16 June 2008

Grizzly Coast: Recap

Bella and I recently trekked down to the Minnesota Zoo to check out the new Grizzly Coast exhibit.

Russia's Grizzly Coast

We were so excited for this new exhibit! We told Bella there was a NEW BEAR at the zoo. She was pumped. She immediately began roaring (like a bear). For like 2 days. The night before we went, I told her it was time to get in the bed and she said, "No! No! Not quite yet! I need to roar a little more."

We started out by effortlessly navigating our way directly there, maybe a first for me. Bella was cheering in the backseat, instead of her usual, "Is the zoo hiding? Zoo, where are you! We're looking for you!"

We met up with two of our playgroup friends and decided to go straight to the 10 am dolphin show. The dolphins were in top form, none of this training performance crap for prime time grizzly coast audiences. Time to get your bottlenose on and kick some grizzly butt. (I can hear the underwater locker room pep talk now). They were blasting I'm Walking On Sunshine with leaps and fast swims and ball throwing and I, for one, was impressed. The girls were a little distracted by their constant need for snacks and seat re-arrangement, but I think they liked it too. Bella was quite interested in the fact that one of them was a daddy dolphin. "A daddy dolphin? A daddy dolphin? A daddy dolphin?"

Next, we filed out of the dolphin show and out into the sunlight, roughly heading in the direction of the Grizzly Coast. Squint squint, shuffle shuffle. As did, I believe, everyone else at the zoo. Shuffle shuffle. Shuffle. What's that up there? It's an otter? I can't see. Shuffle. Shuffle. Yes, an otter.

Otter

And so on for the six or so animals that are in the new exhibit. Bella became a bit of a cling-on, due to the crush of the crowd. So although it was hard to get up close and see the animals, we did manage to get up close and personal with some other cool features. Like a steam geyser!

A steaming geyser

And a boiling mud pot!

In front of a mud pot

And Bella was able to hold her overwhelmed-self together enough to wait in line to roar at the highly anticipated BEAR.

Bear

So by now we are getting tired and hungry. Time to loop around back to the cool new Central Plaza and get something to eat. Wait a minute! There's no loop! WTF. Seriously people. I mean, walking back through the entire exhibit? The other option is to walk the 1.4 mile Northern Trail around the horn back to the plaza. But really. Screaming hungry toddler. 1.4 mile walk. Nuh-uh, not gonna happen. It was kind of like this:

Big wet nose, shaggy soft fur, long sharp teeth... IT'S A BEAR!! Back through the cave tip toe tip toe, back down the boardwalk clip clop clip clop, back by the restrooms (which are very nice) tinkle flush tinkle flush, back through the mudpot boil plurp boil plurp, back by the sea otters push shove push shove, AHHHH we're back in the Central Plaza. We're not going on a bear hunt again!

Once there, we visit the Grizzly Coast Cafe for lunch. Oh how cute, I love theme food! Soviet slaw and comrade kabobs all around! But no. It's actual Russian food. Or at least it's actual Russian gas station food, which is probably not the same thing at all. And to my shock, there appear to be actual Russians working there, as I discovered when I was trying to ask for dip for my carrots--she still didn't understand even when I boiled it down to "DUH-iii-PUH," accompanied by carrot poking motions. Poke poke. But no deal. (This turned out to be quite fortuitous, since it led me to discover that both Bella and I enjoy dipping our carrots in ketchup. Delicious!) So huh, real Russians! Who'd a thunk.

After lunch, we let the girls loose on the new 'splash pad' in the Central Plaza. One of the moms had smartly alerted us to all bring extra clothes. Brilliant!

Bring dry clothes!

Bella disintegrated shortly after this, inconveniently in the middle of a meerkat tunnel. An older girl came out, "She's CRYING in there." "Can you go back in and tell her to come out?" [climbs in climbs out] "She said she wants her MOMMY." So yes, mommy in a meerkat tunnel.

And that was the end to our fairly successful zoo day. My advice to anyone going is to sacrifice the poor dolphins dancing their heart out and go straight to the Coast, unless it is not that busy. Then you'll get to see more of the animals and maybe even have enough spunk left in you to go around the horn on the Northern Trail. Happy Trails!

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