Sunday, April 5, 2009

Wild Animal Park Adventure

A few days ago Bill and I took Katie to the Wild Animal Park for the first time. She LOVED
seeing all of the animals, and I loved watching her react and process and savor. At each enclosure, she would say "hi" to the animals and then invariably would attempt to climb into their habitat. Particularly enamored of the meerkats, the gorillas, and the giraffes, Kate also watched the flamingos for awhile, was pointing to the rhinos from the tram, and enjoyed scouting the birds. The "wild animal" of the day, though, had to be the tethered hot air balloon that gave rides over by the lions. She kept waving and talking to it and could spot it from various locations all over the park.

By lunchtime, her new word was "animal" pronounced, "a-mal." Cute. Very cute. She was saying it all day, and I loved how quickly she seemed to internalize the experience. She fell asleep shortly after our later lunch as I walked into one of the stores to gift her a book. We thought about waiting her out so we could take her to see the elephants and condors and so on, but we decided to make it a half day. She loved the park so much---and it was so easy to take her---that we decided to pay a little extra as we left for the annual membership, which also extends to the San Diego Zoo. I have never had annual passes to any place, but this seems right. Just watching her eyes light up, her brain engage... We have a couple of free guest passes, so I am hoping to use one of them to take Mom to see the butterfly exhibit with us later this month. Mom deserves to go since she has been working hard on the new house and since she told us about the butterflies to begin with. But Bill and I are definitely eager to return with Kate...

I feel like I have discovered the Wild Animal Park for the first time, though I have been before. When we went, it wasn't crowded at all and most of the people there were moms with strollers. It is really toddler-friendly and I can't wait to go back. It is about as close as the mall, so I can hop over there with Kate anytime.

I just can't wait to take her back to see what else she learns...

Here are Katie and Daddy watching the lions.

See the lions on the rock!
When we got home, she wanted to draw the animals she saw with me and then she got all of her Little People animals from her barn and her Noah's Ark and brought them over to the table with the blocks. I asked her if she wanted to build an animal park for her animals, and she enthusiastically gave her sign for "yes." We spent a long time building and talking about what we saw and remembered. Teaching Kate is so rewarding, and I love to watch her interest in life develop.