We were aiming to be there by 10:30 so that I could see the elephants being washed, and we arrived by 10. Not a bad job avoiding rush hours. But they had temporarily closed the elephant house so there was no elephant washing for me. I was mildly disappointed, but we saw so many other wonderful things, I forgot the stinky elephants. When we finally got round to the panda, most of the school groups had left (phew!) so it was a little quieter. Pandas spend about 16 hours a day eating, and this one spent most of our time with him lounging in a corner chomping on bamboo. What is it with girls of a certain age? They all want to adopt cute animals--from the fisher cat to the panda; all we kept hearing was "I want one" in cutesy-girl teenage voices. Then the adorable panda did a big poo. The girl decided she didn't need a panda anymore. (Quelle surprise!) The dude was off to the side of the crowd, and the panda strolled over to where he was and started rolling around. So cute! I almost wanted a panda. But the best part was it was like he was performing just for the dude. Then everyone ran over to the side where the panda was, so we decided it was enough panda. We also saw golden lion tamarins, golden-headed lion tamarins, black and rufous giant elephant-shrews, prehensile-tailed porcupines (who knew?), naked mole rats, Madagascar tenrecs, meerkats, black-tailed prairie dogs, gibbons, orangutans, a sloth (in a box), mongooses, lemurs, pale-faced saki, Prevost’s squirrels, a rock hyrax, Asian elephants, cheetahs, zebras, an emu, Mexican wolves, Prezwalski’s horses, a hippo (just the nose, ears, and eyes), lions, a caracal, a giant anteater, poison frogs, many birds from the Amazon, jelly fish, cuttle fish, nautilus, spiders, giant octopus, corals, sea anemones, starfish, butterflies, leaf-cutter ants, beatles, a fishing cat, river otters, Mexican wolves, eagles, a sloth bear, a komodo dragon, a red panda, a tiger, sea lions (not seals), turtles, lemurs, a beaver, and a collared peccary. And deer, but I think these were more of a "suburban nuisance" than an exhibit.
Of course, there's nothing like watching the people. It was shocking the number of signs people didn't read. They would charge up to the gorillas, knock on the window, stare at them and wonder why the animals didn't come over to them. (The sign explained how to "make friends with" large primates; none of those actions were on the list.) One group of kids was making up what a komodo dragon (or as one group of teen girls called it "the kimono dragon") was; neither of their chaperones made it over to the sign so they could tell the kids--clearly curious--about the animals. I showed the kids the sign, but they couldn't read it. (I'm terrible at judging children's ages and how old they should be to read.) I think teachers should have exercises for the students to do while they are there. Then it's not all just running around like they are part of the exhibit. (And what about the signs telling everyone what a bad idea it is to stand on the railing? And the kids lounging all over the railings. Oh how we would cry and gnash our teeth and rend our clothes about the injustice, if one of those kids were trampled by an elephant or eaten by a lion.)
Education and entertainment have a sort of uneasy coexistance at zoos. Zoos were nominally created for both reasons, but today zoos seem to focus more on education (environmentalism, conservation) and do things like provide "full experiences" by having you walk into an environment that includes animals, birds, and reptiles that coexist in the wild. Most people, it turns out, don't really want this from their zoos. They want to move from one freakish animal to the next where they can see them (don't be hiding in a hole!), point at them, scream and laugh, and frighten the poor animals by knocking on the glass. When we were walking through "Amazonia," two women said to each other "There's nothing here." Well, there's nothing to see if you don't bother to look! Harumph.
At any rate, that's why I couldn't show you what I finished on Sunday night:
copyright 2003 Good Huswife
Called for WDW and GAST on black 32-count linen
(That dark spot on the left is a shadow.)
And as promised, I picked up Tree of Life Window for the drive to DC and back. More photos soon.