Our local Zoo is a short ten minute drive away and with our annual passes we often pop in for a short walk. It’s not so much the animals we always come to see, but the natural setting of the Zoo. Set on a hill, overlooking Wellington city in the distance, it is a pleasant environment to wander round. The children love to come and play for an hour in the African village or play on the animal climbing frame.
We popped in today, after the school fair, hoping to catch a glimpse of the new baby chimp; but all the chimps were tucked around a corner in the outdoor enclosure hiding from view. We left them to their private moment of welcoming their new family member and visited the baboons, where we delighted in seeing a baboon baby with its mother.
But Alice was more mesmerised by the local wildlife – the very friendly ducks and birds around the kiosk hoping for a passing chip. In the African village she kicked her legs with excitement, waving and saying, ‘Hi ya’ to the cheeky goats and a wandering rooster strutting his handsome tail feathers.
It’s magic to see the world through the eyes of a young child. I had to keep reminding Charlotte and Sophie that it was the first time Alice was seeing many of the animals at the Zoo. She’s heard us make different animal noises to songs and whilst playing with plastic animals and stuffed toys, but to see a living animal is something entirely different! We have one room in our house where there are lots of cuddly animal toys and Alice isn’t quite sure what to make of it. She waits to see if they will move or make a noise, not sure if they are real or not. When we put on a finger puppet and wiggle it about she looks in wonder, sometimes a little anxious, other times relaxed, smiling and laughing out loud; with the monkey and the zebra being her favourite.
Today’s visit was one for the memory bank, with Alice really noticing the animals for the first time and kicking her little legs with great excitement. Her big sisters have of course seen it all before and weren’t so easily amazed. The appeal of a pretend hippo to climb on was stronger than watching the graceful giraffes stroll within metres of us. But Alice’s fresh eyes were all in awe.
The girls will all sleep well tonight after such a busy day. If only we could take a peek inside their dream-world.