Our grandsons, Owen (kindergarten) and Max (preschool), have come with their parents to California during February school vacation week in New England. Whether it is including the boys at an evening potluck with local friends in California, exploring the beach in Carpinteria, or taking them on a train ride to Ventura, we look to make memories with our guys.
Yesterday, Hannah and I with the Family Rawding hiked the Rattlesnake Trail in Santa Barbara. Click here for that adventure.
Today, we will take the boys to the Santa Barbara Zoo while their parents hike up Gaviota Peak 45 minutes north on The 101.
Arriving at the zoo fifteen minutes from our home-away-from-home in Carpinteria, we have a sunny, blustery day for los animales.
At each exhibit, the boys’ age-appropriate short attention span matches mine. While Hannah reads about the animals and tells us one of the listed fun facts, I take a good thirty seconds to take in the tropical birds or the elephants or the lions or the giraffes. Then the boys and I move on. I am not a stop and smell the roses animal lover. I gotta be me.
Pausing in front of the tortoise enclosure, we learn from the keeper about these forty year-old tortoises. As herbivores, they are making a comeback from endangered status thanks to zoos and private owners. Unfortunately, their shells are still harvested, which, upon removal, immediately kills the tortoises because their backs are directly attached to their shells. Some kill the tortoises for their livers, which they believe have wonderous medicinal properties.
On the path by the giraffe enclosure, two volunteers intrigue us all with the skull of a giraffe. Next to them they have a 15” bicycle tire tube that represents the length of the giraffe’s tongue. Then the volunteers set a rubbery mat on the ground which indicates the size of the giraffe’s hoof and lets the boys compare their feet to that of a giraffe.
Lions, elephants, alligators, anteaters, and penguins rock our world, albeit briefly.
Wisely constructed in the center of the SB Zoo, a favorite spot for our young guys, is the AstroTurf mound at the playground where Owen and Max slide down the hill on cardboard. Owen teaches his brother how to surf down the play hill.
With cool temperatures near 60F, we are not exhausted after nearly four hours among the mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. That said, once home, we turn the boys back over to their parents, and have one sweet siesta.