The Stone Zoo, in Stoneham, is small. That’s probably why we hadn’t visited it in a few years – it didn’t seem like enough bang for our buck. The last time we visited, we were still living 60 miles away, so a trip to the zoo needed to make itself seem worthwhile. I’m too conscious of my mortality to spend over 2 hours driving to have fun for only an hour and a half. I have aches and pains. My eyesight is poor. I’m not a young man anymore is what I’m trying to say. So when I spend two hours in the car I want it to see two hours worth of animals and the big hissing cockroaches don’t count.
But now that we’ve moved it’s only a 20 minute drive to the Stone Zoo and last weekend they hosted a Halloween event called Boo at the Zoo, so we decided to check it out. They had a Halloween scavenger hunt and a trick or treating path set up.
There was a costume contest, too, which we didn’t enter, but it reminds me of something…
If you’ll pardon this tangent: Off the top of my head, I can think of two things that give adults a free pass to dress up for Halloween, 1) going to college and 2) having kids. There are several problems with the “going to college” route. First, and most important, if you’re in college you apparently have to dress up in a sexy costume with bonus points if you’re actually dressed like something that isn’t actually sexy, while still making it “sexy”. That’s just too much effort for the unwashed masses of us who have enough of a challenge being sexy when we’re dressing like something that’s actually supposed to be sexy. So, sexy pizza? No. I’m not even going to provide links, but feel free to indulge in a google search.
The second problem with going to college for an excuse to dress up for Halloween is that college is too expensive to attend just for the Halloween parties, although, in all honesty, so is having kids, so maybe that’s not the best argument. Either way, the good part about using the kids as your dress-up-for-Halloween-pass is that it allows you to avoid the “sexy” costumes. And that is why my wife and I went as Voldemort and Hagrid. Neither character is easily sexified, but I’d invite you to try and imagine it anyway.
Anyway, back to the zoo.
The Halloween festivities were the impetus for getting us to the zoo, but they weren’t the main fun of the day. For some reason, I usually think of going to the zoo in the summer, but the best part of our zoo trip last weekend was being reminded that Fall is the absolute best time of the year to visit the zoo! Boo at the Zoo definitely increased the crowd size last weekend, but generally speaking, you’ll find yourself feeling like you own the place when you go to the zoo in the Fall. Think about it. Spending the day pretending to own an under-visited zoo gets cooler the more you ponder exactly what it entails. You can let your kids run around and act like animals without worrying about them getting lost in the crowd. You can stare at the monkeys being obscene without having to give someone else a turn. And here’s a fun fact: As long as it’s close enough to Halloween, you can even dress up like Michael Jackson for the full-on zoo ownership experience.
The other cool thing about visiting the zoo in the Fall is that the animals are way more active. In the summer, it seems like a lot of animals are too hot to bother with much of anything, but once the weather’s cooled off they tend to be out and about. The giraffes at Franklin Park Zoo aren’t even brought outside at all on warm summer days. Anyway, although we didn’t get to play zoo owner last weekend, we did get to see a lot more animals up close and moving around than we usually do.
That is why even though the Stone Zoo is small, it’s still worth a visit if you go at the right time. The animals they have there, while not as numerous or as famous as some, are actually pretty cool when you really get to see them. Here’s a quick list of my favorites from our visit.
The snow leopard, which before I’d seen only ever seen hiding up at the very top of his rock ledge, was right down by the fence stalking the markhor in the enclosure next door.
The gibbons really get the shaft when it comes to classification. They’re called lesser apes instead of great apes. Sure, maybe they’re not initially as awe inspiring as the gorillas, but they’re pretty amazing to watch as they swing around the enclosure. Bonus: one of the three gibbons at Stone Zoo has only one arm, but still swings around. It’s a Lifetime movie waiting to happen!
I’ll end with the arctic foxes, because they’re the most adorable creatures on earth and after seeing them, nothing else in life matters. Now we can all die happy. The appropriate mixture of death and happy is what Halloween is all about, right?