I love road trips. Short, long, easy, hard, getting lost, almost running out of gas, whatever the road throws at me I thoroughly enjoy it and where it takes me. This time we took the family on a day trip to Cameron Park Zoo in Waco.
At the moment and aside from dinosaurs, Miles favorite animal is a rhino. Which when after Reading that the last Northern White Rhino has died, instantly gave me a sinking pit in my stomach. The idea that one day, possibly when his child is playing with a plastic Rhino, he’ll have to tell them they’re no longer around and his kid will grow up with rhinos as a myth, something that used to exist. Thinking about this always makes me want to get more into conservation and fight to ensure there’s something left for my children.
Alright, enough of the melodrama.
From Killeen the Cameron Park Zoo is about an hours’ drive, mostly up I-35, you hop off at University Parks, hang a left at the light and stay on that road until you see signs for the zoo (Google knows the way).After waiting in a long, but considerably fast paced, entry line the boys went right to planning the route. Miles set on seeing rhinos, the older boys wanted to see the elephants and lions. We ended up deciding to take the route to the right taking us passed the Galapagos Tortoises first.
We decided that on this trip we would slow things down a bit, and rather then rush from exhibit to exhibit just to see everything we would take our time. Part of slowing down meant just sitting in the shade while the kids played at the giant tree playhouse.
Moving through the zoo is easy, the attractions are well spaced and well planned as to guide your walk through each zone and the walks are shaded by tall trees and towering bamboo shoots.
We slowly walked through each area, seeing fish, snakes, tigers, lions and alligators and, massive buffaloes. The kids ran ahead of us spying the animals before Mary or I could make it to that pin. Each time cheering, pointing and otherwise trying to get our attention as loud as they possibly could their bodies filed to the brim with excitement each time an animal would cross their gaze.
At each stop at least one of the children would impart on us some tid bit of animal lore, how many spots an ocelot has, that frogs are poisonous, or that Native Americans used to hunt buffalo, they sought to share and be connected to what we were seeing.. It’s at this point Miles started repeatedly asking about the rhinos were where we were heading next.
Miles has two modes when he’s excited. He’s either insanely wired or like he was today, humbly internalizing his excitement. Coming to the pen he was the latter. Quiet, focused, and more excited that he’s ever been. We walked over and got lucky, one of the rhinos was as close to the wire fence as could be, we could nearly look it in the eye.. Miles pointed it out as I lifted him on top of the fence where he sat, silently, never taking his gaze off of the animal as it slowly munched on green grass. It made my heart happy to see him excited about something other than a TV show.
And that’s what the zoo does, sparks love and wonder in everyone who visits.
Celebrating 25 years, the zoo has unique events planned through out the year, from grapes with the apes, Croctober, Zoo boo and Wildlife wonderland
To find out more about volunteering at the zoo, donating, or stopping in for the day, visit their website at www.cameronparkzoo.com
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