Nature Challenge: Fort Worth Zoo

One of the missions for this year's Texas Nature Challenge is at the Fort Worth Zoo. We were taking a family trip there anyway so we printed off the mission and completed the challenge while we were there.

Please note, if you are participating in the Texas Nature Challenge in North Texas then you may see some clues or even answers to completing this mission. I made sure to not include answers to all of the challenge questions but please don't read this unless you don't mind spoiling some of the challenge!

The Fort Worth Zoo is quite impressive and you could easily spend all day here if you'd like. Take a look at how much is on this map of the property.

We took hundreds of pictures at the zoo. I'm afraid I'm not very good at picking just a few favorites so you'll see tons of pictures of animals and the kiddos here. Stuart took most of the beautiful animal pictures. I probably took more of the beautiful children pictures.

We spent a lot of time with the monkeys...perhaps because my two little monkeys could relate so well to them.

A big, beautiful Silverback Gorilla.

Rachel hasn't been to the zoo since last year. When we went last year, she spent a lot of time in her stroller and didn't really see a lot of the animals. This was really her first time to engage with animals at a zoo. She was amazed for most of the time.

Nicholas really liked this orangutan. He was worried about the monkey because he looked sad as he was lying down by the window. Nicholas put his head down to in order to mimic him and tried to say comforting words to him through the glass.

This little guy was much more energetic.

He enjoyed doing tricks and acting kind of silly up on his climbing structure.

This a a great picture of a baboon but I really don't like these monkeys. I think I must have seen them in a scary movie or something because I just always feel like they are angry and about to attack me (although these were quite calm and didn't try to attack me once!)

Ahhh! Away from the monkeys and on to the elephants.

These guys were right up next to the fence so it was a great way for the kids to see them up close.

I love this picture because we have one just like it with Stuart holding Nicholas when he was about Rachel's age. I tried to find it but we transferred our older pictures to a Blu-Ray disc and then our Blu-Ray player died so we can't access it. (I hope Santa Claus reads blogs)

Nicholas worked on his nature challenge by finding answers to a question about how many miles away you can hear an elephant's trumpet.

The kids always like to say hi to the little bronze statue of Bonnie, a baby elephant.

We got a great view of a sleek and limber giraffe having an afternoon snack. They are so slow and purposeful in their movements that it was almost hypnotizing to watch him.

There were two big hippos taking a dip in their pond. It was hard for Nicholas to see over the wall into the water so I held him up. I dare say he's getting a bit too big for me to hold him for very long but I did enjoy the few minutes while they lasted. Someday soon he will be too big for me to do that at all.

The kids wanted to see the rhino but all they could see was his big giant butt!

Finally he got up and just started licking a metal pole in his habitat. You can see that he was licked away any of the coating that was once on it. I can't imagine why this would be tasty and I wonder if it is some weird natural instinct to cure an iron deficiency??

We love the albino tiger but he wasn't very active today. He just wanted to lounge around yawning and bathing himself. Even so, he was still quite impressive looking...but then again we are Tiger fans!

But one of the highlights of our visit was the show put on by the lions. There was a male and female who were growling back and forth to each other for several minutes. They are incredible loud and intimidating when they get going like this.

But soon they quieted down and relaxed. They are still quite intimidating even when they are relaxed. Check out the teeth on this big guy as he yawns.

He is so beautiful and majestic.

We loved watching him go over to his lady lion and give her a wet kiss on the cheek. Aww, he's got a tender side.

Stuart captured this beautiful picture of the two of them together. I really like this one.

Then the couple decided that the show was over and they took a break to just watch us for a while. You've got to wonder what animals think of all the people walking by staring at them each day.

Nicholas worked on his nature challenge and found the maximum length in feet that a lion's body may grow.

Mama and her baby girl.

Rachel was so happy at the zoo. Lots of fun animals to see and everything was so exciting for her.

Of course, she had to act a little silly too. She was great at making funny animal sounds.

