Tuesday, August 24, 2010

No, You Can't Have a Live Koala as a Pet. Or a Manatee.

On the last day of our Ohio visit, my parents took us all to The Columbus Zoo. Jack Hanna (of Tonight Show fame) is the director of this zoo, and it is fantastic.

I learned something valuable that day, and I'd like to pass it on to you as life advice, which you should probably write in permanent ink on your hand. It's that important.

Here it is: If you go to the zoo on the hottest day of a Midwestern summer, just go ahead and skip the rhino enclosure. Particularly if you have a fairly hair-trigger gag reflex.

Holy STENCH. There are no words. I'll just say that no Port-a-Potty I've ever encountered could come within 1/1000 of the odor of that enclosure. They must outfit the trainers with gas masks or something. Not only did I not pause to admire the mighty rhino, I picked up my sedate pace to something approximating a quick trot until I was well upwind.

The brown bears just sat around looking big, dumb, and goofy, trying to convince us that they wouldn't mind at all if we climbed over the fence and cuddled them like big fluffy teddy bears. Unfortunately for them, I've read this book, and it was so completely terrifying that I will never, ever be tempted to walk up to a bear. The quote I remember from that book, which is a true account of people who have been attacked by bears, is one from a man who was dragged out of his tent by a grizzly. His friends reported hearing him scream, "Oh God, it's got my leg off!" as he was being mauled to death.

Nice try on the cute act, bears. I saw those teeth when you yawned, and I'm not falling for it.
The newest exhibit was the polar bears. They had a beautiful enclosure complete with a moat full of rainbow trout with a viewing deck both from above-ground and underwater. The polar bears are twin sisters, rescued as orphaned cubs near Alaska.

They are also rude and inconsiderate.

How, you ask, can polar bears be rude?
Well, keep in mind that it was HOT that day. Like, jungle hot. Not a cloud in the sky. High humidity. Scorching sun. Sweat dribbled constantly from my scalp down into my eyes, and even my purse felt cloyingly hot pressed against my side.

Meanwhile, the polar bears, rudely did THIS the entire time we were on the observation deck. Over and over again with palpable glee. Almost like they knew we were about to pass out from heat exhaustion as we stood, pressed against the glass watching.
Then this. As if they were filming a goddamn Mountain Dew commercial or something. Jerks.
At least this guy was gracious enough to look as hot and uncomfortable as the zoo guests. He laid on his shaded platform with his harem the entire time we stood watching, raised his head for precisely one second while I snapped his picture, then flopped back down to wait for the cool breezes of evening.

That's manners.
I was bizarrely taken with the flying foxes, which were bat-like enough in appearance to horrify my mother. She has an iron-clad "no bat" policy, which was severely tested last summer when one decided to take up residence in their patio table umbrella. He was, to put it mildly, dispatched.

I thought the flying foxes were fantastic, although I concede that they have extremely creepy feet. They reminded me of tiny, elderly British gentlemen, with their raincoats tucked securely around them. They just need little derby-style hats, and the image would be perfect. I
considered writing "Please supply the flying foxes with little hats" and submitting it in the suggestion box, but they'd probably have to staple them to their heads because of the whole hanging upside-down thing. And that would be wrong, so I let it go. Reluctantly, because it really would be fabulous.
Manatees eating lettuce. I'm putting this shot on my fridge as substantiation for my theory that eating salad can so make you fat, so really, why not just focus on cheesecake?Snoozing koala. Adorable. My girls want one as a pet. Me too, but I couldn't find any zoo personnel who could confirm if they could be litter box trained.
The girls were as excited as preschoolers to find a misting station on that hot afternoon. Even Papa joined them under the cooling mist.
It looked tempting, but I believe I've already established on this blog the effects of humidity on my hair? I was afraid that the misting system, combined with the day's heat, would lead to me poking out some hapless tourist's eye with an errant frizzy curl. (Also, I knew there was a decent chance that I'd wind up being in a photograph later that day, and then I'd have to explain the 'do to future generations looking through my photo albums. Much better to appear red-faced and sweaty than with The Frizzy Helmet of Shame).


Jen on the Edge said...

Well now you've scared the shit out of me and I haven't even read that book. I'll never be able to look at a bear again without shuddering.

My girls want a koala too. *sigh* I have a blogger friend in Australia who says that she has koalas in her backyard.

Nana said...

Remember how the girls' hair glittered from the mist? Nice zoo, people. Do stop if you're in Columbus, OH. I'm already ready to go back, but on a cooler day. Zoos and the month of August are not a good mix.

Nana said...

I want a live koala, too. Did you draw my name for Christmas? Hint, Hint!

Dawn in Austin said...

What a great trip through the zoo! Well, except for the rhino thing. EW.

You had me all agiggle this morning. Thanks!

smalltownmom said...

Great pictures!

Cindy said...

I knew I liked you! I've read the bear attack book also. Sneaky bears...

parnola said...

Great pics of the polar bears!!

Susan said...

I still say big and curly hair in humidity beats thin, limp, pasted to my head hair in humidity.

Great looking zoo!

Meg said...

Oh man, I want a manatee! They look so peaceful.

Those damn polar bears. At our local zoo you walk through a tunnel underwater through their pool and they're all sitting on top of the tunnel with just hteir heads sticking out of the water like "suckers, it's cool in here!"

And I refused to check out your amazon link as I will be in the wilderness with bears whil I am on vacation and I would prefer not to be removed from my tent by a grizzly thankyouverymuch.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I have the opposite problem with misters--I would have to walk around with frighteningly flat hair.

Those are really great pics of the polar bears!