Making the Best of the Zoo

Do you like zoos?

My husband wanted to go somewhere. My daughter wanted to go: first to the beach. Then to an amusement park. Then to a zoo. I liked the beach idea; I started thinking about Ocean Grove. Well, somehow we ended up at the zoo. Turtle Back Zoo in Essex County. I did suggest Popcorn Zoo, which saves animals. At least at that zoo there is a reason for the animals being behind cages. But my husband argued that it’s a longer drive. And Turtle Back does have the train and carousel.

Do you have mixed feelings about gawking at a bunch of animals in a cage?

First, we have to wait in line. So then my husband thinks out loud about how if we had gone to Popcorn Zoo, maybe we wouldn’t have had to wait in line?
Waiting at Turtleback Zoo

Finally, we are in the zoo. After looking at a little fountain, finding the restrooms, buying my daughter a Chex mix snack in a vending machine, we then look at some animals.

Here’s one. I think it’s a bison (according to Victor, see comments, this is Highland Cattle):
bison at Turtleback Zoo

We stop looking at animals for a bit, because we’ve come upon: the CAROUSEL! Much more fun to ride on a large plastic leopard that goes up and down:
carousel at Turtleback Zoo

As my husband and daughter examine a few more animals behind bars, I examine people:
people at the zoo
walking people

Here are two Central New Jersey moms:
two women

I spot a cute guy. He deserves his own photo:

Here’s how my daughter lets us know that she’s had enough looking at bears from the Ural Mountains and chickens and would like to go on the train:

We find the area for the train, and what do we need to do but wait. I people watch:
waiting for the train

Finally, we are on the train. My husband figures if we had to pay for the train, like we did for the carousel (the carousel costs $2/ride), the line would have been shorter. The train takes us on a short ride through the woods, and we see: A lake. Some trees.

After our train ride we gawk at some orange fish:

After examining some endangered amphibians of New Jersey and enjoying the company of some otters, I spot a zoo person holding 2 dead rabbits. “Ew,” I say, “what are those for?” They’re going to feed them to the alligator, my husband tells me. And sure enough, there are all these people standing around the alligator cage watching the alligator chomping away. My husband and I agree this is a bit of a tacky activity.


At left is the baby alligator we saw moments later.


My daughter agreed to go on a pony ride, so that was the next activity. We also saw a cage that supposedly held a groundhog. I couldn’t see the groundhog, but the hole under the little hut in the cage looked suspiciously like the hole under our garage.

Oh, by the way, our neighbors down the block have now caught 11 groundhogs (some were babies) and let them go in Johnson Park.

The zoo has sculptures all around, mostly of animals, but this one is of a boy and a girl:
My daughter took that photo herself. Aren’t digital cameras great for teaching kids?

The best part was photographing the bear.

And this is by far the longest photo essay I’ve ever written.

Darn Ground Hog

The ground hog ate away at my peas. They were beginning to form, the little pea pods, and the big, bad ground hog chomped on them. I sprinkled the leaves with hot sauce, in the hopes that he won’t like it. My neighbor down the block has a ground hog trap; I think the idea is you capture the ground hog, and then you have to drive somewhere to the woods so then he (or she) can come scurrying back to your garden? What joy. Like I have nothing better to do.

I actually saw him in my backyard, and if I hadn’t been in a rush yesterday, I might have been able to capture him on my camera. But I don’t want to post villains on my blog, anyway. Instead, here’s a photo of a tulip that did not get eaten by a deer:
Why is it I call the ground hog a villain, and I have sympathy for the deer? Is it just because deer are prettier animals?