My parents used to take me to the Zoo when I was a kid, and I still get a thrill from seeing the bison as we walk past the waterfall, seeing the great architecture detailed with animal sculptures, and seeing peacocks stroll among us.
It's amazing to behold, right in the heart of my hometown, tigers up close and personal, an enormous garden of butterflies, towering giraffes, and a pride of lions that includes three newborn cubs.
My little nephews were terrific tour guides -- having visited the Zoo often, they knew all the key spots and the animals' names. Watching their eyes open wide with delight and hearing them ask their parents inquisitive questions about what they were watching, in the World of Birds, or in the Tiger Safari, or as the Zoo staff fed the sea lions, was the best part of the day.
Zoos have changed a lot over the years -- for a time, the very word "zoo" seemed to be politically incorrect. But the Bronx Zoo and its parent organization, the Wildlife Conservation Society, continue to do so much to protect animals and habitats around the world. Visit their Web site for more information.