“When I was a kid I said to my father, ‘Daddy, will you take me to the zoo?’ He answered, ‘If the zoo wants you let them come and get you.” ~ Jerry Lewis
Sunday I tried to get into the Indiana State Museum, to no avail, because there was a large bicycle race detouring everyone away from the area. Sitting in traffic, looking for an escape route out of the area, I looked to my right and saw it: The Indianapolis Zoo! I had five hours to enjoy until I could check in at the hotel I’d booked so I figured, “Why not?” Well, I am SO glad I did!
I almost didn’t go because I have a yearly membership to the San Diego Zoo and once you’ve been there, well…you’re kinda’ spoiled. The San Diego Zoo is a remarkable place so I didn’t have too much hope for the Indy Zoo when comparing the two.
The Indianapolis Zoo may not be the biggest zoo in the world but what they lack in size they more than make up for in excellent displays, caring for the animals and a style that is classy, professional and well-planned. They charged six dollars for parking (San Diego is free.) and twenty-two dollars to enter; that price also allows you admission to the beautiful White River Gardens adjacent to the zoo.
They have a dolphin show, a dog jumping show, a desert bio-dome, a safari, a jungle and a few rides like a kiddie roller coaster (NOT a big scary one like the one at Waldameer Park in Erie, PA!), a train that takes you around the safari and a gondola-looking ride that nobody seemed to go on.
The highlight of the park, for me, was the brand-new (just opened a few weeks ago) orangutan exhibit. This is a world-class exhibit with an international reputation for excellence in the study of our hairy, red cousins. The apes in this facility have an enormous area to roam. They have a massive central play area with ropes, ladders and shelves at multiple-storied levels. There are tunnels and outside grassy areas for them to explore. The best part is the overhead gymnasium, I’m talking a hundred feet off the ground, where they can swing or walk or climb there way along on this simulated, albeit hardened steel, jungle canopy and it’s all outside! They’re literally climbing right overhead like they’re climbing along on the telephone/cable/electrical wires that run through your neighborhood. This alone was worth the price of admission. I was lucky enough to catch one of the orangutans climbing up there on such a hot day. After I toured the whole zoo in two to three hours, I sat on a bench for a half hour just hoping another crimson cousin would go up to play aloft but, as I said, at 86° it may have been too hot and too humid for them; it was for me. It wasn’t fit for man nor beast!
I headed for the hotel, desperate for a much needed shower, a washing machine and a comfy mattress. I decided to go through the center of Downtown Indianapolis where I discovered the Indiana State Soldiers and Sailors Monument at the center of Monument Circle. It rises 284 feet above the street and dominates the skyline. There’s a very small elevator (it only holds four people) running up the middle of this beautiful obelisk so, I paid the two-dollar elevator fee and squeezed onto to the elevator with three other people, desperately hoping that I didn’t smell nearly as bad as I thought I did. (The last bath I had was back at my Lake Erie sunset swim on Wednesday!) The people on the elevator spoke French so they may have been talking behind my back right in front of me. Oh well! Such is the life of an adventurer! As you can see from the pictures it was worth the trip to the top.
I hope you get a chance to see the orangutans at the Indy Zoo, this beautiful city and I hope you always have gratitude for the little things in life…like a nice shower!
The gam continues…