Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. In honor of the holiday my preschool didn't hold classes, and Tony had the day off work, although he went in for a half day to get caught up on paperwork and got home right before lunch.
I knew I wanted to do something special today. After lunch a headache that had been present all morning kicked into full gear, making it hard to think. Thankfully Tony was there to help me figure things out. After a bit of discussion, we decided to get bundled up and go to the St. Louis Zoo.
St. Louis has one of the best zoos in the world, and there's no admission charge! We pay taxes to support it and several other cultural institutions, so it's not completely free, but it sure feels like it when you don't have to get out your wallet to walk inside. I've been to the Zoo in the winter once, many years ago, and had fond memories of that visit. It was great to see everything without a lot of people in the way.
When we got to Forest Park, where the zoo is located, we parked on the street on the south side of the zoo complex. I was surprised to see quite a few cars there, but when we got inside the gates those other people were nowhere to be found. The lack of people was a real advantage; we were able to walk around easily and see things up close. Many of the outdoor enclosures were empty, or the animals were hiding and couldn't be found, but quite a few could be seen in indoor viewing areas. I enjoyed my entire visit, but the highlights were watching the orangutans and penguins, and visiting the Insectarium.
The orangutans, along with the chimpanzees and gorillas, winter in the same building. Each group had its own large environment, separated from observers by floor to ceiling windows. When we were there two of the zoo's three orangutans were out. One of them seemed to know there was a crowd; he (she?) tossed a ball up a slight incline several times and watched it roll back while everyone oohed and aahed.
Even though it's been open for more than a decade, I had never been to the Insectarium before. The whole building is devoted to bugs! There were dozens of insects on display, along with spiders and scorpions. I stood mesmerized watching a colony of leaf cutting ants walking along a aerial walkway made of bamboo, cutting and carrying pieces of leaves and flowers back to their nest area.
Tony and I spent more than an hour walking around the Zoo before our feet started to get cold and we decided it was time to go. Although we didn't make it to all of the sections, we saw everything we wanted to see and we had a great time.