Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Zoo Goers

Yesterday the dude took off from work and because he's just finished Temple Grandin's Animals in Translation, I thought he might enjoy a trip to the zoo. We have done Philadelphia's zoo--America's first zoo--so many times, I thought we should change things up. When I suggested the National Zoo, the dude wanted to know what they had. I was very excited about elephant washing, but he was won over by the chance to see a panda. (You never know with him. Remember the sheep herding?)

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.

He's having fun, really.

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:

Anna's Bird
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.

18 comments:

AmyNJ said...

Anna's Bird looks great! Congrats on the finish, and good luck on the next one.

Anonymous said...

Yippee! To both the Anna's Bird finish and the zoo. I can't wait for my trip to D.C. in September - and to the see the Bird finish-finished.

dd

Caroline said...

Hurray!!!!!

Deb said...

This post cracked me up - could it be the margarita I just had! Perhaps it was the panda and what it did. Reminds me of my son wanting a penquin! LOL. Have been wondering what the dude looked like - and I'm sure he was having fun even though I don't see a smile! And I have to agree with you about the people watching. I get many hours doing that while my kids run rampant through the mall. It makes you wonder about their lives sometimes! I do love your finish on Anna's Bird though - like the colors and everything about it!

LadyDoc said...

The Philadelphia Zoo will always be my sentimental favorite, but I do also love the National Zoo. We've had many happy experiences there over the years. The only problem with the National Zoo for me? Those HILLS!! Until we learned to start at the back, we'd work through the whole zoo and then, already exhausted, have the hills to negotiate to get back to the gate.

Sounds like you had a great day!

Tanya said...

I really like your GH finish. Your zoo experience is so true and funny.

Kathryn said...

My mother wanted to take home a margay. I'd settle for a caracal. When I go to the zoo, it's for the cats, the snakes, and the rhinos. LA Zoo used to have the BEST rare Felines and Panthera.

doris said...

Oh my gosh! Dogs herding sheep is one of my favorite things to watch! In January, the man I hang around with took me to the working dog competition at the National Western Stock Show (my first trip ... he was appalled). We had so much fun. OK, so I'm a teachery nerd ... but it was great.

The Bird is wonderful, by the way. But now I've got those silly sheep dogs on my brain.

Leah said...

Anna's Bird looks great...good on you for finishing it!

Cathy said...

The best zoo we ever went to was the one in San Diego. The elephants were dancing! Thanks for the post about the Nat'l zoo, though. It's something I can think about doing with the kids.

Coni said...

Holey Schmoley, you! Can I just be the first to say (in a most respecful way, of course)....hubba hubba! Your dude is lovely, Hubble!

OK. I promise. That's the last time I'll use that one.

Loved the zoo visit, btw.

OH! And congratulations on your finish. It's freakin' beautiful!

Sharon said...

It's gorgeous!

Aussie Stitcher said...

Congratulations on finishing Anna's Bird, it looks great. Love what you wrote about the zoo. I too get annoyed with the glass tappers. The Melbourne Zoo is a great place to visit, the gorillas are in an enclosure with a 'moat' around it, and have been known to throw their poo at unsuspecting observers. One of my all time favorite animals are meerkats, just love watching the ones being 'look out,' too cute!!

C in DC said...

Congrats on the finish. It's lovely. Glad you and the Dude enjoyed our fair city.

Dani - tkdchick said...

Congrats it looks fantastic!

Donna said...

So you wait till I'm out of town to come down this way...

Michelle said...

Ok, so last time I was at the zoo...two comments overheard. At the Komoto Dragons "Dad, what is that?" "I don't know, but it will eat you alive." And then, at the bears, dad to kids "Every day they feed one child to the bears, you don't want today to be your day." Ah, zoos. Anyway....love love love your Anna's bird. That GH, she sure knew how to design. Shame they're all out of print now. Love it!!!!

Meari said...

Congrats on your bird finish!