It was barely even summer when we first told Isobel that there was a zoo in the area that had butterflies who were not shy, who would land on you and tickle your arms with their tiny stick-feet. The place I’m talking about it Marine World, or at least, it used to be, but now it’s known as Discovery Kingdom, and is a hybrid amusement and animal park. My fantastic inlaws kicked off this summer of day trips by taking us to the park “where the butterflies are not shy,” as Isobel requested. They enjoy a teacher’s schedule and have the summers free for vacation, and since we might have to move and leave them, we’ve been making the most of it.
We took this trip in the beginning of June at the start of the heatwave and before we purchased the air conditioners. We were happy to find the weather cold and overcast and really just perfect for exploration. Several high schools unloaded from lines of buses when we entered the park but we hardly saw any of them all day. They stuck close to the rides while we went for the animals. It was a perfect arrangement.
We headed for the butterfly enclosure right away. Isobel was so excited to meet a tame butterfly as all her attempts at making friends with the butterflies in our garden ended poorly. She wore her brightest, most colorful dress in the hopes of luring them in. Once there she stood very still, arms out wide, waiting for a butterfly to land on her. They floated around everywhere but as soon as one looked like it might want to land on her she became nervous and pulled back. What we had were butterflies who where not shy of people, but what we needed was an Isobel who was not shy of the butterflies.
Eventually I got one to land on my finger and we attempted it transfer it to hers, and she tried, she did, but ultimately decided that it wasn’t for her. The butterfly enclosure was still her most favorite part of the trip and she loved being able to examine them up close while they hung out on a flower or glided lazily past her face. We did discover a blue Morpho butterfly who was really quite tolerant of people and he became a mini-celebrity. Blue was featured on an episode of Diego, after all.
After we left the butterfly enclosure we took in the tiger show. The cats were rewarded for their tricks with milk from a bottle to Isobel’s sheer delight. Never mind the fact that the magnificent beasts could swim and dive underwater, they were drinking a pacha! Just like baby Squirrelly! It’s a miracle! When we left the tiger area the family headed towards the dolphins while I lingered behind. I saw a shop selling at set of tiger ears and a tail that I had to check out. Isobel has been asking to be a tiger for Halloween for months, and while she might not want to be one by the time fall rolls around, she could at least pretend to be one now while she has the enthusiasm. I bought a set for five bucks (five bucks!) and met up with everyone in the stands. Isobel squealed and could hardly wait for Anthony to open the package and put them on her.
Isobel loved the shows and was especially excited to see the seals, which Anthony and I found pretty amusing because she never showed a seal preference before. But she was determined to see them and after the show was over Grandpa paid for a little basket of fish for her to throw at the eager sea lions. I wasn’t at all sure she’d actually touch the fish to toss them in but she did it with gusto. The sea lion and otter show was easily her favorite as it had a pirate theme and at one point a rouge wild sea gull swooped in to steal fish from the reward bucket.
We rode a few rides in the kiddie area and visited almost all the shows before cooling off in the park’s splash pad. We saw walruses lazily drift by in their viewing tank and rode the shark experience tunnel three or four times. We thought Isobel was developing a new love for sharks before realizing she was just mesmerized by the moving floor. Which makes sense because all she wants to do at the mall is ride the escalator over and over.
At the end of the day we headed out just as the park was closing when my mother-in-law ran into a shop for one last thing. She came out with a silky pink adult-sized Superman cape for Isobel’s dress up chest. We put it on her and decided she was Super Tiger and she answered to that all the way home. Well, at least until she fell asleep.