Zoo day!

Saturday morning Pittsburgh woke up to such promise of a spectacular day that my sisters and I headed to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium with our gaggle of children.  We didn’t realize it was Mr. Rogers’ Won’t You Be My Neighbor Day at the zoo, meaning free admission for kids, meaning all of Pittsburgh showed up with all of their children and their grandchildren and their aunts and uncles and third cousins four times removed and maybe some random people they picked up on the way to the zoo.

It was, in a word, a zoo.

Bah-bah-BAH! I’m here all week.  Try the veal! [finger guns]

Some notes:

  • The penguins sure are an entertaining bunch of animals.  Constantly trying to outdo each other.  I like penguins.  Are they birds?  If they’re birds, then they might be the first birds I’ve ever liked.  Oh, no wait.  I like birds that eat pigeons, so I also like hawks and falcons and pterodactyls.  So, to sum up.  Birds I like:  pigeon-killing birds and penguins, if they are birds.
  • We watched a baby sea lion continuously and openly defy its mommy sea lion who wanted the baby sea lion to stay in the water and swim.  Instead, the baby sea lion would hop up on deck, much to the barking anger of its mommy, and then the baby would hop up on some rocks, much to the louder barking of its mommy who was probably all, “YOU GET DOWN FROM THERE!  YOU’LL PUT YOUR EYE OUT!”  Then the baby sea lion would reach from the rocks to the wall and with his snout (nose? noggin? scientific sea lion nose term?) would try to knock one of the trainers tools off of the hook where it hung, and then the mommy would go all out pissed and hop up on the deck barking like a dingo all, “YOU ARE IN BIG TROUBLE, MISTER! JUST WAIT UNTIL YOUR FATHER SURFACES!” and the baby sea lion would be all, “PSYCH!” and jump in the water before its mommy could catch him.  I think the baby sea lion gave my kid some ideas.
  • My son, as we neared the elephants, screamed at the top of his lungs, “WHOA!  ELEPHANTS SMELL LIKE DIARRHEA!”  It was a proud moment.  I’m going to give myself a back-pat that he didn’t shout, “WHOA!  ELEPHANTS SMELL LIKE ASS!”
  • We all paid $10 to get our picture taken with an elephant and said elephant rewarded us by using his trunk to sniff and then smack my nephew in the “tenders” so to speak.  We’d have won $10,000 on America’s Funniest Home Videos if we’d been rolling film as my nephew crumbled to the ground in slow-motion while we all pointed and laughed.  Also, having stood close enough to get molested by one, I can confirm that elephants do indeed smell like diarrhea. And ass.
  • The sharks and the gorillas freak me out because they both look at me and they both speak to me menacingly with their eyes, “Silence! I kill you.
  • All in all a great day at one of my most favorite Pittsburgh spots.  Of course, once again, the polar bears didn’t swim despite the huge crowd of people just hanging out in the tunnel waiting for something to happen.  ANYTHING.  A ripple.  A pebble drop.  A toenail dipped in the clear water.  But the polar bears just watched the people from the safety of the rocks where they sat, breathing and blinking, all, “If they only knew we don’t even know HOW to swim. Suckas.”

The next time we go to the zoo, I’m going to take matters into my own hands and bring dead fish in my purse, and hope I reach the polar bears before the gorillas attack me all, “SILENCE!  I KILL YOU AND EAT YOUR FISH!”


  1. Bojack
    March 22, 2010 10:03 am

    Baby sea lion- “HAHA! Look Mom, I’m running with scissors!!”

  2. Jenny
    March 22, 2010 10:06 am

    I went on the zoo’s website Friday evening to check what was happ’nin ahead of time. I then called my mother whose idea it was to take my son to the zoo Saturday morn and told her of the “Good Neighbor Day” theme. Her response…”Oh hell no” Agreed, mama, agreed.

