I was a guest of the North Carolina Zoo for this event. However, the fulfillment of one of my dreams is all mine.
This past weekend if you followed along with me on Instagram, you would have seen that I was given a once in a lifetime opportunity to go behind the scenes at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro. I was there with an elite group of bloggers ( 5 to be exact) to learn more about the camp programs that the Zoo offers during the summer.
We started our day in the education center, the main offices of the zoo, with a craft session. As friends of this blog, you know how much I love crafting and creating new things. Plus with the weather being cold, dreary and wet that was the perfect start to the day.
As we were making our beads from recycled magazines, bloggers and zoo staff chatted. Debbie, the PR rep for the zoo, said it was perfect that we came on such a wet day because the show must go on. The zoo is only closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas and that even if the weather was cold and rainy the zoo would be opened. As Debbie put “the show must go on.”
While making the beads, we learned about the types of camps that the zoo offers from Leslie- one of the counselors and Beth, her boss so to speak. I was really impressed with the types of camps that are offered. Did you know they even offer a camp for kids with Autism? The teacher in me appreciates that so much.
As we were rolling the magazine strips around the coffee stirrers, we learned that this would be one of the typical crafts made at the camp. Leslie did state that they try to get the kids out into the zoo as much as possible but there are activities such as crafts they like to incorporate into the camp as well.
What impressed me about the camps were they said they always have a backup plan and then another backup plan if something happens or if the kids get bored. That is what I call being prepared. And honestly, after seeing the backup plans for the elite group that attended this event, they are on point. Don’t you love it when places can be flexible?
After we made all the beads we needed for our bracelet or necklace, we set out on golf carts in search of my favorite animals, the giraffe. There is something so elegant and graceful about these beautiful creatures. Several years ago, when my girls were little we went to a zoo in Virginia where you could feed giraffes, I watched my girls feed them but no matter how much I really wanted to feed one, my anxiety took hold of me and I chickened out. So going into Friday, I was determined not to chicken out. I even had my trusty intern photographer, Gracie, with me to capture the moment.
But The Rain
But the rain changed that plan because we were going behind the scenes in the actual barn for the giraffes Jack, Turbo, and Leah we weren’t allowed to take pictures or videos. But I was able to feed Jack and look into his big brown eyes and silently ( well maybe not so silently) wish I had his eyelashes). Once I looked into those big brown eyes, I was in love. I can’t wait to go back and use one of the fun tickets that I was given to be able to experience this again and maybe this time I can get a picture.
But there is also an upside to the rain, we were able to chat with Dana and Jason- the keepers of the Giraffes. They were so full of knowledge and we really enjoyed hearing not only about their friends Jack, Turbo and Leah but also about the adventures as keepers. I honestly can say that I walked out of the giraffe barn feeling like chatting with them and learning about the adventures almost made up for not getting a selfie with Jack. (Noticed I said almost there.)
An Unexpected Interruption
After the giraffe barn, we set back out on the golf carts to eat lunch. But we had an impromptu pit stop at the gorillas as they were being fed by their keeper, Robin and she asked if we would like to stop and see the best animals at the zoo. We all said yes so we jumped out and went to see these beautiful creatures. Apollo, one of the younger ones was a total ham. I could say more but I think the pictures say it all.
But First We Eat
So after a short stop at the Gorillas, we went on to enjoy a boxed lunch consisting of a turkey sandwich, an apple, chips, and a cookie was waiting for us at the Junction Plaza. This was the best sandwich I have eaten. It was just a simple turkey sandwich with some greens, tomatoes, and onions but it was truly delicious. Gracie who is a picky eater kept saying she wanted one the day after. Joining us at lunch was Dr. Corinne Kendall, curator of conservation and research at the zoo. She was going to be showing us after lunch an activity that is used during the high school camps .
So we put on our CSI hats and solved the murders of 25 sheep. I love how this camp gets kids involved by learning how to work in small groups to solve problems but that this was also an overnight camp for kids. Campers will sleep in the Africa section of the zoo under the stars. Can you imagine going to sleep hearing elephants and lions? Makes me want to be a kid again. After we solved the mystery of the sheep, we were given a choice we could either go back and finish our jewelry or we could visit the aviary.
We opted for the Aviary. So once again we set out on the “covered” golf cart with Leslie and Beth to learn more about the birds that make the NC Zoo home. I got to see one of my favorite birds the flamingo. I even braved standing out in the rain to grab a picture with them. Inside, the aviary, our eyes were treated to the beautiful creatures there. Leslie had some bingo cards in her backpack so we were able to play Bingo for a while. ( see that is what I am saying about being flexible). Words can not express how beautiful these birds are so I am just going to show you the pictures.
After the aviary, back on the golf cart, we went to back to the education center to finish out the day. We took the beads and made them into bracelets. That finished our memorable day at the zoo.
But I must add that I really enjoyed chatting with all the employees at the zoo but since I spent almost the whole day with Beth, Leslie, Christy, and Debbie I wanted to get a special shout out to them for making us feel right at home and for being so patient with answering all of the questions that not only I but the other bloggers had as well. I can’t wait to go back to the zoo again this Spring.
Also, I want to add that when we were getting in the golf carts, we saw a cardinal and I knew it was going to be a good day.