I hope that everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend. We enjoyed a few adventures, and the kids are off this week so the fun is continuing and I’ll document it soon.
We kicked off the holiday weekend Saturday morning at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. We’ve been a few times over the last 3 years, but had our best visit so far this past weekend. It was a combination of low crowds at opening, fantastic weather, and cooperation by the animals.
In full disclosure: I don’t really believe in keeping animals in captivity. I have an issue supporting zoos for that reason. I do think that there are some zoos that do better jobs than others at mimicking natural conditions and demonstrating care for the animals, and I generally think that the Pittsburgh Zoo does that (despite the elephant controversy a few years ago). I recognize that supporting the Zoo with my patronage inherently demonstrates support for animals in captivity, and I just wanted to point out that my values do not necessarily align that way.
The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium was founded in 1898 (same year as Yeungling, as a random point of information) is one of only SIX zoo/aquarium combos in the US. Isn’t that wild (pun intended)? There are over 4000 animals and nearly 500 species, including 20 separate endangered or threatened species.
On this visit, we spent most of our time in three of eight primary areas: African Savanna, Water’s Edge, and the PPG Aquarium.
Nico has been pretty obsessed with elephants since birth, and they remain his favorite part of every visit. I might be partially responsible for his love for them, I did his nursery as Dumbo themed when he was born. We were treated to the most fantastic show as two adult elephants and one calf were bathing and playing in the water for nearly 30 minutes. It was quite a show and not something that you get to see every day!
We didn’t get to see any zebras or giraffes (giraffes are mom’s favorite!) due to our early hours interfering with maintenance, but were pretty happy with the show by the elephants.
The aptly named Water’s Edge is one of the newer sections of the zoo, and contains the polar bears, sea otters, and seals. We have not historically spent much time in this section because it’s at the very end of the zoo, and the kids have been either too hot or too tired in past visits. However- not the case this time!
There’s a polar bear trap (I’m not sure why) as you walk down to Water’s Edge, and it’s made into a play area for kids. Nico loved it. However, I’m not sure it generally sends the best message to patrons. Nonetheless, the pictures above represent the trap and play area.
One of the polar bears was out swimming and playing right up along the viewing area, which the kids really seemed to enjoy. We got to watch him (?) toss around a big ball, swim down to the bottom of the pool and back up top, and even eat some snacks hidden in the corner for him. It was so cool to see him up close. Nico really loved when he was splashing around!
Only one sea otter was out playing that morning, and he was so cute because he was literally doing the backstroke swimming around his tank. I have never seen something so funny!. We also had lots of fun watching the seals swim in circles; they seemed like they were racing each other!
The Aquarium is usually a hit (and a refreshing break from the heat). This is usually Gabriella’s favorite area- she loves the Penguin exhibit in particular! There are so many of them swimming around!
All in all, it was a fun way to knock out a couple of hours on a Saturday morning before a long weekend. The kids got to burn off a lot of energy running around and that made for a pretty successful nap time in the afternoon (parenting win!).
Do you support zoos? Which is the best that you’ve been to? Do you have a favorite animal?