The Oregon Zoo is fantastic. This is well-known and established and has already been talked about here in earlier posts. While the topic of zoos can be controversial, there is no doubt that they serve a great purpose in preserving species and in rehabilitating animals that can no longer survive in the wild.
In recent years, the Oregon Zoo has seen the birth of several Asian elephants, helping these magnificent endangered creatures to continue on. Last year at the Oregon Zoo was especially exciting, however, with the birth of both a river otter pup (Ziggy, a male born in November of 2013) and triplet lion cubs (Kamali, Zalika and Angalia).
I remember seeing Lion King. Simba was sure cute and he grew into a strong and healthy lion. But, Africa is far away. It’s expensive to get there, not to mention difficult to get the time off from work to go. “I’ll never see a lion cub.” I used to lament to my wife. “Unless I watch the Discovery Channel.”
Thankfully, the Oregon Zoo, right in the heart of Portland, has changed my pessimistic assessment.
This weekend, I decided to take the kids to the zoo. This was not a hard sell.
Saturday, as the Portland sun shined warmth on late winter, we hopped the MAX for the Oregon Zoo. My kids were excited, but I was well-past jubilant. A baby lion? Here in Portland? Times three? Pinch me. I must be dreaming.
The line for the zoo was typically serpentine but it was abuzz with lion cub and otter pup talk. Time flew and before I knew it, I was up at the front shelling out a pittance for the chance to witness nature in bloom. Upon entering, I eschewed my normal route of grizzly bears, mountain goats, penguins, elephants and sea anemones. Today I was on a mission. These lions were already six months old. Time flies. Before long, they would be full-fledged killing kittens.
And suddenly, there they were. Moderately sized balls of golden fluffy playfulness. I couldn’t believe it, before my very eyes, Simba—or the non-Disney equivalent thereof. Could it get any better? Yes, it could. They began to wrestle—three lion tots, rolling around, frolicking and engaging in all kinds of rambunctiousness. Nature is indeed majestic and the lion cubs were everything I could have possibly hoped for.
After my lengthy lion fix, I did check out the rest of the zoo. I’d seen it all before but it still delighted and surprised me. And then we reached the otter exhibit and my exuberance returned again. Ziggy the otter was swimming. Otters don’t know how to swim when they’re born… their mamas have to show them. The family and I watched as he playfully struggled and swam under mama’s watchful eye. We watched as she dragged him to shore by the tail, hoping for a rest. We watched a nature scene that we would have never otherwise gotten to see.
The Oregon Zoo always surprises and delights, but with all the baby animals currently on display, there has never been a better time to check things out.