A couple of weeks ago, I found a Groupon deal for the zoo in Bowmanville that had to be used by Thanksgiving. My boyfriend’s and my own work schedules were pretty insane so we had a hard time finding a day we were able to go. Starting in October, the zoo was only open on weekends so that put October out of the running. We had to pick a week day in September, so eventually we chose the 29th. Boyfriend was supposed to work a short shift in the morning but decided he would take it off. I was working until 5 am so I would be tired but was planning to get a few hours of zzzz’s before heading out.
A couple of days before the 29th, boyfriend kept asking if we could go in October instead. I kindly reminded him that weekends were not an option for us and those were the only days they were open. He didn’t persist on convincing me to change the date so I let it go, as did he. The day before the 28th, he tells me that he agreed to work a different shift than the one he had taken off. I wasn’t happy, obviously, but it was flexible so he could do it in the morning and get it out of the way before leaving.
Come the day of the 29th, I’m feeling pretty good because I managed to get off work at 3 am instead of 5 so extra sleep was coming my way! I get home, go to bed, and don’t wake up until 8 am when my little man woke up. Boyfriend wasn’t in bed, nor anywhere in the house, so I text him and find out he went to the shift he was originally scheduled for and was supposed to have taken off. I asked him what about the other shift he was supposed to do and apparently he had it taken care of.
With his job, nothing ever goes smoothly. Shit always hits the fan. That day was no different. It worked out that he did indeed have to do the other shift, which meant no zoo for us. Little man and myself were looking forward to going to the zoo and daddy didn’t keep his word. This is not unusual for our family. As a matter of fact, it happens quite often. Doesn’t make it any less disappointing though. If I hadn’t already paid for the tickets, it wouldn’t have been so bad but I felt like I wasted $35.
Boyfriend knew I was pretty mad with his poor planning skills. It was supposed to have been all taken care of weeks ago, or so he said. He said he forgot about the zoo. Again, not surprising, but as I’ve told him many times, he should talk it out with me first before agreeing to things like that. This happens often, leaving me scrambling to find last minute babysitting. And of course, it’s always my responsibility even though I have been the responsible adult and managed all the schedules in the first place. But, I fear I digress a tad.
To make it up to us, boyfriend asked his boss if he could leave work early the next day, the 30th, since he worked twice the day before when he was supposed to be off. First I was told that we could leave at 11, and then it turned into 12. His “word” is never his word. Then it took half an hour just to get out of town and we had to take a 20-minute stop on the way since little man peed his pants. Fun. Just glad I remembered to pack extra pants!
So we pull into the parking lot of the Bowmanville Zoo and it’s deserted. There are two vehicles already there. The “OPEN” sign is up next to the zoo sign. It didn’t look open. The entrance doors were locked. The gift shop entrances were locked. Having never been there before, we started wandering around looking for another entrance but there did not appear to be any other way in. I knocked on the doors, peered inside, but there was no one in sight. I pulled out my phone to double check the hours of the place. Their website said it was supposed to be open. We arrived at 2:25 pm and it said it closed at 4.
Boyfriend decided to call and talk to someone. They said they closed early because they had no visitors all day. Boyfriend accepted that and hung up. I was beyond pissed. I could not believe we had just drove 2 hours to get to this zoo that was supposed to be open and they are not. I called the lady back and told her the situation. We drove 2 hours to be there, we already paid for our tickets, their website says they don’t close until 4 and their sign says open!! I guess business and word of mouth means a lot to them because the lady decided to open up just for us.
At that point, we had been waiting in their parking lot for half an hour. It was just about 3 pm and we would only have an hour to visit the zoo. She explained that a lot of the animals were being moved so we might not see them all. I didn’t care. I didn’t want to drive all that way for nothing so I was going in whether I saw 10 animals or 2! It’s just a small zoo so I knew an hour would be fine and the lady told us it would be enough, as well. She let us in for free (although technically not really since I already paid for 3 tickets), gave us a family pass that doesn’t expire, and free feed for the animals. We appreciated it a lot because we saw that our business meant a lot to them.
So we had the whole zoo all to ourselves. I knew from online searches that the zoo was small, but I quickly realized that it was way smaller than anticipated! We didn’t even need an hour to go through the whole thing. A lot of the animals, as we were told, weren’t in their exhibits so we missed out on seeing the jaguar, serval, zebras, and a few others. Little man loved the goats. They ate our map and tried to eat his shirt. He found it pretty funny! We saw camels, baboons, a few different types of monkeys, reindeer, among others.
Luckily, the lions and tiger were out for us to see! I spent a lot of time watching them. There were 3 lions, 1 tiger and 2 lion cubs. Tigers are my favourite animal and seeing them is always a huge treat for me. To me, they are the most beautiful animals in the world and the most majestic. They have been my obsession since I was a young child. I’m a lover of all big cats so seeing lions is always a pleasure, as well. The two baby lions were simply adorable.
The best part of the day came just 15 minutes before we had to leave. We had run out of things to see and were killing time, when members of the staff asked us if we wanted to see a baby tiger. Ummm YES!!! There, right before my eyes, was an 11-week old tiger cub named Uno. Unbelievable. I expected for them to just show him to us and that would be it, but no. They let us hang out with him for a good ten minutes! I was silently cursing my phone for dying literally seconds before this all happened but pictures or not, I was the happiest girl alive. I was petting a real live tiger!! A real live tiger was biting my arm and knocking down my son! Little man found it hilarious. The cub acted just like a domesticated kitten, only much bigger! This was definitely the highlight of my life. It’s always been my lifetime goal to encounter a tiger. What a gorgeous animal, they are. He was so soft and his paws were bigger than my hands!
So after an initial sour experience, we left that zoo feeling pretty darn special. The baby tiger has not been seen by many people yet so we were very lucky they brought him out for us. Boyfriend managed to get 2 pictures on his phone before it died, so that was nice, but I will never forget that experience. How many people can say they played with a real tiger cub!? I bet not many! Thank you Bowmanville zoo for making my dream come true!
Also, thank you boyfriend for screwing everything up. As angry as it made me, our tiger experience would never have happened if things went as planned. 🙂
Lots of love,