Up until 7th grade, I lived in New Jersey. With most of our family being in Pittsburgh, we’d make frequent trips out here to come visit. I was always so excited when we’d head to The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium during our visits. One year, my mom had a birthday party at the zoo for my sister and I in Pittsburgh so that more of my family could be there, and it’s one of the first memories I have of so many of us being together. I love visiting zoos in other cities when I travel, but the Pittsburgh Zoo will always have a special place in my heart!
It doesn’t matter how old I am or whether or not there are kids coming along, I’ll always be thrilled to go to the zoo. I especially enjoyed this zoo adventure because I love watching Shaun’s excitement. He loves animals, so with such hectic and busy lives, it’s nice to see him somewhere where he can pause to enjoy the moments. When we’re somewhere with the camera out, I have a tendency to frenziedly run around trying to find the best spots and take as many photos I can. Shaun, on the other hand, always slows down to soak up the surroundings and appreciate what’s in front of us, which acts as a reminder for me to do the same.
Spanning 77 beautiful acres of greenery and thoughtful construction, the Pittsburgh Zoo has over 4,000 animals on its grounds, and places it’s focus on conservation. Out of all the times I’ve been to the zoo, I always find that going at a cooler time is more likely to result in seeing active animals. I’ve been there a few times in the fall months and that’s when everyone seems to be up on their feet walking around and playing the most. Even though it’s the summer now, I’m confident we saw more animals by arriving towards the end of the day (we got there around 4 pm) rather than going when it’s super hot in the afternoon – at that time most animals just seem to be sitting tucked away in the shade.
We spent the next few hours getting up close to the tiger, scaring away the giraffes (you’ll have to watch this week’s YouTube video, haha), trying to figure out what these two ostriches were trying to say to each other, and exploring the zoo’s new butterfly garden. I love “The Islands”, which is a newer section of the zoo and is designed as a tropical oasis and home to animals like clouded leopards, Galápagos tortoises, and crocodiles. There’s also a sandy area that really makes you feel like you’re walking by a beach!
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved animals. Like, borderline obsessed at different points of my life with different types. I remember a time when snakes were all I would research in elementary school. Then sharks took the top spot. After that I believe it was lions. You get the point. So, naturally, I’m drawn to zoos and the opportunity to see all of these amazing creatures up close. At the same time, I have a hesitancy about them, because I know I would hate to live my life in a cage or small enclosure.
However, my prevailing mindset is that zoos provide more pros than cons. Things like protecting/saving endangered species and providing animals with top-notch care are benefits that we likely would be unable to provide without zoos. I know that there are cons, I’m not naive to that, but, if I’m being honest, are they any safer in the wild these days? Poachers and trophy hunters alone pose an extinction level risk to many of these animals. But, I digress; that’s not the reason for this post. Today, we’re focusing on positivity and the joy that our day at the zoo provided us with.
As if the anticipation of spending time at the zoo wasn’t exciting enough, on top of that, we actually had a beautiful day in Pittsburgh; imagine that! We actually got off to a later start than I was anticipating, but that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. By the time we got to the zoo, everyone else was wrapping up their day. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it felt like we were the only ones there for the majority of our stay. It was incredibly relaxing to be able to take our time while appreciating the animals, and also having plenty of time and space to take photos.
Seeing all the animals made me feel like that little boy in elementary school again. This world is full of fantastic, breathtaking creatures that I truly wish I had the opportunity to observe in their natural environments. For now, I’ll have to settle for visiting them at the zoo, and continuing to believe and hope that the human race has the best interest of these incredible animals in mind and at heart.