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Our 2009 Road Trip, Part 21: 2 Wild 2 Kingdom

white tiger!

A white tiger happy to get some peace and quiet far away from Siegfried and Roy.

I’m typing this on the Third of July, Independence Eve, a time when a lot of internet users are either binge-watching, traveling, or stocking up on recreational explosives to celebrate the United States of America’s birthday (observed). Clicking is down, my energy levels are even farther down, my movie reviews are caught up for now, my to-do list for coming events feels infinite in length, and I have six episodes of Luke Cage season 2 left to burn through. For my own reasons I don’t feel like skipping MCC too much this week, but now’s not the time for that 2000-word essay on social awkwardness that’s been coalescing in my head since last December.

Oh, hey, everyone loves animals, right?

Eureka.

(P.S.: Happy Fourth of July from us here at Midlife Crisis Crossover! Remember, don’t drink and firecracker, especially around pets, who hate hate HATE your proud fireworks display.)

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Our 2009 Road Trip, Part 20: Omaha’s Wild Kingdom

Owl!

Paranoid owl is ON TO YOU.

Longtime MCC readers know we made a habit of doing at least one zoo or amusement park on every road trip while he was young, as a compromise so he’d have something to look forward to besides history museums and roadside oddities. As for this particular trip, you’d think we’d be burned out on animals by now after our experiences at Custer State Park and Reptile Gardens. Regardless of redundancy or overkill, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo came recommended to us, and gave us a benign activity to kick off what would become yet another day of never-ending driving.

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Our 2010 Road Trip, Part 12: Mandatory Zoo Visit

Panamanian golden frogs!

Panamanian golden frogs — critically endangered, rather poisonous, and adorable hanging together from their little leaf shelter.

Before writing this chapter, Anne and I watched the first episode of the BBC’s inspiring, horrifying, utterly gorgeous Planet Earth II on Netflix, and now I’m ashamed of every inadequate animal photo we’ve ever taken. But let’s proceed with another batch of zoo memories anyway.

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Our 2010 Road Trip, Part 6: The Zoo That Chocolate Built

Chocolate Deer!

Sorry, chocoholics, this yummy-looking deer is merely a display item.

In my son’s youth we tried to accommodate him on our road trips with at least one kid-friendly stop, usually either an amusement park or zoo. This year, thanks to the generosity of groundbreaking chocolatier Milton Hershey, we got two for the price of one.

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Our 2008 Road Trip, Part 12: Walk with the Animals, Balk at the Animals

wildcat!

A teenager taking a reluctant wildcat on a walk. What’s the worst that could happen?

When my son was younger and first began tagging along on our road trips in 2003, we tried to include either one zoo or one amusement park on each itinerary as a concession for his sake. We’d already fulfilled the 2008 quota with an entire day spent at Busch Gardens Europe. On our way home we ran across another zoo we hadn’t considered, that hadn’t shown up in our review of mainstream Virginia brochures. We were in the area, the timing was convenient, and the sign out front promised tourists could have their pictures taken with live tiger cubs, presumably small and furry and adorable. That part sounded fun.

I mean, sure, we wound up having one of the most frightening moments in our entire 18-year road trip history. But hey: happy fun animals! Well, some of them. Sorta. The ones that weren’t bitter, at least.

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Indy Zoo Revue Finale: Habitats & Handicraft

Orangutanorama!

This one’s for the orangutans. Just the orangutans.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In June my wife and I took my mom for a walk around the premises of our own Indianapolis Zoo to check out the current residents and the architectural upgrades on a sunny but not-so-sweltering Saturday. In this very special miniseries, we’ll take a look at the beasts and critters who welcomed us and hundreds of other families along the way.

We conclude these galleries with a look at the scenes behind the animals — the spacious, sometimes lavish enclosures provided for the various residents at our zoo. When I was a kid, the old zoo on the east side was all about stacks of metal cages, concrete floors, and tightly crowded wildlife as depressing sideshow. My family has seen a number of zoos around the country over the past dozen years and appreciate those that defy the obsolete paradigm. If they can tuck in a few works of art around the edges for value-added visual flair, so much the better.

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