we're zoo-ing it!

No, not right now. In a few weeks, Lord willing. If you’re new to the blog, you may not know about our Big Adventure. Gabe, the girls and I are on a mission to visit 52 Zoos in 52 Weeks, and I’m writing a book about it. We hit the Louisville Zoo on August 1 of last year, and we’ve been flying by the seats of our pants ever since. January 2nd’s trip to the Miami MetroZoo was #24 in the book(s). Hard to believe we’ve got just 28 to go! Our hometown Columbus Zoo will be #52, and we’ve got a party in the works. Mark your calendars for August 1, 2009 and join us at the zoo for a Gigantic Celebration!

Our next big trip (which will literally take an act of God to come to fruition) is tentatively planned for sometime in February. Our destination? California! We want to do the San Diego Zoo, the SDZ’s Wild Animal Park, the LA Zoo and maybe the Santa Barbara Zoo. Sooo…if you live in San Diego or LA and you’re up for some company (whom you’ve never met), let us know! We love staying with strangers (and I’m not even kidding). And if you or a loved one happen to work for an airline with flights from Ohio to the West Coast and want to hook us up, let us know that too. It will be mighty interesting to see how/when God provides. He’s done some pretty darn amazing things so far (can you say $850 worth of free admission to 6 Florida zoos/theme parks?)

Here we are at the beautiful Miami MetroZoo on a balmy January day.

These are okapis (oh-KOP-eez), relatives of the giraffe. And Kelly W.’s favorite animal!

This is my darling cousin Kelly who invited us to stay in her Homestead, FL home for 3 days.

And this is a pretty cool pic of Gabe’s favorite animal.

Check out www.52zoos.com for more of Gabe’s stunning photos, an interactive map of our itinerary, and highlights of each zoo trip. If you live in California, Texas, the East Coast,Β  Michigan, or the North Central states, check to see if we’ll be at a zoo near you in the coming months. We’d love to meet you!

So, tell me: Do you like zoos? Which one is closest to your home? How many different zoos have you been to in your lifetime? What’s your favorite one, and why? Inquiring minds want to know!

51 thoughts on “we're zoo-ing it!

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  4. Kristen

    What a fun idea! I love going to the zoo!

    This past summer we went to the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Wild Animal Park – which was amazing. Our kids love the Wild Animal Park.

    It has been a few years since I have been to the Omaha Zoo but they had an amazing underwater exhibit where you were underground and the fish/sharks would swim overhead.

    I also loved Brookfield Zoo in Chicago and Bronx Zoo.

    Have fun. I am looking forward to reading about your adventures.

  5. Kori

    The San Diego Zoo is AWESOME and the Wild Animal Park rocks also!!! I now live closest to the Indianapolis one. We get there about once a summer although we always plan on going more! I would love to go to the one in Chicago sometime also. I will definitely be checking out you book and the zoo blog!!

  6. Cydney

    I have always loved zoo trips but they have been very limited. My most recent trip was in May of 2007 when our son was 18 months old. We are due another and he would love it. Our closest zoo is Memphis but I have also been to one in Birmingham. I will have to check out your book.

  7. Deborah

    You’re coming to Chicago in April! That’s awesome. πŸ™‚ We live in Chicago and we try to visit the Lincoln Park Zoo at least a couple of times a year. It’s wonderful because it’s free. The gorillas are amazing.

    Brookfield Zoo is another good one. We’ve only been there once, but had a great time. There’s also a little community zoo in Wheaton, IL (I think! – one of the suburbs) that has a pumpkin patch in the fall, and lots of farm animals. When my son was 2, he loved watching the ducks.

  8. Chris

    What a cool idea. What a great way to spend time with the family and learn things. How are you able to do all of this? I’m sure it’s nice to go to warm places while living in cold OH. Good luck with the rest of your mission.

  9. Donita

    I’m new, but 52 Zoo Adventures is quite amazing. We love our local zoo here in Tucson. But honestly, I can’t think of another zoo that I’ve been to in the last 20 years. Maybe I need to branch out. I’ll have to add that to my list-of-things-to-do-with-the-kids.

