Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Fine and Fancy Ramble

[a sea of turtle noses in the pond around Lemur Island]

I had a lovely time with Patti Abbott at the zoo yesterday; we spoke eruditely of books, movies, cities, climate, and history, and commiserated with one another over our partner’s/spouse’s tendency to ignore our book recommendations, sometimes for years, and then, prompted by someone else’s review, read the damn thing.

We also watched a lot of animals.

The small-clawed otters, alas, weren’t out; instead their enclosure was inhabited by a couple of guys with baseball caps, a hose, and some containers of bleach, who were cleaning out the little “stream” that runs through the otter area. (At least, I’m pretty sure they were just cleaning and weren’t part of some experimental new exhibit.) And the pandas, too, had chosen to engage in one of their two activities (eating or sleeping) somewhere away from our prying eyes.

But the flamingos were out in force (more on them this coming Friday), and so was the young elephant, who was getting used to the new, much larger elephant exhibit the zoo only opened to the public yesterday. This wide grassy plain (complete with a lovely pool) has an “elephant outpost” area at which people can watch the elephants, but it also has a lot of space in which the elephants can just roam. They’re still visible, however, from the bridge that connects the Asia Trail to the birdhouse and exhibits, and it was a lot of fun to look on from above as the young elephant walked backwards through one of the connecting gates of the exhibit (just for fun, I think), then bounced over the grass, swinging his trunk with what seemed to be exuberance, and finally headed towards the elephant outpost (much to the joy of viewers there), all the while strolling with a jaunty, rolling gait—a “swagger,” as Patti described it.

[celebratory(?) trunk-swinging]

It was a great time, in spite of people like the father who urged his kids to “keep moving” rather than spend any time observing the animals, or the many parents who told their children to “look at the monkey!” when they were pointing at orangutans. So far I’ve kept my mutterings of “They’re apes” to almost sub-vocal levels, but some day…

(I also enjoyed getting to be an unofficial guide: pointing out the more cryptic animals, like the red pandas in their tree and the greater-rhea hatchling imitating a rock; and being reasonably knowledgeable about the kori bustards, identifying the male by his size and the noise he made, a deep, resonant sound halfway between a cluck and a grunt. Patti very graciously humored me in all this—but then, since she has a three-year-old grandchild who also likes to speak with authority, I think she has some experience with that.)

We have some visitors coming into town for the weekend, too, so I look forward to more opportunities to pontificate—though I’ll do my best to tone it down for the blog.

[this orangutan is tired of being called a "monkey"]

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}


pattinase (abbott) said...

I am so glad we chose the time we did to ramble. I send some friends over on Saturday afternoon and it was so crowded their experience was not at all like ours. And, of course, I had the pleasure of your company as well.

Olivia V. Ambrogio said...

Your visit *was* a propitious time; I visited the zoo today with some out-of-town friends, and while it was still fun, the crowds, especially around the gorillas and orangutans, were just enormous.

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