My favorite part of the Fort Worth Zoo is the aviary where birds will land on your food stick and practically eat right out of your hand. Nicholas grumbled a little at first because he's done it so many times already.

As soon as he walked in, he had two birds land on his stick!

I don't know about you but this boy doesn't look bored to me.

Rachel was a little nervous at first. I was afraid that she would throw down her stick when a bird landed on it but she did fine and seemed to really enjoy it.

But she soon relaxed and had a great time. She has never seen birds up so close.

You can tell she was really enjoying it because she started talking to the birds in a sweet little voice.

These birds are so amazingly friendly. Can you imagine how many little kids are invading their home every day yet they just come up, eat their food, and go.

And there are so many of them that you could easily get two or three come feed from you at one time.

Here, Birdie Birdie!

Next along our path we found a beautiful sight....a baby eagle in its nest. So sweet.

Everywhere we turned there was something new and exciting to see. The kids were having a great time.

Rachel talked to this bronze statue of a joey. It's so cute to listen to her when she's talking like a mommy to a baby. She has such a quiet sweet voice!

Stuart tried to get a posed picture of the kids in front of a waterfall. But as you can see, Rachel just kept leaning away from Nicholas. Ah, sibling love.

Next we headed into the Great Barrier Reef exhibit. Rachel loved watching all of the colorful fish swim around.

Of course, our daredevil child loved the sharks. He's all boy!

Rachel found a picture of a fish on the wall and pointed to it as she said, "Look at him. He looks funny." Oh wait! Hey Nicholas, Rachel just found the Zebra Moray that you were looking for to fill in your nature challenge for this exhibit! Thanks Rachel :)

We ventured into the Australian Outback where we were all excited to see the cute kangaroos.

Rachel imitated one and said, "Look, Mommy! He does this" and she flopped on the ground just like the kangaroo.

Nicholas learned about the distance of a kangaroo's vertical leap and filled in the answer on his nature challenge form.

We moved on to more indoor exhibits where we saw penguins lined up at the window as if wanting to chat with us.

And we got to watch them through the glass as they swam under the water.

We visited the Pineywoods Swamp exhibit where Nicholas learned about the number of hours and alligator can stay submerged underwater for his nature challenge.

Rachel was getting really tired by now so we took turns holding her...which just makes us get tired that much more quickly.

Nicholas got to touch a live horseshoe crab! He thought that was really cool!

Nicholas compared his arm length to various birds' wing spans.

Of course, Rachel said, "My turn!" so Daddy had to carry her over to try it out too.

Finally, we headed to the Terminix Insect City to wrap up our Nature Challenge.

Once Nicholas had completed all of the challenges for the mission, he compiled the numerical answers from all the questions which then formed the combination for the lock at the final Nature Challenge box.

Yes, I've been told that I take too many pictures. So why not take a picture of the concrete just to keep up with my reputation. Actually I thought this was neat because we were just walking along when suddenly Rachel stopped and excitedly pointed out, "These are not the same! These are not the same!". She noticed the ever-so-slight difference in color and texture of the two different pieces of concrete. I guess it's easier for her to notice these things since she is so much closer to the ground!

There is just nothing like taking kids to the zoo. Yes, it can be exhausting to spend all day walking around a concrete path while chasing kids in the hot sun and looking at some stinky animals. But the joy and wonder on the kids' faces make it so worth it.

The Fort Worth Zoo is open 365 days a year! It is located at 1989 Colonial Parkway
in Fort Worth. To reach the Fort Worth Zoo from Interstate 30, exit University Drive. Go south on University for approximately one mile to Colonial Parkway and turn left. Once you are on Colonial Parkway, follow the signs to the Zoo. Ticket prices are: Adults (13+) $12.00, Children (3-12) $9.00, Toddlers (2 & under) Free (yay!), and Seniors (65+)$9.00. Wednesdays are half-price admission days! For more information, please call 817-759-7555 or visit the Fort Worth Zoo website.

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