When I first moved to Baltimore, T and I were doing the long distance thing between here and his New England hometown. It was, as you can imagine, not a lot of fun – but there was one tiny bit of silver in that cloud. (Well, besides having the whole bed to myself.) Every time he came to visit, I would try to plan something fun or interesting, either an outing or a special meal or something with friends, in an attempt to lure him to the south.

The first Thanksgiving I was here, I had two coupon deals for admission to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, which we visited on an unusually warm day. Overall we had a nice visit, but we were a little sad at the penguin habitat. The birds seemed listless, the water was sort of mucky, and it was overall a little bit depressing. We didn’t hang out in that area very long, and it was an image that really stuck with us.

Penguins in an unnatural habitat (more so than normal)
Penguins in an unnatural habitat (more so)

About a year and a half ago, we heard that the Zoo was planning a major renovation of their penguin exhibit, and we were so happy and so curious how it would turn out. I don’t recall how we initially found out about it, but the Zoo offered the opportunity to “sponsor” a penguin; in exchange for a donation, you would get a little stuffed penguin, a certificate, and two tickets to a behind-the-scenes unveiling of the new exhibit. We were so excited and interested we did something very uncharacteristic and parted with money! We got our penguin in the mail last November (I named him Pickles, but talk about a face only a mother could love) and we eagerly awaited the event.

Our penguin parent package
Our penguin parent package

And last week it finally came! Alas, T had to work late, because of course. I luckily persuaded a friend to come out with me, and we had a lovely evening. The Zoo was full of hyper kids and really excited people, and the exhibit looked great! Much more spacious, lots of water and little coves for the penguins to hide in, company in the form of cormorants, and a new spot right near the entrance of the zoo. T and I are already making plans to go back so he can check it out for himself.

Look at all that space!
Look at all that space!

It was a really fun outing, and reminded me a lot of behind-the-scenes nights we used to do at museums when I was a kid. There’s just something extra-neat about feeling like you’re “in the know” and it was great to have this event to look forward to for so long. I even got myself a little gift to celebrate the occasion.

Cookie's not sold on the penguin slippers
Cookie’s not sold on the penguin slippers