  3. Pens Fan
    March 22, 2010 10:14 am

    Gin – you forgot to write about all of us having dippin dots for the first time and then sat around discussing the weirdness of them :)

  4. Tina
    March 22, 2010 10:19 am

    What a PITY that the polar bear did not do you the favor to swimm.
    When I was in NYC’s Central Park Zoo a couple of years ago, polar bear Gus and his wife Ida, were swimming and diving a lot.
    It was one of the most beautiful things I’v ever seen: Massive bears performing weightless, graceful under-water-ballet.

    Fingers crossed that you get to see it next time at a probably less crowded day in the zoo.

    Greets from around the world (Germany)


    Visit Gus & Ida:

  5. SpudMom
    March 22, 2010 10:26 am

    It was a beautiful weekend here in The Burgh! Thank God spring has finally arrived!

    And just the mention of the zoo being what it was made me shiver and do a jig of glee that I no longer live in Morningside. There would have been no getting out of the neighborhood on Saturday.

  6. Gina
    March 22, 2010 10:46 am

    I have another Pittsburgh Zoo conspiracy theory to add to your theory that the Polar Bears don’t swim (which I agree with, btw).


    There is an area there for it and a sign proclaiming its existence, and even a huge pile of what appears to be its poop, though probably isn’t because I have been to the zoo approximately 7,273,401 times (rough estimation) and haven’t ever seen the actual animal in the flesh. Not even once. I’ve asked zoo staff and gotten multiple answers. Apparently it doesn’t like people, or the sun, or the rain, or the threat of rain, or the wind, and is extremely tired.

    So, to sum it all up….I have a conspiracy theory that there isn’t actually a rhinoceros at the Pittsburgh Zoo.

  7. Bojack
    March 22, 2010 10:59 am

    Lukey- “Hey Zober, are these immigrants in Highland Park Zoo paying any taxes? Why don’t we sell them to private investors and let them raise the rates a zillion % ?
    Call Chuck Zappala, award a $500K ‘no-bid’ contract to study this!

  8. Virginia
    March 22, 2010 10:59 am

    Dang. I love a good conspiracy theory, so I hate that I’m busting yours, but guess what? WE SAW THE RHINO! Hand to God. Plain as day, just hanging out. I don’t have picture proof though, SO THE CONSPIRACY LIVES ON!

  9. Bojack
    March 22, 2010 11:09 am

    Zober- “Lukey Sir, why don’t we just raise the rates ourselves
    and put the extra profit towards our debt?”

    Lukey- “Run it ourselves? Are you nuts! They have to be fed, medical, deal with the public, etc! We can’t run parking meters that are planted in a sidewalk, so how the eff can we run this??

    Besides, there might be more situations that call for me to be actually in town, so it would cramp my leisure…I mean fact-finding travel with my buds!”

  10. Matt
    March 22, 2010 11:30 am

    I am lucky enough to have seen the polar bears swimming and I have seen the rhino. I do have pictures of both just not uploaded anywhere. A zoo keeper there told me that the polar bears don’t spend all that much time in the water. I believe the number he gave me was only about 10 minutes a day. So if you want to see them swim, you pretty much need to go and sit there all day long.

  11. Ash
    March 22, 2010 11:30 am

    I think the giraffe’s have a conspiracy against my son (it’s the only animal he ever wants to see). Everytime we go they are reinventing their habitat or they are put away or we just can’t see them because they are 25000 feet tall. Also, he’s now afraid of the gorillas because the one charged the glass and I think we both shit our pants. Anyways, the zoo is still awesome because the polar bears are always in the water when we go. I have some wonderful pictures.

  12. facie
    March 22, 2010 11:33 am

    Poor nephew! But funny.

    I did see the polar bears swimming when I was there last year. I seem to recall one of them was throwing a garbage can or something. I also liked that there was a Pens banner in the penguins area. I might have gone to the zoo the day after the Pens won the cup, though. Good times.

    March 22, 2010 11:57 am

    For Ash, if you every come to Florida and visit Busch gardens, you can call ahead and take the savana truck ride.

    you ride in the back of an open bed truck, through the area with giraffes, etc. they feed the giraffes leaves that he gets with his 2 foot long tongue.

