Yesterday, my daughter, mother, sister in-law, nieces and I arrived at the Philadelphia Zoo in the evening ready for some amazing sights. While the animals slumbered, the beautiful lights and decorations lit the night’s sky at their annual Luminature event. There was a huge light-up penguin show, a big flamingo tree, shimmer just about everywhere we turned, a sea display and gorgeous Christmas trees, and we were enamored by it all!
What made this evening extra special was watching my daughter and niece’s faces light up as they walked and even raced to the next light display letting out joyous giggles. I’m so grateful for these moments and am glad Quinn expressed interest in going for a third time.
On this absolutely beautiful autumn day there’s no place I’d rather be than with my “boos” at the Philadelphia Zoo. Since my daughter was a toddler, we’ve been getting dressed up and heading to the zoo for some October fun, and for the past five years or so, it’s become an annual cousin outing with my mom (their nana), and we have so much fun together.
Quinn and I both look forward to getting dressed up, and this year was no different. Since we’ve been super heroes in the past, we decided to go as supervillains: Harley Quinn and Joker. I just love our matching costumes and bonding time.
Yesterday, we were all bundled up and ready to brave the cold weather and darkness knowing that we would soon witness spectacular sights of twinkling lights and displays at the Philadelphia Zoo.’s Luminature event. We attended in 2019 and didn’t get to go in 2020 due to Covid restrictions, so it made it that much more special this year.
My daughter observed how we had to go at night when it was dark. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to fully see the lights. This made me think about the significance of darkness, especially with what many of us have endured with being away from our loved ones and spending most of our time indoors. Sometimes to have a greater appreciation for the light, we must welcome darkness.
It was even more amazing than we recalled, and there were new displays that left us captivated. I’m so glad we didn’t allow the cold and darkness to stop us from enjoying this special outing with our aunt and cousins.
“I’m so excited! We’re all going to be back together again, Mommy!” My daughter said as we got ready this morning. When I informed Quinn that we’ve seen our cousins and her Nana (my mom), she said, yes, but this is the first time since the pandemic that we’ll be together. The last time was actually at Boo at the Zoo in 2019.
After many restrictions and adjusting to the many new norms, I felt a sense of joy knowing that we would finally be reconnecting with our usual crew too. We all came ready in our cool and creative costumes with smiles on our faces, occasionally behind our masks while in large groups, and had a great time trick or treating while strolling along and seeing the animals. There was a chance of not just rain but thunderstorms. Instead, the sun was shining, and it was unseasonably warm. We didn’t even need our sweatshirts and got ice cream to cool off.
I just love seeing Quinn with her cousins having a blast. We both missed these interactions so much and am glad we were able to have fun together this year at one of our favorite Halloween events.
The past year most certainly has been quite different. Many of the traditions my daughter and I look forward to have either been canceled or modified beyond recognition. Though there was no free Rita’s water ice for the first day of spring yesterday, we still had a wonderful time spending a day at the zoo with our cousins.
We were pleasantly surprised to see that many of the animals were our and about and quite vocal too. We’ve been going to the zoo since Quinn was a baby, but yesterday was the first time we saw and heard the lion roar. In some weird way, it offered us comfort in knowing that the lion was claiming the day and was ready for spring to get underway. While we are still navigating these new norms, seeing the animals, being in the fresh air and feeling the sun as we casually walked around was a wonderful way to bring in the spring.
The weather was perfect, and the view was absolutely mesmerizing with colors from just about every spectrum in the rainbow. Though my daughter and I, along with my friend and her daughter, were at the Philadelphia Zoo, we were magically transported into a spectacular world of lights reminiscent of scenes from the movie Avatar: Luminature!
Immediately upon entering the gates, I kept stopping every few feet to take pictures and admire the beautiful scenes while the girls were eager to get to the next light display. My six year old said, “You’re walking so slow, Mommy! You never walk that slow!” I couldn’t help myself. The lights had me totally captivated as though I was in a trance. Seeing the lights and displays, hearing the background music and the giggles from the girls and feeling the joy in the atmosphere truly touched my spirit.
