I think I’ve mentioned to you that my daughter loves elephants, so for her birthday last week I planned to take her to the Los Angeles Zoo to view their new Asian Elephant exhibit. I am lucky enough to have a few connections that allowed us to get a behind the scenes glimpse at how the elephants live. What is your kid’s favorite animal? Is there a local zoo you could visit? Most offer great kid’s programs. Or maybe there is some other activity that your child would enjoy doing on their big day? I think memories like these (will they remember this far back? well, there’s always pictures) are often the best birthday gifts of all.
The Los Angeles Zoo has done an amazing job of creating a home and caring for these majestic animals. Take a look at what we saw in the elephant exhibit at the LA Zoo after the jump…
Asian Elephants at the Los Angeles Zoo
First we met Billy. He was waiting for us right at the front of the exhibit.
We checked out these pretty elephants painted by artists from some of the countries where asian elephants live (cambodia, india, thailand)
We rode around in the zebra cart on the service road (which was nice since it was 96 degrees out). S was very excited to see…
…our favorite animal, the Chacoan Peccaries! The Prudent Dad and I were excited to find out that the Los Angeles zoo manages the world population of chacoan peccaries. Cool.
Scarlet really, really loved the zoo.
She also loved the drinking fountain.
Then we got to go inside the elephant’s house. Scarlet kept saying “I WANT TO GO TO ELEPHANT HOUSE.” This is an elephant drinking fountain. Billy sticks his trunk in there to drink.
Scarlet was a little scared of the loud sound of the doors. This room is the elephant containment unit where Billy gets his pedicures and sees the doctor.
Then it was time to go into the keeper’s area and see Billy up close.
The elephant gates are huge, with giant posts spaced closely enough that elephants can’t walk through, but people could run right in. I had to hold Scarlet back. Not even the keepers go on the other side of the gate. Billy seems nice, but nobody touches him, he likes to be left alone to be an elephant.
Scarlet brought her baby elephant with her.
We got this close to Billy. He did some tricks for us, like standing on his back legs and growling on command. His growl scared S. Billy’s keepers have been with him for I think 18 years, they are a family. They exercise Billy, play games with him, and hide food for him around this gigantic exhibit. He is probably one of the strongest and best conditioned elephants in the country due to the dedication and care his keepers give to the health of his body and his mind.
Then his keeper fed him some yams. He ate so, so many. Scarlet wanted to feed him but that’s not our job.
Inside his house, we got to walk along the second floor, but the ground was an open grate and because you could see through it, we were a little scared.
But it was worth it because at the end of the walkway we got to see the two new lady elephants (elderly gals rescued from a circus) taking their very first shower!
Then the wonderful elephant keepers took us inside and showed us cool elephant bits. This is a piece of Billy’s tusk and Scarlet is pretending it is her tusk.
This is an elephant hair Scarlet is holding. Weird!
On our way out, Billy’s snack was being readied. These carrots are just a small portion of his snack, he also had lots and lots and lots of veggies and salad, more than Scarlet’s probably eaten in her whole lifetime, just for his afternoon treat. He eats 250 pounds of food a day!
Then, for the first time ever, Scarlet said “mommy, i’m feeling tired” and fell asleep in the car. At school, she told all of her friends about the big day while they learned the letter “E” – Good timing all around!
What kinds of non material birthday gifts do y’all have in mind this year?