Eric and I decided to spend some time outside enjoying the crisp fall weather yesterday, and thanks to my sister Stephanie had a free pass to the Minnesota Zoo in honor of National Museum Day sponsored by the Smithsonian. So we ventured off to see the new Minnesota Zoo exhibit "Russia's Grizzly Coast." It's a groundbreaking exhibit that show animals in their natural habitats engaged in normal animal activities. Seems sort of obvious, doesn't it? I don't know about you, but I tend to get a little sad when I visit zoos where the animals look bored and are confined to small spaces devoid of stimulation.
The exhibit featured mischievous and playful otters, trout, squealing wild boars, leopards, tigers, and of course, the grizzlies. The grizzly part is brilliant because they have it set up so the bears actually get to hunt for trout in a pond - the pond runs up against the glass where the spectators are watching. So essentially, you get to see the bears up close trying their damnedest to catch a fish, as well as lounge by the pool and if you're lucky engage in a friendly game of bear-tag. I could have watched them for hours.
The other highlight of the excursion was the snow monkey exhibit. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am more than a little obsessed with monkeys, and these monkeys didn't disappoint. Inevitably, people in their fascinated state drop things into the open monkey pit and it takes the monkeys all of 2 seconds to claim it as their own. When we first passed by the monkeys we spied an adorable baby monkey cradling what appeared to be a small Dalmatian toy. On our way out of the zoo we passed by again and much to our surprise saw one of the monkeys with a cell phone! All of the monkeys were vying for a chance to hold the new pink thing, and although a lot of gnawing on the phone took place it also appeared as though the monkeys were at times using the phone. I imagine the resulting cell phone bill will include some calls to China.
It was a great trip and enlightening to see that when animals are given ample space and a little stimulation, they are marvelous to watch.