On Valentine’s Day, Andy had me thoroughly convinced that he didn’t believe in the holiday. I was fine with that, but suggested we could still perhaps go to dinner. He agreed and said he knew a place in Newtown that we could try, but he’d surprise me with the exact place. On Sunday evening, we got ready and took the bus to Newtown. As we began to walk in the direction of the zoo, I started to wonder where all the restaurants were. Lucky for him, I needed a bathroom break, so he suggested we stop by the zoo visitor center. When I came out, he had tickets in his hand and told me he had planned a night at the zoo. Needless to say, I was completely surprised and very impressed.
Wellington Zoo does a special Valentine’s night that comes with a dinner picnic, wine, live music and extended hours to visit all the animals. I can’t think of something more perfect for Valentine’s day, since three of my favorite things on earth are animals, food and wine. Andy really knocked this one out of the park.
We passed a few animal enclosures on our way to pick up our meal hamper. One of my favorite shots of the whole evening is this one of a squirrel monkey.
They were very cute and loved interacting with people. I wonder how Higgs would react if we had one as a pet. Hmmm.
We passed some colorful buildings as we neared the area where the band was setting up.
At that point, we encountered some animals that were a tad bit less exotic than the others, especially in New Zealand where they far outnumber people.
After picking up our wonderful meal and pinot noir, we chose a comfy hay bale to sit on
It was hard to wait to dig in, but we had to document this epic night at the zoo first. How many times do you get to do something like this?
The picnic was a sampling platter of all sorts of delicious fare, and I loved every bit of it.
The band began to play covers of some great hits, and we enjoyed the lovely warm summer evening.
The wine didn’t hurt, either.
After our fantastic meal and drinks, we wandered off to visit all the animals. This was my first trip to the Wellington Zoo, so I was really excited to check it out. Andy knows me well and had suggested I bring my camera because “we might want to take a walk after dinner.” Good call!
We walked through a darkened building and saw a kiwi with one leg, which was really neat. It makes me happy when I know some of the animals in the zoo are there since they wouldn’t survive in the wild and have now been given a chance at a better life.
Up next, the sun bear. He came very close to us, which was amazing.
I even got a picture with him… well, his creepy dead-eyed twin.
The giraffes were enjoying the late afternoon sun, too.
One even came in for a closeup.
The serval was gorgeous and also decided to pose for us.
And here’s Andy as a serval. Sorry, Andy, but his picture is just too good not to share.
There were even kangaroos loose and lounging along the walkways.
Who couldn’t love a meerkat?
The chimpanzees definitely have the best view in the zoo, with free reign to look out on the hills of Wellington. I wonder what they think of our weird human city.
The lion doesn’t have a bad view of the hills, either. Imagine having one of those houses and being able to see a lion out of your living room window.
The cheetahs seemed a bit restless, pacing around their enclosure, perhaps wondering why all these humans were still about so late in the evening. I can’t get over how beautiful these agile, powerful cats are up close.
I wasn’t expecting to see a dragon at the zoo…
This next picture is one of my favorites of Andy.
We stopped by the lemur cage next, and one of them yelled at me from up high. Hey there, lemur! They were too fast to get any great pictures, but I was happy just to watch them. They were always my favorite when I was younger, and I called them “rinks” for some reason.
The zoo put on different talks throughout the evening, so we went to the one at the baboon enclosure. The keeper giving the talk also fed them, so it was a great chance to get some photos.
This guy was especially inquisitive, and I love how he came up to the glass. I really would love to know what he was thinking.
Next, we decided to see if we could catch a sight of the red pandas.
Everyone was so busy watching one red panda climb up a tree that we missed the other one walking right into his mini house. At least his tail made an appearance.
I even caught the ever elusive Andrew Pearson on camera, hiding in the bushes.
We decided to call it a night around 8:00, but not before we got a couple shots with some of the zoo’s larger inhabitants.
I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend Valentine’s Day, or any day for that matter.