Members for 14 years, countless visits, first name basis with most the animals, kiddos were looking forward to Summer Camps, and then, bam, Covid-19 hit! Zoo closed. Sure we appreciated & enjoyed watching the Facebook Videos and seeing and learning more about some of our favorite animals during quarantine but it wasn’t the same. So once we got the ah-mazing news that the zoo would be reopening we couldn’t wait!
After two months, four weeks, ½ hour of frustration online, 1-1/2 hours on hold, and finally a kind and very patient zoo employee walking me through the process via phone we had our tickets/reservations for reopening day!!!! Our excitement, anticipation, (and unfairly), our expectations were through the roof! We anticipated walking right back into history, the way things used to be, our pre-global-pandemic life. Having such unrealistic expectations for the Zoo really wasn’t fair to any living creature….the animals, the employees, directors, or us. This is probably why our visit started off with a bit of disappointment.
As we pulled into the zoo I drove up to the booth and pressed my phone against the window so our tickets/reservations could be scanned (per the request of the zoo directions sent to members that held tickets/reservations). But instead of scanning my “tickets” the attendant gestured for me to put on a mask. (Internal dialog….CRAP! I must have misread the lengthy directions somewhere!?! Was I supposed to have a mask on as I entered the zoo???) Nope! Turns out their scanners weren’t working very well so they just needed to write down names and dates the old fashion way with pen and paper 😉
We parked and entered the zoo!!!! (Expectations still really high & pre-global pandemic)
As we walked through the tunnel we were greeted by a hand washing station. And you’ll find them throughout the zoo.
Then we followed the arrows on the ground around to the Polar Bear Exhibit which was closed, only outdoor viewing was available. Well, we got to see a Polar Bears butt (that was the first thing we saw after 3 months, a Polar Bears butt, lol!) and then onto the Giraffes.
If you look close enough you can see a giraffe, honest! I was starting to lose the kiddos interest, all hope lied on the other side of the zoo.
As we made our way to the other side of the zoo we were greeted by more of the same….
And then the girls had to use the restroom which allowed for 3 women at a time….we patiently waited and entered one-by-one.
After that the kiddos were growing restless, we NEEDED to see animals!!! Animals they knew & loved! We headed off to see our fave elephant, Renee….
As we walked up it was as if she remembered us, as if she was just as excited to see us as we were to see her. We missed her and it clearly seemed like she missed us….
After we left Renee we realized we missed another friend and headed to the Aquarium. Once there we joined the line to get in, carefully spaced 6 feet apart as to cooperate with the Health Department Protocol. Though, the kids were not amused. I even tried to make it fun, like a game, “Yay, we’re moving onto the next square!!” to no avail.
Half hour later we were in! And once back with our old friends the kiddos hope was renewed.
I tried my best to keep reminding them that no one did this out of spite, this all occurred, and is, continuing to occur in order to keep us as safe as possible….including the Zoo employee who followed us w/ sanitizing spray spraying any and every possible surface in the aquarium.
After visiting the Aquarium the kiddos were hungry and since we weren’t able to pack anything to bring per the Health Department’s requirements of the Zoo, we hit up the tent outside (the Carnivore Café is currently closed). Our options were…hamburger, cheese burgher, chips, pizza, pretzel w/cheese, etc. basically every processed food you could image and sans any fruit or veggies….thus, pizza it was!
After lunch we stopped into the ProMedica Museum and attempted to see a few more exhibits and animals.
Though we probably only saw 25% of the animals we had anticipated seeing it was a magnificent day, why? Because it was 100% more animals than we had seen in person in the last 3 months!! Was the experience far less than I had anticipated? Yes! Was it the Zoo’s fault? NO!!! I’m still very much thankful and grateful for our amazing zoo and SOOO appreciate the fact that they were willing to come back at less than 100% so that we could have our amazing encounters with animals!
Will we renew our membership? Most definitely! The Zoo had no idea Covid-19 was coming, this was out of their hands, and they are doing their best to abide by the Health Department’s guidelines as they welcome us back. We should look at it as an honor to be welcomed back like this, we are like family, a family that appreciates and understands the circumstances your currently going through. So, thank you Toledo Zoo for being willing to open up and welcome us members back, together we will get through the next few months (#inthistogether), and look forward to the amazing events, camps, and happenings to come!!!
We LOVE our ZOO, hey, how about you?