) until a kiwi scuttled past the glass in front of him. His fear of the dark forgotten he ventured closer to the glass to watch as two kiwis popped backwards and forwards, running a short way down the enclosure then back.
It wasn’t all about the birds. Bethany became fascinated by the Tuatara.
I can’t say I blame her. I’ve always been fascinated by them myself. Look how cool that reptile is (it isn’t a lizard technically but from a much older genus) … and how close it was to us. She has always had a toy Tuatara so you can imagine her delight when she easily spotted this one chilling out.
We spent quite some time just with the New Zealand enclosures but we did venture around to most of the other animals.
Burma was out and about, a baby giraffe was exploring its habitat and I had two very happy children. It brought back memories of my childhood when every now and then I too would get to explore the zoo. Such a different place it was back then with lions the only big cats and a green polar bear who paced in a small fake iceberg (but made of concrete) enclosure. Zoo’s have come a long way …
And yet, when we got to the children’s playground in the middle of the zoo I couldn’t help but grin. I beheld a familiar sight of so long ago.
The last time I played on him he was red and yellow and missing a few teeth, but this dragon is the same dragon I played on as a child the same age as Bethany is now. I can’t believe it has survived the *cough* decades. Re-painted and restored to it’s former glory it is nice to see the zoo not only cares for preserving the animals, but also historic parts of the zoo’s past. Bethany and Mitchell has a fabulous time climbing all over the dragon, using their imaginations.
I’m lucky. My kids love animals and have a natural curiosity about the world and creatures in it which makes a place like Auckland Zoo a worthwhile visit.
If you’re in Auckland and want to see some of New Zealand’s native animals then the zoo is certainly worth considering.