Thursday, August 07, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #70: A Day at the Henry Vilas Zoo

In 1904, Col. William F. and Anna M. Vilas presented a large parcel of land to the Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Association "for the uses and purposes of a public park and pleasure ground." Named in memory of the Vilas' son, Henry, the first animal exhibits at the zoo opened in 1911. The only stipulation made by the Vilas family was that the park always be admission free so that all members of the community might enjoy it. The Henry Vilas Zoo remains one of a handful of no-admission, free parking (what little there is) AZA accredited zoos nationwide. Here are a few pictures from a recent family outing.

Giant baobab jungle gym--is this thing
cool or what? There are three slides at
different levels of the tree, the highest
where that tree fort is.

Harbor Seal

Youngest niece feeding the goats.

Mr. Grizzly greets his adoring fans.

Where's Nanuk? Click to enlarge if you can't see him.

Capybara, the largest living rodent in the world.
Kind of cute, for an over-sized guinea pig.

Kookaburra sits in an old gum tree
Merry, merry king of the bush is he.

Male giraffe (there are also a female and baby)

You simply cannot visit the Madison zoo without
saying hello to Bucky. It just isn't done. *wink*

Niece 7 and Niece 4 with lion statue.
(They are cousins, not sisters.)

Due to their cuteness and playful antics,
the prairie dogs were quite popular.

Blue-throated Motmot (I think).

A zebu

Links to other Thursday Thirteens:

Tempest Knight * Kaige * Adelle Laudan
Alice Audrey * Janice Seagraves * AJ O'Donovan
Paige Tyler * Jennifer Leeland * Mel
Barbara Doduk * MitchyPoo * The Gal Herself
Tink * Gwen Mitchell * Stephanie Sullivan
Hootin' Anni

(leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Tempest Knight said...

Looks like your kid had a great time. *wg*

Heather said...

Umm, Tempest? Did you read the captions? I don't have kids. Never have, never will. But yeah - my NIECES had a great time. ;)

Alice Audrey said...

The zoo has gotten a lot cooler in the years I've been gone.

Heather said...

Alice~ You probably wouldn't even recognize the zoo here any more. The old dome monkey house the UW used to opperate has been gone for years, and they've made numerous improvements over the past two decades. There is now a herpetorium, a new primate house, new big cat facility (yup, smelly old cat house is gone!), seal and penguin facilities (and they are getting a new "arctic passage" area along with the polar bears and reindeer), new prairie exhibit, new children's just keeps getting better!

The one thing I would like to see, though, is improved giraffe/zebra/camel accomodations. These three animals roamed together in a large sunken "feldt" at the Kristiansand Zoo in Norway. The enclosure was large and grassy and visitors were eye-level to the giraffes. It was VERY cool!

Paige Tyler said...

Great pics! We so love going to zoos!


My TT is at

Barbara Doduk said...

Looks like a great trip to the zoo.

Happy TT

Heather said...

Thanks Paige!

Hi Barbara~ Yes, it was a nice trip. Thanks for visiting!

Mitchypoo said...

The bear is just beautiful! Looks like a fun day! Great TT! Please come visit if you can!

Tink said...

I love zoos (if the animals have enough space and good care of course), great pics! The baobab is wonderful.
Thanks for visiting my Olympics TT!

The Gal Herself said...

I love these photos. As a doting aunt who lives near a big zoo, I can completely relate. Going every summer, noticing how both the park and the kids change, is a great ritual. When my niece (now 16!) was still in the stroller, she cracked me up because she ignored the giraffes and jungle cats but was completely fascinated by squirrels and chipmunks that she recognized from her yard at home.

Heather said...

Mitchypoo~ Thank you. The Grizzly was the only bear out that day and was really hamming it up for the crowd. The polar bears are usually just as theatrical but seemed more content to lounge inside the cave entrances than splash in their pool.

Tink~ Thanks for visiting! Making sure the animals have adequate space and conditions has resulted in an on-going "rezoovination" project. The only animals no longer present at our little zoo are the elephants, which require much bigger romaing space than they were getting here.

Gal~ LOL at your niece being fascinated with the squirrels and chipmunks when she was younger. Sounds similar to my youngest niece, who on a trip here two years ago was thrilled most by "her geese" -- at that time they had a pair frequenting their backyard. Thanks for visiting!

Gwen Mitchell said...

Looks like TONS of fun. I love Capybaras!

Like the new look too. Very nice. (It doesn't show up in google reader).

Happy TT

Heather said...

Thanks Gwen! They are kind of cute for mutant rodents, aren't they?

Glad you like the new blog look. Now if I can just figure out how to add all of my links again - it refuses to accept them when I try to cut and paste. *sigh*

Maggie Nash said...

Laugh kookaburra, laugh kookaburra... your life must be.


Heather said...

Maggie~ would pick up on that, huh? *g*

Stephanie Sullivan said...

Awwwww .... looks like everyone had a great time. Cool photos! :) Happy Thursday!

Jennifer McKenzie said...

Gorgeous pics, Heather!!!!
I'll bet my nieces have been to that Zoo. You always have the best local stuff.

Janice said...

Hi Heather,

Your nieces looked like they had a great time. I love going to the zoo with my daughter and before that with my neiphew. I kind of raised him too.

Great TT.


Heather said...

Thanks Stephanie~ Yes, it was a good time.

Jennifer~ Thank you! Yup, they probably have been there. Elementary school groups usually go there at end of the year.

Thanks Janice~ Yes, I think both girls had a great time. The smallness of our zoo is just right for the little ones!

Eaton Bennett said...

Zoo's bring back very sweet memories
from my childhood...especially the elephant ride. A zoo that charges no entry fee is a big bonus. :)