OK, let me just say: I love zoos and aquariums. Seriously, I once talked my then-boyfriend (now exceedingly patient husband) to drive nearly four hours to visit a drive-through animal park in Canada
, à la "Jurassic Park
." (No velociraptor sightings
since they're busy stalking Michael Buble, but I did see my fair share of monkey butts as they squatted on our windshield.)
I know there's a lot of concern about animals in captivity, and I really don't want to open that can of worms (the ultimate captive animal), but I think institutions can do zoos and aquariums and do it humanely, even for the betterment of the animal. Now that that public service announcement has been made, let's move on to the show.
I was in Tulsa this weekend for Conan O'Brien's stand-up show (yeah, you can be jealous " it was great) and some shopping (look for a Tulsa ShopGirl in the next couple of weeks). We decided to stop at the Oklahoma Aquarium
. On a Saturday. It was just the teensiest bit crowded.
But overall, it's a trip I recommend (but on, say, a Tuesday). The walk-through shark tank was very cool, as were the "touchable" displays, shallow tanks and pools full of stingrays, starfish and sea cucumbers. And don't worry if you're the only adult surrounded by 5-year-olds eagerly stroking the back of a stingray as it flaps past, just enjoy yourself.
There's also a room with beavers, otters and, for some reason, raccoons (which I seemed to be the only person excited to see, as, considering my maiden name, I think of them as part of my extended animal family). And, holy crap, the giant gars were like something out of a B horror movie ("Terror below: GARgantuan gremlins " the Quickening: Not Without my GARter").
The aquarium is set up like a long hallway with exhibits branching off to the side, which made the Saturday crowds all the more crushing (especially since many examples of the common Oklahoma land manatee were roaming the hall), but I think a visit to the Oklahoma Aquarium would be a perfect afternoon. Even if the dude in a Confederate flag tee and mullet shoved his similarly be-mulleted spawn in front of you to see the octopus.