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Tuesday 19 February 2013

Oakland Zoo

A few weekends back we took the girls to the zoo. Oakland Zoo that is.

We're really lucky here in Berkeley to be surrounded by so many fabulous places to take the kids. There really is just so much to see in the Bay Area. And we don't just have one zoo within easy access, we've got two. Well, at least two that I know of. Every day a new and exciting place to take the kids pops up on my radar.

For Christmas last year my parents organised a membership for Oakland Zoo for our family. I love the idea of giving experiences as gifts so I was really excited about this particular present. As we live on the opposite side of the world to our family and have a relatively small apartment experiences really are the best gifts. No expensive postage costs from Australia, no extra clutter in the apartment and a great day out for the entire family. Perfect!

Ava climbs on a frog statue in the Children's Zoo

Like most of our trips out and about we arrived at Oakland Zoo a little later than planned. If you know me at all then you won't be surprised by this one bit! In fact, we had actually planned to go bed shopping for Ava in the morning and visit the zoo in the afternoon so we had a Zipcar for the day - and an excuse for being late! Although I can't really use that excuse as we gave up on the idea of bed shopping (online shopping wins again!) and headed straight to the zoo instead - arriving just as Lola drifted off to sleep in the car.

After a quick bite for lunch outside the zoo's Island Cafe we headed off to see the animals. We had planned on hopping aboard the Outback Express Adventure Train for a ride through Wild Australia first up but Lola was still asleep in her stroller so instead we set off on foot through the Tropical Rain Forest section. After checking out gibbons, chimpanzees, squirrel monkeys and the aptly named (and quite ugly) griffon vultures we headed to the Reptile and Amphibian House. Lola woke up just in time to see what was housed inside. Here we found snakes, lizards and the most amazingly colourful frogs. Such amazing frogs. Of course, the hoppy little guys wouldn't stay still for photos (and their glass enclosure was covered in the fingerprints of hundreds of curious little visitors) so you'll have to forgive the blurriness of the shots.


Ava checks out the colourful frogs

Lots of bright little frogs. The blue ones are amazing. 

Yellow frog

The blue and yellow frogs were my favourites. 

The highlight of our trip to Oakland Zoo was the Safari Sky Ride with it's amazing views over the zoo, San Francisco skyline and the bay. Ava had been quite hesitant to board the open gondola (similar to a ski lift) but once she was up in the air, and comfortable with the fact that she was indeed secure she really enjoyed it. Lola being too young to really feel fear of such things was perfectly happy to climb aboard and watch the views below her. The Sky Ride affords visitors a totally new perspective of the zoo. From above you can truly appreciate just how large and lush with greenery the 45 acre park is. Seeing animals such as lions, tigers and giraffes from above is quite amazing. I'm sure that we would have had trouble spotting the tigers and lions from the ground had we just viewed them from the front of their enclosures (something we ran out of time to do) but from above there was almost no hiding from us! At the top of the zoo there is an enclosure featuring bison and elk. These majestic beasts can only be viewed from the Sky Ride as you fly above. What a way to see the zoo.

Little feet on the Sky Ride

That giraffe doesn't look so tall from up here!
Hello down there tiger

Lola aboard the Sky Ride

Don't fall off above the lions!

Hello shadow!
Kim and Ava behind us

Elk in the top field

Heading back

Jumping off at the end

Both Ava and Lola ranked the Sky Ride as their favourite part of the zoo as well. Close behind though was the goat and sheep barn where the kids could get a little hands on experience with the wooly creatures. They took it in turns brushing a goat in the barn and followed the goats and sheep outside in the grassy (and muddy!) area.

Brushing a goat

Brushing a goat

Lola and Kim - no idea what she's doing with her hand!

Hello goat

Posing goat

Ava's new friend


Lola picking flowers in the goat & sheep enclosure

A Lola sized goat!

A little small for Ava 

The Children's Zoo area in general was a big hit with the girls. Here we found all sorts of things to climb and play on: frog and bug statues, tortoise shells to climb through, hollow tree slides, bumpy rabbit hole slides and rubbery lily pads to bounce across. A nice little lawn area proved perfect for practising somersaults, cartwheels and headstands.

Tortoise shell Ava

Hollow tree slide

Lola bumps her way down the rabbit hole slide

Ava bounces across the lily pads

Lola was a little unsure of the lily pads.
In fact, right after this she stepped off the edge into the water!

Ava on a ladybug

A toad stool?

Ava practises head stands on the grass

We all agreed that our favourite animals in the Children's Zoo area were the alligators. That does sound a little odd doesn't it, but don't worry, they were well behind glass.


Alligators and turtles

The end of our day at the zoo came around far too soon. While we were sad to leave the zoo there was one thing that made the girls a little happier - the penny squisher machine! The girls love collecting squished pennies whenever we visit tourist spots. They've got quite the collection already and now they have pennies from Oakland Zoo to add to their penny folders.

Lola squishes her penny

With our annual membership we'll be heading back to Oakland Zoo again fairly soon. The girls can't wait to go on the Outback Express Adventure Train, and maybe, just maybe, the Sky Ride again.


  1. Oh my gosh, I love this zoo! The frogs are so cute - and they have such amazing colours!! But the best thing of all - the sky ride! How cool!

    1. Another one to add to the list of places to take you when you visit :)


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