Having the title of CEO of the Chamber is something to be proud of. Equally important to me is the title of Grandma. So you can only imagine what kind of perfect day it is when I get to be both!  Well, Monday was one of those days. 

The North Carolina Zoological Society is an active member of the Greater Durham Chamber, and John Payne, their Special Projects Officer, has been after me since the day I got here to come check out the zoo. So when my daughter and son-in-law came for a visit this week with our 2-year-old grandson, the zoo seemed like a logical choice for a day trip. 

Only 90 minutes down the road, we packed up the car, strollers with treat bags in tow and set off for a day-long adventure at the North Carolina Zoo. On the way, I sent a text to John to tell him I was finally coming. And not just me, but the whole gang.  In a matter of minutes, John sent me a return text with instructions on where to go and where he would meet us. Now mind you, I had given the man virtually no warning…maybe 60 minutes…and we would be there, all five of us. That didn’t seem to matter to John.

Greeting us at the entrance to the Africa section , he packed us into a golf cart (stroller and treat bags included) and spent the entire afternoon with us in a guided tour of all things great at the North Carolina Zoo.  And great it was! It’s one of only two state sponsored zoo’s in the country ( a prize to who can tell me who the other one is) and one of just a very few where the entire zoo is designed around the natural habitat of the animals that reside there.  This place has acres and acres of beautiful scenery and plants, not to mention the totally cool animals. 

There is tremendous care taken to ensure that the animals there are appropriate to the continent in which they originate (they have both Africa and North America) and to the natural surroundings they are able to replicate.  The medical staff are some of the best in the world and the teaching that goes on there – it’s not just the normal intro class to Animal 101, but there is a high school right on the premise in which the students spend half of their day in the zoo environment as a learning lab. Now, how awesome is that! I would have loved to have gone to a school like that, or sent my kids to one.

Of course, what’s a zoo blog without telling everyone what your favorite part was. No doubt is was the giraffes. Even though they roam in the natural habitat there, they have built a deck that extends into the area where the giraffes come up to feed. So you get to stand there and feed them tree branches and they walk right up to you and take it out of your hand. Incredible experience!  And ladies, these animals have eye lashes to die for…thick, long and beautiful. The long slimy tongues…not so much a fan of!

And oh, by the way, Jack, my grandson, loved it all too.  Thank God for John and the golf cart though. I’m not sure we would have lasted that day if we had to walk everywhere. One downside of the the large natural habitat is that it makes it a LONG walk between exhibits.  But, they do a great job of putting all the walkways in the shade along beautiful floral trails. Jack is still talking about the monkeys…they were his favorite along with the turtles.

 There was no better way to spend the day! And just when I think my role can’t get better, it does!

-Casey