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Nothing brings me more satisfaction than making Conor pay expensive admission to places like a zoo. Haha. I love zoos and I really appreciate what an awesome zoo Calgary has. We really enjoyed ourselves! Extra bonus, we got special Auntie time with Conor's sister, Nicole.

While in Calgary, it was very important to me to make a stop at the Calgary Zoo. We went with our Larsen cousins (and some of their cousins!) and had a fantastic time! One highlight was seeing Panda Bears! So amazing! 

Yesterday, we headed out of town with our friends, Angela and Santi. Our first stop was a Jaguar Zoo. The only way to visit the zoo is with a guide. The first animals we saw are animals that Jaguars eats, ie raccoons, hogs, monkeys, etc. We also got to see and touch a python! Holly and Greta were thrilled about this, but Maeve absolutely would not touch it - she was afraid! We also saw a couple of black bears, tigers and a lion. And then we saw the jaguars! They put on a little show for us with raw meat around the enclosure. There was a chicken hanging from a rope and the guide pulled the rope as though the chicken were a piñata. Maeve thought the jaguar jumping was pretty funny. We had a great time!

The zoo here in Cuenca is a very worthwhile experience! We had heard and read good things, but we did not realize the treat we were in for! First things first, the zoo is on the side of a mountain and is absolutely not stroller friendly. The paths are rugged and steep. Fortunately, Maeve's favorite mode of transportation is the ergo and we didn't even bring a stroller. If I was going to this zoo with a 2-3 year old, I would want a back pack carrier for sure. The zoo is one big loop of one way paths so all of it needs to be experienced if you want to make it to the exit. A lot of families passed us! We were soaking up our first visit.

One of the first animals we saw was the Andean bears and lucky us, when we arrived at their very large enclosure, they were about to be fed. A female bear came lumbering down to the spot the keeper throws the food. He threw her some mango and papaya. Then the keep called the male bear's name to get him to come and have something to eat. And sure enough, he made an appearance. It was pretty cool! 

There were a ton of snakes and frogs and other animals native to South America. The condors were a neat thing to see and the monkeys were one of our favorites! Near the end of our visit, the rain hit pretty hard for 5-10 minutes. We somehow lucked out and were back near the covered lunch tables and managed to stay reasonably dry. But after the rain, the trails were pretty muddy and slippery. We had to be careful as we descended.

Lunch at the zoo was seco de pollo (rice, chicken and a small salad) for me and hot dogs for the girls and a sandwich for Conor. I love seco de pollo. It's so simple and so reliable and so Ecuadorian.

Once we finished at the zoo, we walked down to the highway where we thought we would be able to hail a taxi, but I guess it's illegal for taxis to stop on the highway? So that was a little tricky but eventually it all worked out. Just a part of the experience! 

One of our most favorite parts of the Amaru Bioparque Cuenca Zoologico (Cuenca Zoo) was this one pathway through a thicket of trees in which small monkeys lived. We almost walked straight through without realizing just how close we were to these adorable animals. And then we all lost our minds when we saw the teeny-tiny monkey on it's momma's back! Seriously, go watch this video Conor posted on his Instagram account. We totally wanted to tuck that baby monkey into our backpack and bring it home with us. Obviously we didn't. I think one of the amazing parts of this experience was that there was no fence separating us from the monkeys. They were right there so close! Holly and Greta both have a new found obsession for monkeys (they started playing "monkeys" before we left the zoo!) and Maeve was like, "meh, I'm cuter."

I wish every day was Saturday.

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