Friday, February 17, 2017


Years ago, my husband Bob would take off for continuing education programs and leave me stranded at home with three little children.  I was always very jealous that a) he got to get away without kids, and b) he could keep learning in his field. As an English major, I guess I could also "keep learning in my field," as long as I could find time to read with those three little kids around.

Anyway, one of the places he went several times was to a tax planning seminar at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.  Until we spent a few hours in Wisconsin while on a trip to visit my sister in Minnesota in fall 2015, I had never been to Wisconsin. Well, last July, after years of not attending that seminar, Bob decided it was time to go again, and this time, I got to go along!

Bob flew to Wisconsin several days ahead of me, and I flew in shortly before his week-long seminar ended. I wandered around Madison during his final day or two of the seminar, and then we headed east to Milwaukee.
Here is the sum total of what I knew about Milwaukee: "Schlitz, the beer that made Milwaukee famous" was a popular slogan when I was a kid, and had it not been for that slogan I probably never would have heard of Milwaukee.  Oh yeah, and I had also heard of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team, which I've always related to the Schlitz slogan.

Well, Milwaukee has a few things other than their beer (which we don't drink anyway) that are worth noting. I'll start with the Milwaukee Zoo, a 200-acre spread that boasts over 3,300 mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles that comprise 377 species. It began in 1892 as a mammal and bird display in the city park, and within a few years it grew to 800 animals housed on 23 acres of land. Over the next 100 or so years, it grew and grew and GREW until it reached the size it is today. In acreage, it is twice as large as the famous (at least to us Californians) San Diego Zoo, but it has only 10% of the animals and half the number of species that the San Diego Zoo boasts of.

Fewer animals on more land--that's what we liked about this zoo.

The sleek impala looked happy on this lot:

Ever since seeing hippos in Kenya's Maasai Mara, we've had a real thing for them, and the Milwaukee Zoo had a nice display.

Nothing like a Hungry Hippo. Hmmm, sounds like a good name for a game!

What's not to love about this lumpy, plodding, smelly beast? 

Ditto for the elephants:

And the rhinos:

This is not quite the same as seeing giraffes in the wilds of Africa, but it had to do:

I was glad a large pane of unbreakable glass stood between us and this agitated fella:

We're looking forward to seeing--and maybe even riding--some two-humped Bactrian camels later this year. These guys made me start noticing the unkempt hairdos in this place. I think these two are punk camels:

No zoo is complete without wandering, egotistical peacocks:

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your feathers:

Here's lookin' at you, kid:

Here's something we haven't seen before: a moose exhibit. The Milwaukee County Zoo is one of only twelve zoos in the world that exhibit American moose. Unfortunately, they look like they just returned from a very bad hairdresser experience:

Elk are a bit more common in zoos, but still unusual. This fellow was majestic:

There were also caribou in a large pen, another rare zoo sight, but they were rather shy. Do they realize that they can't hide?

You've gotta love a zoo that quotes the British poet Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889):
What would the world be, once bereft / of wet and wilderness? Let them be left / 
O let them be left, wilderness and wet, / Long live the weeds and wilderness yet.

Canadian geese--wild, not captive:

Is this not the cutest brown bear EVER? (Apparently, many of the animals had been to the same beautician.) He reminds me of Bill Martin and Eric Carle's book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?  In this case, I don't think he sees much! 

Fortunately for this fellow, he slept through the his haircut appointment and looks better for it:

There was a grizzly bear too, but he was just anti-social:

I'm not sure what this critter is, but clearly he/she has a different groomer than the rest of the animals. That's a luxurious fur coat!

I especially liked the big red kangaroo exhibit. They can leap as far as 25 feet in a single bound, so I wonder why they don't just jump over the moat and over the fence?

That animal beautician gets around. There's definitely a popular hairstyle in town: the shag, beautifully modeled by this dall sheep:

The polar bear, as would be expected, was well-groomed and debonair:

It was feeding time over on Seal Rock--or maybe THESE are the stylists?

As far as hairdos go, however, the winners of Best Coiffed Award were the cotton-top tamarin. How long do you think it takes them to do their hair in the morning?

Second place goes to the colobus monkeys.

The mandrill monkeys (think "Rafiki" in The Lion King), aren't what I would call beautiful, but they are interesting:

Speaking of The Lion King, this zoo also has meerkats--think "Timon":

And the orangutans, well, they are definitely the poor primate cousins from the wrong side of the tracks:

Last but not least (unless you're talking looks) are the baboons. Aren't you glad you don't have to wake up to THIS face in the mirror every morning?

All in all, the Milwaukee Zoo is a great place--well organized, beautiful enclosures, lots of variety, and well-kept. If you're passing through, it's worth a stop.


  1. Don't they still have white tigers and a great train ride at this zoo?

  2. The moose exhibit is what I remember from my visit to this zoo about 25 years ago. They also had a beaver exhibit then, which they don't have now, that I really enjoyed. Fun to go to a zoo. It had been awhile.

  3. Looking forward to future pictures of you riding Bactrian Camels.