Walking And Gawking At The Omaha Zoo

by Kevin Burton

   Let history record that it was my idea to go to the Omaha Zoo. 

  My wife will be both surprised and not surprised to read that. Surprised because technically it was her idea; I am not hostile to zoos but certainly indifferent to them.

   She will not be surprised because I have the charming habit of claiming as my own, an idea that she has talked me into, if it turns out better than expected.  Usually this is limited to movies that didn’t sound good to me that we watched and I ended up liking. 

   The zoo visit was the first real touristy thing we did on our recent vacation.  Getaway Day saw us drive through both Beatrice and Lincoln, Nebraska, places we had talked about exploring, not find any compelling reasons to linger, then push on through to Omaha.

   That’s the way we played it, making things up as we went.  No plans were thwarted because very few plans we made.

   The Henry Doorly Zoo was one of the planned events. Jeannette got the idea from a co-worker. TripAdvisor proclaimed it the World’s Best Zoo in 2014. It’s certainly among the biggest zoos. 

   Jeannette said we should set aside five hours for the zoo. That sounded excessive to me. She says I glared at her when she suggested five hours, but she always says that.

   If I glared at her as much as she claims, I could be called the “glare bear” and be put in a zoo. 

   “Look Marge, that glare beat certainly looks annoyed!”

   We wore the oversized hats we wear when we do yardwork, put on sun screen and started exploring. 

   Our first zoo experience was not being charged admission.  An anonymous donor who wanted to pour blessings on the military community provided this freebie. 

   We walked to the ticket booth, my wallet out, and a man in a zoo t-shirt approached asking if we had a military connection.  I told him my late father was in the military. That was good enough for him.  He waved us both over to the entrance.

   We spent quite a bit of time in the aquarium part. I have in my notes that Jeannette said, “I wonder what it means when they’re shaking their tail feathers. Are they pooping or what?” 

   What I don’t have recorded is which exotic fish species she was referring to. So let’s just say it refers to all of them.  We saw A Japanese Spider crab and a Monterrey eel.

At least one big aquarium tank was fashioned so that the sea creature could swim above your head. 

   We saw a West Coast sea nettle, which sounds like the name of a soccer team. There was a black and white striped fish called “old wife.” It’s native to Australia and grows to 50 centimeters long.

   The name ‘old wife’ refers to the sound it makes when caught, caused by it grinding its teeth,” according to Wikipedia.  It also goes by the name “zebra fish.”  Guys, zebra fish is the name you want to use if you visit the zoo with your wife.

   We saw starfish and octopus of course. Jeannette said the octopus had weird eyes.  I say a high percentage of the animals we saw had weird eyes.

   That day we did more walking than we do in about two weeks back in Kansas. We knew we were out of shape. The zoo helped us quantify how far. But we didn’t get tired until we had to stand in line for the train. 

   If there is a train or trolley ride at a vacation site, I will always want to take it.  This one circles around most of the zoo. It’s how we got to see the larger animals, the bears, rhinos and giraffes.  I still don’t get how the giraffe’s purple tongue protects it from the sun, but our tour guide said so. 

   We learned that cheetahs make a chirping noise, not a roar. 

   The train ride was $7 per person. Some of the other money that we didn’t have to spend on admission we spent on food.

   The “hot and delicious” pepperoni pizza from the snack area was sort of warm and what George F Will might call “not undelicious.”  

   Though I was the one who wanted to limit the visit to two hours, once I got into it, I was the one at least talking about going past three hours. It was 4 p.m. and the zoo closes at 5.

    When Jeannette said she was ready to go though, I didn’t argue.

   We then did a lot more walking trying to find our car.

   We could return to the zoo maybe three times, without repeating any of the exhibits we saw.  It is big and big fun for children and old children alike.

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