We were toying with the idea of taking a trip to the Tulsa Zoo the weekend of both Colt's birthday and Father's Day. And we've been a little worried about it since Toddlerhood's number one lesson for us has been to expect the unexpected. We had no idea if he would love it or hate it – or if it might be just a little early for him to be interested.

So we did a dry run. To Gentry. Northwest Arkansas doesn't have a zoo – per se – but just west of town there is an area of  almost 200 acres that operates as:


Complete with random, roaming peacocks. (Yep, real peacocks. Just hangin' out at the entrance.)  Gentry's Safari was perfect for our Zoo Dress Rehearsal, so we loaded up after naptime on Saturday and headed for the wilderness.

There are a few different portions of the park: the drive-thru safari, various caged exhibits, and an open area for a petting zoo. We walked around a bit and I loved that Colt was all about the animals, though he more or less ran from cage to cage – not spending much time in any one place. (This is a calf. He was trying to feed it some rocks. How thoughtful.)



He LOVED the monkeys. He sat and watched the monkeys longer than anything else. In fact, the biggest problem we had that afternoon is that he is completely fearless of the animals. Most of the cages had two sets of fence – thank goodness – because he would happily stick his entire arm through the wire to get closer!

As we walked through, we came upon this Mama camel and her baby. The handler informed us the baby had been born THAT DAY. He was only about 6 hours old! It's tough to see him behind the Mama, the baby is snow white and was learning how to eat.
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We made our way over to the petting zoo area and after deciding that we didn't trust Colt OR the kangaroos to play nice… we found the sweetest little spotted pony and a cute little donkey - each of which had a baby with her.
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Colt wasn't the least bit intimidated by them. We've been working on our gentleness lately… and this was one of those real life lessons – with teeth! But these had to be the most patient donkeys EVER. They were so sweet and let Colt stroke their fur and touch their ears and poke his finger in their noses…
After we survived the donkeys, we took a snack break then headed to the drive-thru. We obeyed the rules of staying in the car with our windows up – so no pictures from that part. But it was amazing! Tigers, lions, cougars, rhinos, hippos, water buffalo, bears, alligators, warthogs, all kinds of deer, llamas, camels, wolves — it was really cool. Colt liked watching the animals from the comfort of his seat – but some of them were a little hard to see, laying down or sleeping in their cages.
Zoo verdict: We decided we completely understand why people put their kids on those backpack leashes! And we are not opposed to getting one for our next such outing. "Hold Mama's hand" is WAY too hard to remember when there are MONKEYS! And CAMELS! And PEACOCKS! He likes the animals, but doesn't have much patience for enjoying them from afar. We may wait till the end of the summer to take the trip over to Tulsa. And hope that his attention span doubles or triples to a full minute by then!  

4 thoughts on “Dry Run

  1. Monkey leash! I think it may be time to get one! Hahahaha.

  2. We took Zachary for his second birthday and it went great. It helps that the park is big and they willingly ride in the stroller for a bit. I have a monkey backpack that you can borrow for your big adventure if you decide to go!

  3. We took the kids to the Kansas City Zoo last year. They loved it. Here’s the secret. Leave REALLY early in the morning, drive directly to the zoo, enjoy the day, then head to the hotel with the water park to crash, then water park in the morning and drive home that afternoon.

    They sleep through all the drive time and everyone has fun.

  4. A couple things–

    First off, baby donkeys are seriously one of the cutest things on Earth. I love how they’re born with adult-sized ears…

    And second– the first pic of Colt and the donkey looks like he’s standing directly behind it. I’m glad that didn’t end as bad as it could’ve…

    Great pictures!

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