The zoo is essentially free, although they do charge extra for certain exhibits and parking is $15 (I think). But, we figured we only wanted to spend a couple of hours (or rather, we only had a couple of hours to spend) before we needed to hit the road to our next destination, so we opted to just see the free stuff. When we first arrived, all the statues at the entrance got us quite excited.
I especially liked this mama lion with her cubs!
Ellie liked this big elephant, and did the sign for "elephant" right away.
Sea lions at the entrance
Ellie doing her very best snake impression!
The zoo itself was very nice. We basically just wandered around in a giant circle to see what we could in the time we had. We arrived right when it opened, so a lot of the animals were still sleeping or things (like concession stands) weren't open yet. But it was quiet and not at all crowded, which was a nice way to start the day.
We saw some birds...
Fun in the Bird Garden
Top half: Eric and Ellie by the giant insect statue, a (fake) ant on the wall, Ellie checking out the butterfly cocoons.
Bottom half: Butterflies, and Ellie in the butterfly house!
...and some cool animals.
Primates, zebras, tigers, rhinos and bears! Oh, my!
However, there were several definite highlights of our visit.
First, a couple of playful, swinging primates.
I'm bad at primates and can't remember if these are gorillas, or chimpanzees, or what have you. But they are definitely primates!
Then, the sea lions, including a cool observation tunnel through the tank so you could see them swimming around you.
Checking things out at Sea Lion Sound
Next was the sleeping hippos, who were dozing all pressed against the glass, and they were even cuddling. It was certainly the closest I've ever been to a hippo!
Who knew hippos were such cuddlebugs???
Up close and personal
Ellie and Eric checking out the hippos
Face to face!
And finally, the elephants. And more specifically, the baby elephant! That was one cute little (relatively speaking) elephant.
Eric and my baby with the baby elephant
Watching the elephants with Ellie
Bye bye, St. Louis! We'll be back very soon!
Welcome to Illinois!
Halfway there, however, we stopped for a rest stop in Bloomington, IL at my cousin Molly's house. She was a perfect midpoint (2.5 hours into the trip) and it was great to stop somewhere fun, where Ellie could stretch her legs and we could rest up comfortably. We just grabbed some Subway sandwiches for lunch and ate with Molly while the kiddos played, and then were back on our way. Thanks for letting us crash there briefly, Molly!
Quick cousin reunion! Not to worry, kids - there will be plenty more play time where that came from!
From Bloomington, we had another 3.5 hours to go till Milwaukee. I sat in the back with Ellie and kept her entertained as much as I could. I had hit up the dollar store and Target Dollar Spot before our trip to get a whole bunch of little toys, so she would have lots of new things to keep her entertained on each long drive. It seemed to work, with stickers, a little animal book and necklaces being the biggest hits. And, she even (praise the Lord) slept a little bit.
Welcome to Wisconsin!
Ellie is Milwaukee-bound
Coming up tomorrow: Our stay in Milwaukee, including a Brewers game, some downtown sightseeing and a brewery tour!
To see more pictures from the St. Louis Zoo, click here.