This week Joe and Lissie finished their second-to-last college semesters. To celebrate that accomplishment and take advantage of their two weeks of unencumbered freedom, we traveled to Omaha to visit the Henry Doorly Zoo.
Our first stop was the "Lied Jungle."
There we saw everything from water fowl to...
...several species of monkeys. I thought this pair bore a resemblance to Joe and Lissie...
...but our twins just couldn't see the resemblance!
Alexander's favorite animal in this exhibit was the colorful parrot. He clearly remembers the bird's Russian name, so I suspect our 12-year-old's interest in the colorful winged-creature began before he came to America.
I have to admit, I love the photo below. The second bird peaking out from behind the tree just begs for a caption. When Joe has recovered more fully from the drain of the last college semester, I may have to see if he can come up with something clever. Joe tends to think in "captions"!
By the time we left the jungle, we'd made all kinds of discoveries...
...this upside down character had to be the least expected and funniest! He was dangling from a light fixture we crossed under as we exited the building. Again, I think this photo just begs for a caption. It's looking like I can keep Joe intellectually stimulated during his two-week break!
Our next stop was the large cat house. There we were surprised to see a tiger stand up to it's full height on it's hind legs and stride back and forth in front of a set of windows. We soon realized that the tiger was intent on, and perhaps even coveting, a large ball being toyed with by another tiger in an enclosure across the exhibit hall.
We learned from a volunteer docent standing nearby that the "dancing" tiger was just one and a half years old.
She eventually gave up on her lust for the ball...
and settled into a contented cuddle with her mama (right).
Tigers weren't the only cats we were able to see today.
What fascinated us the most was a mammoth male lion.
His roar rattled the building, and it's rumble reached far outside his compound.
His enormous paws left no doubt as to his strength!
Getting this close up view of a lion just before Christmas, left us contemplating the stunning miracle of the babe in the manger. That frail infant was fully human and yet fully God. That babe, born in a manger smelling as badly as some of the exhibits we visited today, would transform the world!
The Bible calls Him the Lion of Judah. While a real lion's strength is awe-inspiring, it is also limited. There is no limit to the strength of the great Lion of Judah. He was strong enough to endure our sin on the cross. He is strong enough to rescue and save all who call upon Him
After we left the large cats exhibits, I caught Lissie enjoying the warm sunshine while she texted photos to Anna.
We moved from the cats to the bears.
We then entered a building dedicated to the animals of the island of Madagascar, off the southern tip of Africa.
A large enclosure featured Ring-Tailed Lemurs.
Within their habitat were two or three tubes with bright light pouring out their ends. Each of these "lamps" had a possessive lemur stationed in front of it, basking in the light or the warmth or perhaps both.
Whatever the reason for the lemur's attraction to the tubes, the combination of animal and strong light made for a good "photo op"!
Another of the Madagascar exhibits housed an animal that wasn't...well...quite so cute!
As we excited the building, Lissie and I both found ourselves attracted to this zoo train. She just finished a photography class, and I had the opportunity to learn some of the material alongside her. This train provided a great example of repeated shapes and bright colors that are often sought out by photographers.
As we made our way along the back side of the zoo on our way to the giraffe habitat, we stumbled upon a sculpture garden we'd never seen before in our many visits to this zoo.
The garden's sculptures and ponds provided both beauty...
We left Tatiana's sculptured giraffe for the real thing, housed indoors:
While I was trying to get the perfect photo of one of my favorite animals...
The kids all collapsed. They were zooed (just invented that word!) out. The one exception was Amy, who continued to be full of energy--hence her blurriness.
As we trudged up the steep hill to the zoo's exit, we caught sight of one last unusual bit of wildlife--a black squirrel.
See the squirrel's open mouth in this second photograph below? What is this squirrel trying to communicate???
Again, I think the picture just begs for one of Joe's captions! Hopefully, he will have soon caught up on his sleep and be ready to think in "captions"!
We were so blessed today. The weather was unseasonable warm. The zoo animals were active.
Most importantly, we were reminded how incredibly blessed we are to have been glued together as a family by the Lord. He is so very good, and we relished His abundant lovingkindness today!