    It is a great time!!!! bring a camera and let them give a leaf to your son!!!

  14. Pensgirl
    March 22, 2010 12:05 pm

    Yes, penguins are birds.

    I hate going to the zoo. People are always frightening the animals. The last time I was there, everyone – adults included – was screaming at the elephants (yeah, 50 people yelling “HEY ELEPHANT, SQUIRT SOME WATER!” is really going to work), and then they’d go bang on the glass in all of the enclosed exhibits (in one case scaring awake a young gorilla that had been sleeping).

    I guess I would like it more if they banned all the jerks and idiots. But that’s life in general.

  15. Caroline
    March 22, 2010 12:05 pm

    I’ve seen the new polar bear exhibit like three times and they were swimming two of those three times. For a long long long time both times.

    Maybe they just hate you? Maybe they are friends of pigeons?

  16. red pen mama
    March 22, 2010 12:19 pm

    I love the zoo, but I avoid it on those “free” days. Mob-city.

    Loved your description of the baby sea lion and his mama. Kids are the same the world over.

    I’ve never seen the polar bears swimming, but I have see the rhino.

    Our last trip to the zoo resulted in Kate almost getting in the pool with the manta rays in the aquarium. She wanted to touch one that badly. She was quite a sight. As per usual.

  17. bluzdude
    March 22, 2010 12:28 pm

    Do they still have the little kibble machines that you’re supposed to use to feed the animals? I never understood that… like if you’ve ever been on the African plains, you never see the antelopes fishing for change in their pockets to get some of that kibble.

    What they ought to do is put some of those little “dinner gazelles” in coin-op machines, so people could feed the leopards.

    Speaking of, did you ever notice, when you’re watching a show on Animal Planet, how you feel about the big cats killing the gazelles depends on if the episode is about the big cat family or the gazelle family?

  18. Monty
    March 22, 2010 12:40 pm

    This has been bothering me for an hour or so. I can’t figure out if Mr. Rogers is in Koko’s lap, or Koko is in Mr. Rogers lap. It’s like an M.C. Escher sketch.

  19. ClumberKim
    March 22, 2010 12:52 pm

    The polar bears swim after they eat. If you see them eating, head for the tunnel. They will be in the water shortly.

    Rhino was out Sunday morning. Snow leopard was not present when we arrived or when we left, much to the dismay of my son who seems to think his dad has something to do with that cat.

  20. Amanda
    March 22, 2010 12:57 pm

    The bears always swim for me, I’ll give you a heads up next time we are planning a trip!

  21. Greg
    March 22, 2010 2:40 pm

    Now that answers the question. I was trying to drive down by the Zoo Saturday… and didn’t know what the deal was with all the traffic.

  22. Bojack_filter_Please
    March 22, 2010 3:05 pm

    the polar bears are always swimming when I go to the zoo… Maybe it is You?… :-)

  23. Mac S.
    March 22, 2010 4:32 pm

    I watched a National Geographic special on polar bears a while ago and am now scared shitless of them coming over the wall – the one that doesn’t seem so high anymore – and carry my youngin’ off like a baby seal. But I still love to watch them sun and scratch their backs against the rocks like very grumpy, very large, very hairy old men.

  24. Bojack
    March 22, 2010 4:41 pm


    What’s your real name smegma-breath?? Why do you have to hide, pussy??

  25. A visual tinkle
    March 22, 2010 8:42 pm

    We go to the zoo A LOT (like a lot a lot)They feed the polar bears at about 11:30-12 on weekdays. Some of the fish are thrown into the water so your guaranteed to see them swim for at least 2-3 min.
    The last time we were there we were the only ones in the shark tunnel and one of the keepers came out and talked to us and gave my 3yr old a handful of teeth from the bottom of the tank. It was pretty cool,

  26. PG Wodehouse
    March 23, 2010 1:51 am

    Are there any cheetahs in cheetah valley (or whatever they call it)? I have never seen them through the lush dense vegitation.