It made me think about the power of light and the occasional necessity for darkness. In order to fully enjoy and see the beautiful lights, it needed to be dark. Then we could fully appreciate the illuminated pathways, trees and displays as we navigated through the zoo. Sometimes we may have dark moments in life, but a little light can give us a glimmer hope.
When I look at my daughter, I see her as a beautiful light. She often shines bright, especially when I may be experiencing a dark moment. While admiring the light, any darkness I was experiencing becomes a distant memory.
If you’re looking for a fun, beautifully captivating activity to do and live near Philadelphia, I strongly suggest Luminature which runs through January 5th!
“Can we go down the snow slide again, Mommy?” my daughter pleaded. A couple of weeks ago, she had a playdate with her friend from school at the Philadelphia Zoo. Even though I have a membership, somehow I didn’t know about the fun interactive winter exhibit that’s absolutely perfect during these hot summer days. We actually stumbled upon it while looking for Bear Country and to see the flamingos and couldn’t resist getting a feel of the snow in the the summer.
Even though there is an additional fee on top of general admission or a membership (which Alison, the mother of Quinn’s friend kindly covered), it was well worth it. The girls had so much fun. Actually, we all did! They excitedly went up the long and steep staircase several times trying to help carry their snow tubes to slide down “the Snow Leopard Slope, a 120-foot-long, 20-foot-high, snow-covered incline.” They made little snowballs to throw at the targets, made a couple of snow castles and slid around trying to maintain their balance as they climbed the little snow mountains. It’s good that we found the winter at the zoo area after seeing most of the animals because getting the girls to leave this area was no easy feat.
If you haven’t been to the zoo in a while, just would like to go again or want to do an outdoor activity and still keep cool, take advantage of Winter at the Philadelphia Zoo. It’s. fun for both children and adults alike. I’m tempted to take Quinn back before it ends on August 20th so that I can go down the slope a few more times too.
Since my little girl was one, we’ve taken frequent trips to the zoo. One of her favorite stops is the Big Cat Exhibit. “Can we see the tiger and lion video at the end?” is a request she would make without fail. We’ve been to the zoo twice this year since it’s gotten warmer, but a major change has occurred: a major brain shift I’ve observed. While Quinn, my soon-to-be three year old, doesn’t mind observing the tigers, lions and cheetahs in the zoo displays, she has become fearful of the video she once loved and asked to watch a few times each time we went to the zoo.
There is this one scene in particular where the tiger is attacking an antelope which never phased Quinn in the past. So I was caught off guard today when Quinn cried out, “I’m scared Mommy! I don’t want to see the video anymore! Please Mommy!” I’ve never heard such fear in her voice before. I could see that she was really terrified. When I asked her why she was scared, she said, “The tiger was not playing nice with the other animal and was hurting him.”
In this moment I wondered. What happened? What changed? Then it occurred to me; my little girl is growing up. Her brain is evolving. She’s entering the next phase of many more to come. I hope I’m able to model bravery and to help her address any fears she need to address as she continues to learn more about herself and her surroundings.
One of my daughter’s favorite outings is going to the zoo. She loves seeing the monkeys, lions, tigers, tortoises, zebras…well just about every animal at the zoo. One of our regular stops since Quinn was just a year old is to the petting area with the goats and sheep. While some children and even adults become uneasy with the goats and sheep invading their space, she welcomes them. One time, about four or five of them surrounded her, and instead of being nervous, my little girl said, “Look at all these goats, Mommy! I have to be gentle.” My little girl is at that inquisitive age of two and a half and wants to know everything about the animals, especially the big cat falls exhibits with the lions, tigers, pumas, leopards and jaguars. At first, she referred to all of them as tigers, but now, my little zoologist looks at the big cat intently and will inform me, “That one is not a tiger mommy; it’s a puma!” I love watching her fascination with animals as she becomes entranced by their movements. Though she most certainly is my little artist and doctor, I can imagine my little girl being a zoologist too!