  10. Kelli

    We live the closest to the Houston zoo and if your girls want to love on an itty bitty girl, we would love to meet you guys at the zoo!

    I have been to the Philadelphia, Norristown, San Diego, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and New Orleans zoo. I think the New Orleans zoo is my favorite and I am very curious what it is like post hurricane!

  11. Gail

    I just discovered Okapis this fall, at the St. Louis zoo. I’m reading Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible right now, and they have had a prominent mention in an early chapter. Cool.

  12. Jennifer

    We love zoos! We’re about an hour and a half from the OKC zoo and two and a half hours from the Fort Worth zoo. (This is a major bummer after being a pleasant one mile walk away from the Okinawa zoo.) Keep us posted on when you’ll be in OKC — we’d love to meet you in real life!

  13. Emily Kay

    Hey, if I’m not in the middle of having a baby when you’re here, I’d definitely love to meet up with y’all at the San Antonio Zoo! Hopefully their “Africa Wild” exhibit will be finished by then, because it’s supposed to be AMAZING!

  14. Claire

    Oh how I love a good zoo! We live in northern VA, about 20 min from DC, so the National Zoo is a short ride away and it is such fun. My husband and I recently packed a lunch and bundled up our little bundle of joy to spend the day there…. yes, hours outside with an infant in December… I know. But we had a great time! There are quite a few indoor exhibitions as well and while you have to pay to park, it’s hard to beat the free admission! The only thing it was lacking was my favorite animal of all- the polar bear…. and no penguins either. Other than that, it’s a fun stop and how could one not have a great time at a zoo?!

  15. Jamie Nygaard

    Hey….how’s the snow in C-bus. My BIL is headed your way for a big Ohio State b-ball game. I think he’s nuts for going. I was just curious to what the weather was like there.

  16. Jamie Nygaard

    We love zoo’s too! I’m sure you remember my favorite zoo….but incase you don’t ….it’s the Copenhagen Zoo.

    And I personally just love saying the word Okapi. It’s just a fun word to say. πŸ™‚

  17. Kelly

    It’s not official yet, but Jon and Allen are in the works of getting the publishers to agree to an aquarium guide, very similar to the zoo book guide. When they travel this year they’ll stop at aquariums too so they have info already. He’s super excited!

  18. Jennifer Griffin

    Noah is so excited that his favorite animal made the blog today! He loves the Okapis! We thought it was a donkey who mated with a zebra….we named it a donkbra. πŸ™‚ They have a few in Berlin OH in Amish country. Love it!

  19. Bailey

    I am so excited that you will be in Texas in March!! Please keep all of the Texans updated on your plans!! I’d love to meet you in person!! YAY!!! And March is such a perfect time to come!

  20. Joyce

    I like zoos…I love the idea of a book…please keep us posted.

    You should definitely visit the Philadelphia Zoo. I grew up in NJ and still have family there so have been many times. I think it’s the oldest zoo in the US and it’s wonderful (as is the city of Phila for a visit). I also love the Columbus zoo but haven’t been in 20 years. My oldest was born there (Columbus, not the zoo!) so I think that is why it remains a special place in my memory.

    Happy travels,

  21. Denise

    Do you like zoos? – I love zoos. Which one is closest to your home? – Columbus Zoo is closest to me! How many different zoos have you been to in your lifetime? – oh man…maybe only 5 or 6 What’s your favorite one, and why? – Cincinnati, it’s where Drew proposed to me! And you better believe we will be there Aug. 1st!

  22. Joanne @ The Simple Wife

    Well now I wish I still lived in San Diego. Put the Denver Zoo on your list, girl!

    The SD zoo is amazing…be sure to take the double decker bus tour to get a broad overview first. And I have to tell you, they have one of those sky tram things over to the polar bears. Get ready.

    I do know lots of people in SD, of course. Most of them live up in North County–Carlsbad, Encinitas area.

    And Sea World? Don’t even get me started. Toben gave me “trainer for a day” for my birthday one year. Swimming with/riding on dolphins? The BEST!

    Love you!


