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July 25, 2003 - Friday
Again, just as with last year's trip, Friday was the day for the famed Pittsburgh zoo. And like last year, we arrived just as the zoo opened, came home for lunch and naps, then returned for a little play in the zoo's kiddie playground. Unlike last year, Grandpa John and "Grandma Judy" did not join us at the zoo, they needing to prepare for their wedding tomorrow evening. Instead, Aunt Lisa, Uncle Ben, and cousin Chloe, also here for the wedding came to the zoo. (There is Uncle Ben at the very left-hand edge of this picture and Chloe almost hidden behind Jeremy. Harry and Chloe are both touching a boa constrictor.)

I thought seeing and touching that snake would set Harry right after his initial contrary disposition about the zoo and, oddly, about not wanting to see the monkeys, and to a certain degree it worked. But, five minutes later he was freaked out by seeing the elephants. Admittedly, they are huge animals and they were standing as close as they possibly could to the open air viewing area, certainly less than 25 feet. I tried to explain to Harry that the moat between us and them was very deep. Indeed, Harry noticed and inquiried about the underwater fence that I explained would be sure to keep the elephants on their side, but the logic and his emotions failed to connect. Jeremy was a little ambivalent, even though all his favorite books right now are about or include animals. Chloe, on the other hand, was captivated.

It really wasn't until we reached the aquarium that Harry, indeed all three kids, really let loose with excitement. Here's Harry lecturing on about an octopus' tentacles and how they suction onto the glass. (He learned that a month or two ago at school.) Speaking of precociousness, as we walked up to the petting area with the kangaroos, Harry quite matter-of-factly said, "maybe the joey will come over to see me." He learned in school that a baby kangaroo is called a joey, which was particularly curious to him because there was at the time a boy named Joey in the class, too. But still, I found is ability to come back and use it in a sentence so casually a few months later quite surprising.

These seals were one of Harry's favorite animals last year and they were again this year, although we didn't have as long to linger here as we did last year. Harry was explaining all about the seals to this another little boy who was the same size, but could barely speak a word. I look around for his mother in hopes of reassuming her that Harry was small for his age and probably a year older, but she was not obvious in the crowd.

And, speaking of the petting zoo, last year Harry found these goats and sheep too intimidating to touch, insisting we leave the area. Happily, he seemed to have conveniently forgotten that anxiety this time.

Finally, Harry loved these naked-mole-rat tunnels last year and did again this year. For better and worse, so did Jeremy. For about ten minutes, maybe longer, Jeremy played happily, going all the way up to the third level (as in this picture to the left, Harry is below on the second level) without a second thought, and with Harry staying and playing fairly close by. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, there on the highest level, Jeremy hit a wall and wanted to get out. I tried to encourage Harry to go get him, and Harry did earnestly try, but Jeremy would have none of it. Eventually, I went in myself.

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