Full spring now means there are green leaves all along the branches, patches of daffodils are in Reed-covered pond bloom everywhere, fields have been planted and show a bright spring green. The UPS driver is wearing shorts. Small children resist wearing shoes. The ice cream stands are not open yet but there are signs of preparations. In Northern New York State we are continually surprised when we see signs like "Opening Memorial Day," or "Closed for the Season." Occasionally we see other visitors baffled like us and we wonder why is the tourist season so short?
The little local zoo in Watertown must agree with us because it is open just about all year. Sometimes, we are told, the animals don't want to leave their warm winter quarters and stay out of sight. But today we had the perfect day to visit this friendly, excellent zoo. As far as we are concerned, they get extra credit because the zoo director's residence is right in the middle of the Resting wolf grounds, just behind the visitor center.
It's named the New York State Zoo, since it shows animals native to the area. We loved the pond, covered with reeds and bubbling with frogs and snakes, to the background music of singing frogs. Next were gray wolves, although the colors ran from white to black. Some were lying down, others paced back and forth restlessly. The black bear was taking a snooze, as were the two Canada lynx, but one of them got up and walked to a different resting place, giving us a good view of lovely tan fur, black-tipped pointed ears, and stubby tail. A mountain lion (here called a puma) was resting on a high shelf, and the otters played in their pool.
We have never seen a wolverine - in the wild or in captivity - and the New York State Zoo is one Wolverine scene of a very small handful of zoos in the U.S. that have them. This one was quite active, striding around and around his very large enclosure, climbing into a cave, getting a drink from the bubbling "spring" on top of the rocks, and generally looking beautiful with long russet brown and black fur. So now we have seen the wolverine, and would happily see one again some time.
Zoos are always child-centered attractions (we were the only adults without children) and near the exit were barnyard animals for petting - donkeys, goats, llamas, even a few free-range chickens. There were plenty of sandboxes and playground equipment, indoor exhibits of more frogs and fish, and a child-centered gift shop.
Regular readers will know that we prefer visiting uncrowded tourist attractions. The New York State Zoo on a beautiful and warm weekday afternoon was a special delight.