  23. Kelly

    I love that so many people are actually commenting that they know what an okapi is!! One of Jon and my favorite things to do at a zoo is stand at the okapi exhibit and hear the different pronunciations and descriptions of it. Our favorite was a dad that said to his kids, “look, it’s a llama!” Not quite. . .

    I obviously love zoos, but before meeting Jon I had only been to two total. Now I think I’m up to 15 different ones. Hopefully that number will go up when Jon starts travelling again for his new book and I go with him.

    My favorites are Brookfield in Chicago, Columbus Zoo, and San Diego (of course all of them have okapi).

  24. Rachel

    We are a big time zoo family. As members of the Little Rock Zoo, we take a zoo trip at least twice a month, and my oldest knows where pretty much everything is at the ripe old age of 2.

    How many have I been to? Probably at least 25. As a kid we went to the Memphis, St. Louis, Dallas, Ft. Worth, and Houston zoos whenever we were in town (I think we were getting all out of our zoo membership that we could πŸ™‚ ) On a mission trip, we stopped by the San Diego zoo, and I LOVED it. You guys will have a great time! My hubby and i spent some time at the DC zoo on our honeymoon, and acutally went back to see the pandas since we missed them on the first visit.

    We’ll have to try to take a road trip and meet you guys at the zoo when travel down south!

  25. Megan@SortaCrunchy

    Oh, Marla! You are SO a girl after my own heart. I love zoos – but only the ones where the animals have a bit of nature to live in. The all cage and concrete zoos just make me sad.

    Having said that, you guys MUST plan on visiting the Fort Worth Zoo. It is LOVELY. Very conservation and diversity oriented. I haven’t been to a ton of zoos, but it is by far my favorite. Just don’t go in the heat of the summer/early fall, or you won’t see any animals. They are too smart to come out in the Texas summer heat. If you do make it to the FW zoo, I will totally road trip my merry self down to TX to make a day of it with y’all!

    Oh, and the okapi has been my favorite animal since Kindergarten when my teacher used the Okapi to teach us the letter “O.” They are so rare and unique! Glory to God for His amazing creation!

  26. Missy

    I don’t remember ever seeing Okapis before! God’s creation is so amazing!!

    August 1st sounds so exciting….when I read that just now, I kind started daydreaming about it. When will more details come? How will you celebrate? If we can be there, I could bake a “We Finished All 52 Zoos!” cake. Fun, fun!

    I love zoos. I also love aquariums! The nearest one to me is Columbus, OH. πŸ™‚ My favorite is the Cape May, NJ zoo. I don’t know how many I’ve been to. And I don’t think I’m near any zoo you need to go to, but my house is always open!

  27. jenn

    bummer – i missed you guys at the indy zoo! that’s my hometown zoo. πŸ™‚
    sounds like lots of fun and very expensive. how in the world are you paying for gas and food and such on your trips?

  28. Tonia

    Are you coming back to a zoo in MI? Please if so let me know. We went to the San Diego Zoo a few times when we lived in CA when we were first married. I loved it then but that was 30 years ago. Can’t wait to see pictures from it now.

  29. Sherry jones

    We live in Randolph County in NC – home of the North Carolina Zoo. Hope you come this way sometime.
    Blessings to you – just read your Blue Monday post as well – Thanks for sharing. sherry

  30. Amber

    I love zoos. I think. I haven’t actually been to one in probably 12 years, but I’m pretty sure I like them. I need to have some kids or borrow some or just grab a friend and go one day! The nearest decent zoo is the River Banks Zoo (Columbia, SC); however, I’ve never been. The closest zoo to me is the Holly Wild Zoo, but I’m pretty positive that it’s not one you’re gonna want to include in the book! LOL

    I’ve also been to the Jacksonville Zoo. I lived in Jacksonville until I was 7, so I went there a lot! I’ve also been to one in Chattanooga, but I don’t remember it. Oh, AND I just remembered that I’ve been to The Northwest Zoo (in Gulf Breeze, FL). I’d probably have to say that the Jacksonville Zoo was my favorite because I *think* it was big and I was little, so of course it was the best.

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