So...the animals...our first close up encounter was with the bear. The bears had an amazing set up, lots of space out in the open, grass, trees, hills etc. and then a enclosed cavelike area with a pool. We walked down a small hill where we found a clear wall that revealed the interior of the cave, including an underwater view. The bear just happend to be in the most playful of moods as we walked up. He was swimming back and forth from the window to land, he would come right up to us and his nose would smash on the glass in a playful way, he'd look right at us as if he were a playful dog, and then he'd swim back to land, stand up shake of and get back in the water and cruise back to us again. He did this over and over. The kids got to be face to face with this swimming bear. It was an amazing experience.
Our next encounter was with the tiger. Once again, the kids were face to face with the tiger. He walked in front of the glass back and forth the entire time we were there. We were the only family there, so we had full view and the kids could sit right up next to the glass and watch. It was absolutely incredible!
Then we headed to the lion enclosure. What a gorgeous habitat. Plenty of hills and rocks, a very natural environment. When we first walked up the lion was all the way at the other side, in full view, but very far away. Within minutes he had walked over and was eye to eye with us in front of the glass. And after pacing in front of us for a minute or so, he actually started ROARING some 6 inches in front of our faces. Full on roars, just like you'd imagine a lion would roar. It was incredible. At some point during all the roaring I looked over at my 30 something husband and saw a little boys face, a completely frozen expression...jaw completey dropped open, eyes bugged out, with the most childlike look of amazement on his face. I so wish I could have taken a picture of that face. It was priceless.
Our entire visit was just amazing. All of the animals were in the best mood, we had full view of every one. The giraffes were RIGHT in front of us, the monkeys, the Galapogos Turtles, the lemurs, the Alligators, Mir Cats, etc. The list goes on. It was just an amazing day for us. I can't even begin to tell you how many "Thank You's" we got from the moment we walked in the zoo. Even the trip home was filled with sweet appreciation.