Berlin, OH/Pittsburgh, PA - Events of Friday, September 25, 2015
With all our appointments over, we wanted to do something fun on Friday morning before heading back to Berlin. We were happy when Lora suggested going to the zoo. Not only would it be fun watching Lydia watch the animals; but we haven't been there for at least 25 or 30 years, and we were curious to see all the changes that had been made.
The Pittsburgh Zoo, then called the Highland Park Zoo, was opened in the Highland Park area of Pittsburgh in 1898 thanks to a gift of $125,000 (about $4 million in today's dollars) from philanthropist Christopher Lyman Magee. The zoo provided visitors with glimpses of animals most people had never seen.
We headed out to the zoo around 9:00 on Friday morning right after breakfast and right after the morning rush hour. The air was cool, but the sun was warm as we headed into the zoo.
Although Lydia rode in the stroller much of the time, she also did some walking. She still needs to hold a hand when walking long distances, especially outside on uneven ground, but she is getting to be very mobile.
The first area we came to was the Asian Forest and an exhibit of Amur Tigers.
In addition to the tigers and several other animals, the Asian Forest area also had Amur Leopards.
We then moved into the African Savanna where the first exhibit had brightly colored flamingos.
Also in the savanna were giraffes, zebras, lions, cheetahs, rhinos and several types of antelopes. In the same exhibit as the antelopes was also an ostrich.
One of Paul's favorite zoo animals is the elephant. Lydia seemed to like them, too.
The Tropical Forest opened in 1991. It is a 5-acre, indoor rainforest that houses 16 species of primates. Different species of the monkeys and apes are in separate enclosures in the forest. The next photo shows Margery holding Lydia while checking out the gorillas.
When the zoo was first built, it was constructed the same way as all zoos at that time with a series of indoor and outdoor cages to house the animals. In the 1980s, the Pittsburgh Zoo, along with most zoos around the world, began to develop more naturalistic habitats in which to display the animals. The last time we were at the Pittsburgh Zoo, they were just starting to transform the exhibits.
The only thing we recognized from the old zoo were the remains of the bear enclosures. Built in 1937 as a WPA project, the bear enclosures were some of the earliest attempts at naturalistic animal exhibits. They were huge stone enclosures built into the side of a hill. There were no bars. The animals were confined by a deep chasm and a vertical wall in front and high stone walls in back. There were several enclosures that each housed a different kind of bear.
The stone bear enclosures are no longer used. Most of them have been almost completely filled in to match the original contour of the hill with only the tops of the stone walls visible. Trees have even been planted to eventually blend the remnants of the enclosures into the hillside. One bear enclosure has had only the chasm in front filled in so you can still see the general shape of the original enclosure.
The only bears at the zoo now are two polar bears housed in a new, larger enclosure called the Water's Edge.
The AquaZoo, which was originally opened in 1967, was renovated, expanded and reopened as the PPG Aquarium in 2000. It is located adjacent to the Water's Edge and houses fish and aquatic life of all kinds. Shown below are just a few of the hundreds of kinds of fish and aquatic life in the PPG Aquarium.
Also housed in the aquarium are the penguins. It's fun to watch them waddle around on land, then jump into the water where they are very fast and graceful.
After leaving the aquarium, we happened to pass by the sea lion exhibit on our way to the exit, and they were just starting a demonstration of sea lion training. The training of the sea lions is not just a way to teach them tricks to entertain visitors, but it is primarily a way to stimulate the animals. All the so-called tricks are related to the natural behavior of the sea lions in the wild.
After watching the sea lions, we continued toward the exit. We stopped for photos at a bronze sculpture of a tortoise.
We made a stop for lunch at Qdoba on the way back to the house, then finished packing stuff in the truck and made the two-hour drive to the 5th wheel back in Berlin. We have less than a week before we're scheduled to head south. We hope to have another update before we leave.