Wednesday, July 27, 2011

We Are All Animals

One of the top outings on Kyra’s list has been a trip to the zoo.  We finally made it out today.  The kids really enjoyed seeing the animals and that should go without saying. I spent the majority of the trip comparing the zoo to the wonderful zoo we have in Toronto. There was a strange mix of enclosures that you could not really see into and others that were too easy to access which meant kiddie toes would dangle a little too close to  animals or garbage littered the enclosures. The zoo was actually built on the side of a fairly steep hill so it was a challenging walk day so I was pleasantly surprised that kids held up much longer than I had expected and without much whining.
After climbing up steep incline after incline, Gavin stopped at the top of a ramp that overlooked the Rothschild’s giraffes. The group that had been standing at the very top was leaving so he made his way up and sat. No bench, no matter. We took the opportunity to refresh ourselves and stayed for quite a while. There were about ten fairly small giraffes, six zebras, and an ostrich that held their attention for a good twenty minutes. They marvelled over their long tongues and wondered why the markings were so different on each of the giraffes.  Playful meerkats were just around the corner.
They were equally excited about the penguins and sea lions. Each had their own underwater viewing area and the kids were excited to see them swim by and be able to look at them so closely.
What struck me as strange was that there very few North American animals at the zoo. I didn’t miss them but was taken aback when people identified them anyways. I found it interesting to listen to people tell the story of when they saw a Andean bear (native only to South America) wandering the road when they visited Canada, or numerous people get excited about all the chipmunks ( actually prairie dogs) running around in front of us. Taking for granted we are fully aware of the species of bears and most of the wildlife that live in our own country Elliot and I were stunned when a group identified an animal as a beaver. Easily four times the size, and no water to speak of nearby, it looked to us to be more closely related to a ROUS from The Princess Bride. To their credit, the zoo had obviously not labelled or taken the opportunity to teach about the animals. We later found it to be a capybara native to South America.

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