Sunday, October 09, 2005

I Want To Go to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo

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Did I tell you the other day about a heatwave? Well, I spoke too soon. Yesterday was cool, today was cool...and a beautiful fall day. What to do?

Of course PROJECT SUKKAH should have been #1 on the list. But for different reasons, we had to put it on hold until next weekend. (yes, I know, we're cutting it close...but we tend to live our lives that way.) I suggested a drive to the country to an outlet mall and then to go antiquing in a nearby town...but then my husband and I imagined the mall scene--having to keep a tight rein on the children -- and the antiquing scene -- "Don't touch that. It'll break. It's AN ANTIQUE! No, it's older than I am..."

Then I suggested the zoo. I have two sets of prepaid tickets (through my work's social club that gets tickets to social/sports/entertainment venues at a reduced rate) that are good until next May and next July...and I thought that today is as good a day as any.

The children got excited with the offer, a knapsack was packed with snacks, drinks and sandwiches, cameras were loaded with batteries and off we went.

Thank G-d for reduced ticket rates; otherwise, it would have cost the 5 of us about $71 just to get through the gates, and that was on top of the $8 parking.

What is lovely at the zoo is to see the same animals at different times of the year: I've been in spring, summer, winter and fall. Who'd have thought that you could snap a photo of an African elephant with a backdrop of maple leaves turning into golds and crimsons. Or polar bears lounging on the rocks in the sun, instead of hitting the cool current of the man-made lake?

Of course the orangutans and monkeys are always fun to watch as they primp and groom themselves, scratch their tushies without shame and do their acrobatics on the built-in "jungle gyms" their habitats offer.

Today, one of the prettiest exhibits we saw were free-flying butterflies in a small-scale rainforest setting. I know they're attracted to bright colors, but for some reason they liked my black sweatshirt and settled on my chest a couple of times. The colors of these creatures were magnificent and unlike the simple monarch butterfly most of us are used to seeing. Unfortunately, my children let out shrieks and shrills OF FEAR when butterflies settled on them or came too close.

We walked for miles through the regions and continents that the zoo is divided into. Sometimes I couldn't help wondering as I looked at the animals through glass dividers: "Are we looking in at them? Or are they looking out at us? Who is really the creature on display?"

I'll leave you with this from the famous 1960's film, Dr. Doolittle. We certainly "grew accustomed" to these lyrics:


If we could talk to the animals,

just imagine it,

Chattin' to a chimp in chimpanzee,

Imagine talking to a tiger,

chatting to a cheetah,

What a neat achievement it would be!

If we could talk to the animals,

learn their languages,

We could take an animal degree,

We'd study elephant and eagle, buffalo and beagle,

Alligator, guinea pig, and flea!

We would converse in polar bear and python,

And we would curse in fluent kangaroo,

If people ask us "can you speak rhinocerous?"

We'd say "of courserous! Can't you?"

If we conferred with our furry friends, man to animal,

Think of all the things we could discuss

If we could walk with animals, talk with the animals,

Grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals,

And they could talk to us!