Sunday, June 12, 2011

Today's fortune: June 12, 2011 - PHOTO ESSAY

Today's fortune: You will find hidden treasures where you least expected.

My Little Brother Rayne and I spent the day at the Kansas City Zoo. Rain was in the forecast, but not a single drop fell on our heads, and the temperature never climbed above 80. All in all, it was a beautiful day for a walk through the zoo.

The zoo, obviously, is filled with animals, so I don't consider those the "least expected" treasures this fortune refers to. But I got some cool photos, so I'll sprinkle them in to this post.

One of the least hidden treasures there is the zoo's now-famous polar bear, Nikita, who is housed in a new $10 million exhibit. Nikita, a three-and-a-half year old male, put on quite a show for us, swimming laps around his pool and taking a walk on the fake glaciers.

The first hidden treasure we encountered was literally right under our feet. While crossing a bridge in the sprawling Africa section of the zoo, we looked down into the water and saw dozens of turtles swimming around. Later on, we saw turtles - including some gigantic ones - as part of the official exhibit, but this first batch was unmarked and easy to miss.

Another hidden treasure was watching an 11-year-old boy standing mere feet from giraffes be much more fascinated by a chipmunk running loose on a path. "Chipmunks are cuter," he said.

But giraffes are taller!

And then that same boy found a hidden treasure of his own - a quarter in the tray of a vending machine. To distract him during the long walk between exhibits, he would play with the quarter, sometimes paying more attention to the coin than to the chimpanzees staring back at us.

To help with those long walks between exhibits, the Kansas City Zoo has done a great job of adding transport mechanisms throughout the park, and we rode 'em all, including a tram, a train and a boat. They're also nearly finished installing a sky tram (a.k.a. ski lift) over the Africa exhibit. I snapped this photo from the ground tram.

In the end, I found a hidden treasure by realizing Rayne was right: although the big animals are the headliners at the KC Zoo, the small ones are pretty darn cute, including these meerkats, one of whom seemed to be angry with me.

At the end of a long day, we were both tired, but we promised each other to return to the zoo soon. It's a lot of fun. And even though I spent the day looking at wild animals, I discovered the wild animals I love the most right inside my home.