Today was the outing whose purpose inspired this entire trip: seeing Fiona the hippo. She held a special place in Namine’s heart, being prematurely born, as Namine herself was. In the time since, Fiona has gained a younger sibling named Fritz.
The Cincinnati Zoo is quite a hilly place, and the hippo exhibit is quite far away from the entrance. We made our way through the zoo methodically, taking our time and enjoying the sights and animals on the way.
Not too far into the zoo, we saw a face-painting and henna station. Both Namine and her cousin opted for the same tattoo: “Raptor,” which consisted of dinosaur scales over their faces. (The face paint purported to be waterproof, but the day in the hot sun would prove this fallacious.)
We continued our way through the zoo, journeying through the small mammal house, seeing the big cats, the reptiles (included my mom’s favorite animal, the alligator), and more, finally making our way to the African animals.
It was in a cul-de-sac of sorts where we found Fiona, her brother Fritz, and their parents. As one might expect, it was quite crowded. Namine was content to wait patiently, and her patience was rewarded.
By this time, the zoo was going to close soon. We still had time enough for a couple rides, though. First on the girls’ list was the train, which we found was wheelchair accessible. At the front of the train, directly behind the conductor, there was a space for a wheelchair to be strapped in like on an accessible bus.
The other ride the girls wanted to go on was the carousel. Like the train, there was a ramp that extended so that Namine could get up on the platform and have her chair strapped down.
After the ride was over — and it was the very last ride of the day — the ramp’s mechanism failed. I offered to help Namine bump down backwards; the zoo employees were unsure about this, but Namine assured them that this was business as usual for us.