It’s a Zoo Out There
By Ashley McIlwain
Since I was a kid growing up in Pennsylvania, I repeatedly heard about the San Diego Zoo. It was supposed to be the zoo of all zoos, and I always wanted to go there. I could only dream of all the different animals delighting my senses with their beauty and exoticism. Maybe someday …
That day did finally come! Part of my husband Steve’s birthday celebration for me this year was to take me to the San Diego Zoo. Honestly, it was like my inner child was unlocked as I anxiously awaited the exploration of a childhood dream. It didn’t disappoint.
After getting some insider tips from one of the workers, we set out to see what we could see. The grounds are huge spanning one hundred acres which house over 4,000 rare and endangered animals representing more than 800 species and subspecies. Some of my favorite animals to see included the elephants, giraffes, lions, tigers, hippos, grizzly bears, polar bears, panda bears, and the koalas. We even got to see a tiger with two of her cubs, and a hippo with her baby as well – both of which were incredible and rare sights. Amidst all of the animals though, the highlight of my day was seeing rhinoceroses.
Having never seen rhinos in person before, I was completely enamored with these beasts. Their skin sectioned off in a way that made them appear to have armor on. Despite their large size, they were surprisingly fast and agile. There were two out when we were at their display, and they seemed to enjoy friendly combat with one another. After rough housing for a while, they would take off with surprising speed leaving behind dust clouds in their wake. All around, the rhinos were remarkable to see and watch in action.
Another bright spot in the day came at the orangutan display. Having seen these furry, funny, and friendly creatures several times before, I didn’t have particularly high expectations. There was a crowd huddled around a spot where one of the orangutans was closely hanging around the glass, so I decided to head over to a vacant spot away from everyone. As I crouched down, one of the orangutans walked right over and faced me. We stared curiously at each other for several minutes only separated by inches of glass. It was an incredible and surreal experience that left me marveled.
Honestly, I could go on and on about my day at the zoo. It was an amazing experience that left me pondering just how incredible God is to have created all of these spectacular animals. My childhood dreams were realized and expectations surpassed as I savored a whimsical day with the love of my life. Together, hand-in-hand, we relished in the amazement and splendor of God’s creation. From spots to stripes, fast to slow, large to small, God has weaved together an inspiring mix of masterpieces – a good reminder of how powerful, awesome, and magnificent our Creator really is.
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