Saturday was set up to be a day of epic proportions as we were going to Zoo Atlanta to see the baby pandas followed by our first game at SunTrust Park, new home of the Atlanta Braves. If you’ve yet to read by bio (I don’t know why you haven’t), you will learn pandas & baseball are two of my favorite things.
As it was the day before Easter, the zoo was having Easter related enrichment activities for the animals. This included eggs filled with Jell-O for the gorillas, baskets of snacks for the pandas, & balls filled with edible goodies. Our day started with Nikki’s favorite: elephants Tara & Kelly. After spending quality time watching them, snapping videos, & taking photos, we made our way around the zoo to see zebras, giraffes, meerkats, birds, gorillas, orangutans, otters, lions, tigers, bears (obligatory “oh my!” statement), a Komodo dragon, naked mole rats, & Idgie, the red panda.
As the afternoon wore on, we finally made our way to the panda area. On my first visit Zoo Atlanta to see live pandas for the first time ever, I was unbelievably excited; a kid going to Disney excited. This time I was excited, but a bit more calm. The panda section was PACKED. We had to squeeze in to get to where these lovely creatures were. We missed the pandas receive their Easter enrichment. The panda twins, Xi Lun & Ya Lun, were napping atop the play area. Mama Lun Lun was nearby, snacking on bamboo while she had some alone time. At one point, one of the cubs woke up, briefly played with a construction paper chain (I’m talking less than 30 seconds) before dosing off again. Lun Lun made her way to the hammock under where her cubs were napping like the precious angels they are & grabbed the Easter basket that appeared to be filled with hay. She began playing with it, which led to some great photo op moments.
Watch the adorableness below:
Since I’d been at that side of the panda area for several minutes, I decided to move to let others have my spot. Nikki informed me that they were bringing Yang Yang (daddy to the cubs) out into his enclosure. We watched as some of the keepers set out enrichment options for Yang Yang. He stealthily entered the enclosure & immediately began to climb up the post to inspect his Easter basket of enrichment. After rolling around one of the balls that fell from his basket, he discovered a cardboard bunny that had a treat protruding from its mouth. Yang Yang began inspecting the “bunny” for more treats and ended up getting the now open box stuck on his face. After getting a semi-selfie with Yang Yang, we set off to shop at Pandamonium. I didn’t go quite as crazy this time, but I still wound up with cool stuff to add to my collection.
Yang Yang works for his treat.
By this time, 3/4 of our group were hungry. Nikki had heartburn & knew eating would only make it worse. We walked down the steps from Pandamonium & across the outdoor dining area to The Wild Planet Café. I ordered a slice of pepperoni pizza which was really good (exceeded expectations). This restaurant has food divided into 5 categories: sustainable seafood, healthy options, local, organic, & all natural. Some of items include a black bean burger, grilled chicken sandwiches, salads, & fruit cups. Nikki considered getting a cup of Jell-O, but discovered that it contains milk.
On our way to the main gift shop, we passed various other animals. This included Sequoyah, a majestic bald eagle. When we went to our first trip to the zoo in 2015, Sequoyah had arrived there shortly before. He can’t use one of his wings ( they suspect he damaged it on a power line), so he will be a permanent resident at Zoo Atlanta.
This ended up being like longer than expected, so there will now be a part three to discuss SunTrust Park.
If you can’t make it to Zoo Atlanta anytime soon, be sure to get addicted to the Panda Cam.
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