With wide smiles and skin slightly pinkened by the afternoon sun, my friends and I climbed back into Nora’s red Toyota Corolla for the ride home, happy and content. As we began the journey back toward Searcy (after a quick stop for caffeine), we all recounted our favorite moments of the afternoon.
“I’m actually really surprised,” Nora said. “I wasn’t expecting it to be so nice.”
I had been thinking the same thing.
Last Friday, some friends and I made a quick trip to the Little Rock Zoo for the afternoon. The inspiration for the journey had struck just a few days previously when two of us had visited the Georgia Aquarium. As we practically ran from exhibit to exhibit with childlike glee, we both realized neither of us had ever visited the zoo less than an hour from campus. It was there, in the middle of an aquarium, that we made plans to visit a zoo two days later.
In the few days leading up to Friday, I mentioned my plans to several people. The conversations all went the same way — after finding out we were going to the Little Rock Zoo rather than the Memphis Zoo, they would shrug and say something to the effect of, “Oh, it’s OK.” Other descriptors used were “small,” “fine” and “kind of underwhelming.”
Clearly, the Little Rock Zoo had a lot to live up to for our first visit.
We had pretty low expectations going into Friday. We knew it would be fun simply because of our company, but we didn’t plan on the zoo being anything too great. Thankfully, we were wrong.
The Little Rock Zoo deserves much more appreciation than it is given. The animals’ enclosures and habitats are fairly large and well-maintained. We saw almost all of the staple zoo animals — lions, tigers and bears, oh my — and we spent well over two hours making our way around to all the areas. As if that’s not enough, there is currently a gorilla infant increasing the zoo’s overall percentage of cuteness by approximately 87 percent, and the funnel cakes are reasonably priced and unreasonably delicious.
What’s not to love?
Before visiting the Little Rock Zoo, I had developed an opinion of it based solely on what I had heard from others. I had already determined that it would be run-down and disappointing. That’s the vibe I had gotten from others, so why wouldn’t it be true?
Forming an opinion on something before having any real knowledge of the matter is unfair. If for some reason we had been unable to go to the zoo last Friday, I would have remained unnecessarily convinced that the Little Rock Zoo was subpar. Judgments should only be made after personal experience and research.
It may seem cliché, but the old adage is valid. Don’t judge a book by its cover, and definitely don’t judge a zoo by its reputation.