Today we had a great reason to celebrate coupled with the most unbelievably beautifully weather. Sarah turned 20 today, and we had the opportunity to visit the renowned Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha on one of the coolest days in July in years.
We allowed the birthday girl to pick the first exhibit we'd see and she choose the cat house. The first tiger we saw wanted to play peek-a-boo.
The second tiger was quite photogenic, lying regally upon the straw. The sign said she has given birth to two litters of cubs, a remarkable feat considering her left front leg is missing at the shoulder.
Next we moved on to the lion's home.
Zhenya's all-time favorite animal is the snow leopard.
I don't know whether these two are twins, but I couldn't help but think of our twins, Alison and John.
After we left the Cat House, we went to a nearby statuary area that's perfect for a photo opp. Our group seemed so small today since only eight of our children made the trip to the zoo. John is currently in Boston on business. Kirsten is in northwest Nebraska doing an internship on a ranch. Anna and Alison are both living with their husbands in faraway cities.
On our next stop, our attention was then arrested by some playful orangutans. The monkey had a burlap bag clinched in one foot. We watched as she shimmied up a tree just outside the window where we stood watching, swung upside down from one drain pipe to another at the roof line and slid down another tree. All the while she was switching his grasp on the burlap bag from foot to hand and back again.
As we stood watching, she found a wide spot in the sun where some massive tree branches came together, plopped herself down, and pulled the burlap bag over her head. She was ready for a warm and "private" morning nap!
We rested for a bit on our climb up to the desert habitat. One of the things that makes the Henry Doorley Zoo so beautiful also makes it a tiring experience ~ the many steep hills in the zoo's layout.
After seeing "Kingdoms of the Night", an exhibit of nocturnal animals and the desert habitat, we had lunch and then went on to visit the zoo's wonderful tropical jungle exhibit.
We were fascinated to watch a variety of monkeys, as well as otters, tapirs, hippos, macaws, snakes, bats and numerous species of birds.
We also realized as we made our way through the crowded exhibit that we were tired and ready to make the two-hour journey back home.
Before leaving I took one more photo of our beloved daughter who entered her twenties today.
Throughout our wanderings in the zoo today, we paid special attention to the sign near each animal to learn about its native habitat. The reason we were so interested is that many of the animals we saw today make their homes in Africa. In less that four months, Sarah will be moving to Zambia to teach preschool and kindergarten at an orphanage for a few months. (I'll share more about Sarah's plans in a post within the next week.)
After seeing so many exotic animals today whose natural habitats include Zambia, we all wonder what amazing tales Sarah will have to share with us regarding her African adventure! We're so delighted and thankful to see the little orphan girl we added to our family just after she turned seven grow up with such a big heart for serving the least of these! God abounds in lovingkindness!