My theme this year is Places in my Heart, all about the places I've been and loved and that have mattered to me in a lasting sense.
For my regular readers, you'll see more than the usual once-a-week posts from me this month. I'm having a great time writing them, so I hope you enjoy reading them, too.
Z is for the David Traylor Zoo
I'm a long time enthusiast of zoos. I grew up near Cincinnati, Ohio, which has a large and famous zoo and I've sought out the zoos in all the places I have been and lived in over the years. Zoos are special to me for the opportunities they afford us to see live animals from around the world and learn about them, as well as for the role they play in rescuing animals and helping bring them back from endangerment and risk of extinction.
When I moved to Kansas, I found that it was a state with many small zoos rather than one grand one. Every medium sized town seemed to have one. The city I lived in was Emporia, in an area known as the Flint Hills ("hills" being a relative thing in such a flat state). I really loved Emporia for a lot of reasons: the people at the forefront, followed by local landmarks like the Granada (movie theater turned coffeehouse) in the charming downtown, Peter Pan Park, and the David Traylor Zoo.
The David Traylor Zoo is very small. You can see every inch of it in an hour or so long visit. My oldest daughter was two when we moved to Kansas and five when we left, and she and I whiled away many pleasant hours at the zoo. We'd walk there (or I'd walk, and she'd ride in her stroller) and visit our rheas, peacocks, lemurs, tamarins, and elk. Then get an ice cream on our way home, or stop by the playground (or maybe both!).
We felt like we had a personal relationship with each of the animals there. We knew their names, and talked with the zookeepers regularly about their health and histories. In some ways, I loved that zoo more than big impressive ones like Cincinnati and San Diego. I'd love to go back and see it again someday.