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my big book of little catastrophes
I ate WHAT?
zoo trip 
20th-Nov-2005 11:05 am
puss
Friday night I didn't do our usual dinner and sci-fi night with saintmichael, since he had concert tickets that pre-empted us. Instead, he and I hung out on Saturday. It was such a nice day out (sunny and 70s. in November!) we wanted to spend our time outdoors, so we went to the zoo. Yay! I hadn't been to a zoo in years - I think my last zoo trip was nearly 10 years ago when I went to the Sydney zoo. Sheesh.

::

Easy free parking, short line to get in, and the girl gave us both the resident discount even tho Michael didn't have a SF address on his ID. We got our map and headed to the African exhibits. I had my camera in my bag, but never managed to get it out. I'm such a bad photographer - I'd usually rather look at something than take a picture of it.

Kudos to the SF zoo for taking such good care of their animals; all of them looked healthy and cared for. And the zookeepers we saw were all very friendly and happy to interact with the public.

A few memorable points: I noticed a few large animals were pacers. Pacing is a gait where the animal steps with both legs on the same side, rather than the cross-step gait that is common in dogs, cats and horses. I saw giraffes and rhinos that were both pacing. Why do I care? I don't know, maybe it's all the horse riding I've done, but it seemed interesting to me.

One of the best exhibits we found was the out-of-the way temporary home of some howler monkeys. They were stashed there while their permanent home was renovated. The temp home was a little box of a shelter attached to a big chain-link box, not too posh or interesting. But the monkeys seemed to enjoy climbing all over the fencing, and they were so close to us we got a really good look at them. Michael and I both were jealous of their amazing prehensile tails.

We barely missed the feeding of the big cats, but they were still in the cat house so we got a good view of them. Oh, so pretty! It's not fair that something that gorgeously pet-able would take my arm off if I tried to stroke its fur.

But we had good timing and got to see the raptors on display up close and personal. I didn't even know the zoo had raptors! When I was 12 or 13 my parents had a friend who was a falconer and had a red-tailed hawk and a great horned owl, so I'm pretty familiar with raptors. I fed them, and even got to hunt with the hawk a couple times (those birds are heavy for a young boy to hold up on his arm). So it was great to see some of them up close again. Their eyes are so amazing.

Interesting factoid. The petting zoo area had a chart that showed the changing ratio of farmers to non-farmers over our nation's history. In the last century we've gone from almost 80% farmers to about 2%. That really shows how dumb some of our political policies are, and how crazy it is that such a small lobby can wield such inordinate political power. On the other hand, I think it's not a good thing that so many people are insulated from the experience of nature. I grew up in a pretty rural place and had a lot of exposure to "nature" as a child. I think getting to know animals that aren't pets gives us a certain perspective on life that is missing in our society these days. Especially the not seeing animals mating part. Maybe that's why we've gotten so prudish - sex isn't a natural thing anymore, it's a distinctly unnatural thing. Oh well, enough mental rambling.

Even though we shared the empty calories of a bag of kettle corn we were hungry after our day of walking around. We ended up at Askew and ate some yummy animals, internalizing our experience in the most physical way possible.

Tigers are mean.
Tigers are fierce.
Tigers have teeth
and claws that pierce.

Tigers are great,
they can't be beat.
If I was a tiger,
that would be neat.

Tigers are nimble
and light on their toes,
my respect for tigers
continually grows.

Tigers are perfect,
the e-pit-o-me
of good looks and grace
and quiet dignity.

Tigers are great!
They're the toast of the town.
Life's always better
when a tiger's around!
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