An Impromptu Day at the Zoo

IMG_3446.JPGWhen we got up this morning, we had a choice to make. We could do our normal Sunday activities, which would involve work, or we could have a bit of a family day.

Now, to be honest, family days are hard to come by, mostly because work is not only ever-present, but increasing and increasingly complex. At any given point, I’ve got at least three different sets of job responsibilities so taking time off isn’t easy.

That said, Monki’s been feeling a little under the weather lately and, in fact, the weather has been under the weather. Last week it was snowing (albeit briefly) and the skies have been gray and dingy. So when we got up today and the skies were a little bluer, and Monki’s nose was a little clearer, we decided “to hell with it, who needs sleep, I can work tonight” and decided to take a little road trip.

See, ever since we got the car, Rasa has been looking for little trips we could take. Since Lithuania isn’t that large a country, and Kaunas is pretty much in the middle, nothing is more than a few hours away. But she found a small, family run zoo about an hour away, just north of the Polish border.

We loaded up the car, grabbed the kid, and headed out. It wasn’t a bad ride, Rasa’s first time doing any serious highway driving, and in short order we were there.

Now, this isn’t a bad place, but it’s still not the “season” so we weren’t even sure they’d be open (the policy was they’d open the doors provided the weather was okay – it was). There’s a fair bit of space so I assume that come summer time, there will be more animals roaming the hills and valleys. As it stands, they have a nice collection of big cats (some white tigers, some regular tigers, a couple of pumas and leopards, and a lion, who was sleeping). They also have a small family of monkeys and a zebra. Aside from that, it’s pretty much farm animals: lots of goats, some llamas and ponies, and a bison.

For adults, it may not be worth the €6/each entry fee, but for the (free) under three set, this was amazing! When we first got there, Monki was a bit scared of pretty much everything. She liked looking at the white tigers (the first creatures on display) but the monkeys not so much. And the goats? The goats terrified her. So we looked at the big cats (across from the goats) and mommy held onto her while we strolled past.

IMG_3456.JPGBut they had a little feed machine. for €.20 you could get a handfull of popcorn seeds to feed the goats. So I did.

Monki was fascinated.

It didn’t take long before she was curious as to what I was doing and then letting the goats eat from her outstretched mittened hand. Before long she was making bleating noises and petting them without the gloves on! She was having a great time! So great, she didn’t want to leave that area to see anything else.

Eventually, we got her away and saw what little else there was. But the zoo had one more suprise for the little one. See, she loves cats. Has since she was an even littler one. Whenever she takes a walk outside, she’ll always chase the homeless kitties in hopes of being able to pet one. So far, she’s had no luck.

Until today.

IMG_3471.JPGToday, there was a few common housecats wandering the zoo grounds. And they were friendly and unafraid of little girls chasing after them. So when our little girl caught up to one, it graciously accepted the idea of being patted and stroked and getting a little bit of love. After that, there really wasn’t much else left. Seriously, there was nothing else to see, so we said good bye to the little cats and good bye to the big cats and headed back home. All told, we were there for maybe 90 minutes. Maybe. But even with the 2+ hour round trip thrown in, it was totally worth it to see her face as she finally was able to feel a cat’s fur.

And sure, we’ll be going back, once the season really get underway. Because even if it’s just to feed goats and pet cats, it’s definitely time well spent.

And now, having spent a wonderful day with the family, it’s time to put the little one to bed and get back to the work at hand.

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