This year marks our twentieth anniversary. We decided to celebrate as a family by spending a day in early May at the Minnesota Zoo and then have some fun at the Mall of America.
We got to the zoo right when it opened, and since we had been driving for quite a while, the kids explored the outdoor playground while no one else was around. Here's Anna in a giant nest:

Anna in a nest

Corbin went into some sort of giant wasp nest that could spin around. Of course his brothers enjoyed spinning it rapidly until they finally heeded his cries for mercy. Here he is so dizzy he is having trouble getting out again.

Corbin in the wasp spinner

Nora found something to climb:

Nora on a giant mosquito

Nora wished she could climb into the exhibit with this friend of hers:

Nora and a leopard

We all enjoyed watching the prairie dogs and thier silly antics:

buffalo and prairie dogs

The native wildlife seemed to be competing for attention. We saw a wild turkey (wandering through the food court!) , Canada geese, mallards, and turtles! Here is Caleb with the first turtle we found on the path:

Caleb holding a turtle

After removing a leech(!) attached to its shell, we let it go on its merry way.
Rosa loves Wednesdays because she loves proudly proclaiming it's "Hump Day! Oh yeah!" So we had to get a photo of her with the camels.

Rosa with camels

Soon after that we discovered another turtle on the way to the farm area. Nora proudly scooped up this one:

Nora with a turtle

I was amused by the signs on the way, and had Corbin pose next to one:

Corbin with a silly sign

My next victim was Anna, with this goofy sign:

Anna with a sign

Anna's current favorite thing of all time is rabbits. Guess what she found in the farm area?

Anna with a rabbit

She just had to feed them:

Anna giving a rabbit some hay

Here's the girls as chickens:

the girls pose in a cut-out

Ella was quite serious about it. "Take my picture!"

Ella in a chicken cut-out

Corbin found something more his style, but he had to fend his sisters off!

Corbin on a tractor

As we were wandering to a good picnic area for lunch we found a funny (and invisible) ATM. Alex filled in for the missing machine:

Alex as an ATM

We decided to eat in the outdoor bird show seats. Caleb was especially bummed out that there was no bird show that day because they were done with the winter indoor shows, and hadn't yet started up the outdoor shows. But right when we sat down, some zookeepers came out and said they were going to be training some of the birds for a while, and we were welcome to watch! So we had our own personal bird show!
To top it off, a nearby log hosted an audience of more turtles:

turtles on a log

I tried to get a nice picture of the girls, but Ella had other ideas.

the girls posing and Ella covering her mouth

Oh well, they are still cute!

the girls again with Ella covering her eyes

Here is one of many nesting geese we spied:

a goose on a nest

Back inside on the tropics trial, Corbin found his old favorite: the 'gator:

Corbin with a alligator

Anna still keenly remembers the traumatic experience of the otters eating her glasses, so this visit she came prepared. She had her glasses secured onto her with a sports wrap. Here she is conquering her fears!

Anna leaning into the otter cage

Ella was thoroughly amazed by the giant coral reef aquarium.

We all loved finding the many free-flying birds along the trail

a colorful bird

As we were wandering around, a very loud noise, almost like the beginning note of a car alarm going off, occasionally bellowed. We were surprised to see the source hiding in some vegetation:

a Malay Great Argus

Here is what the Zoo's webpage says about the bird:
"The Malay Great Argus is a timid and reclusive bird, and make high high pitched single syllable call that sounds like 'WOW' that can be heard long distances in the thick jungle."

Here are some quieter birds we spotted walking on an overhead brach:

some birds crossing overhead

They must have found something tasty in a hole along the branch:

the birds again

The poison dart frogs were cool to see.

poison dart frogs

On the Minnesota trail Lee was happy to see a wolf.

a wolf

Here's the girls hamming it up on a tamer wolf:

the girls on a wolf statue

and Corbin's turn:

Corbin on the wolf statue

Our tour of the zoo complete, we headed to the mall. The girls went to a Build-a-Bear store for the first time. Here's Nora, Rosa, and Anna with their soon-to-be-stuffed friends:

the girls with their new bears

And giving them baths:

The girls bathing their new toys

Meanwhile, the boys were at Nickelodeon Universe. Lee surprised Caleb with a giant Angry Bird:

Caleb getting his present

Here is Corbin's favorite ride there:

the sponge bob coaster

Corbin on another roller coaster:

Corbin zooming by

Corbin on the power tower:

Corbin on the ride

Caleb didn't like the Sponge Bob Coaster so much. His face looked a lot like Sponge Bobs:

Caleb pointing to Sponge Bob

Here are some of the photos from the ride's cameras: Corbin on the Orange Steak roller coaster:

Corbin on the roller coaster

Alex and Caleb on the same coaster:

Alex and Caleb on the coaster

and Alex and Corbin on the Sponge Bob coaster:

I am not sure what impresses me more: the fact you can see Corbin's tonsils, or how the boys know exactly where the camera is and when it will take their picture while flying by at 30 plus miles an hour!
Caleb did enjoy the Teenage Ninja Turtle Ride. He likes flying like bird. Here he is ready for take-off:

Caleb on the ride

And there he goes!

Caleb on the ride

Here's all three boys zooming by on another coaster:

the boys zooming by

We all went to the Lego store. The girls found a giant Lego Friend that looked a bit like Rosa:

the girls with the Lego Friend

Before we left for home, we had some ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery. Ella was so tired she could hardly keep her eyes open to eat!

tired Ella with her ice cream

We all had a great day, with many happy memories. We will end with Corbin with his mall treat:

Corbin with a big thing of Peeps

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