Why I love zoos

We went to the San Diego Zoo on Sunday because, well, we're in San Diego. (And the very concept of Sea World scares the crap out of me. But that's another story entirely.) Per my request, we spent a large portion of our time staring at apes and monkeys. Their little opposable hands are both cool and freaky at the same time. Every time I think a zoo is going to be rather boring, the animals remind me why I like going to see them, especially the ape children.

In one habitat were the orangutans. The male, hunched over and looking like a particularly sad Snuffleuppagus, was whining for food. A female was sitting at the glass that separated us from them, fascinated with a girl who was similarly sitting on the ground taking notes and especially interested in the girl's water bottle and compact mirror.

Many of the gorillas were sitting or sleeping against the glass separating them from us. A gorilla child was being quite spazzy, jumping all over his father, the silverback, and generally wreaking havoc. The best part, though, was when he picked up a stick and started spinning in circles for the heck of it. It was quite cute - and then he bonked his head into the glass. As Patrick noted, he also kept trying to imitate his dad by beating his tiny little gorilla chest. Adorable.

The bonobos weren't as interesting as I'd hoped they would be. They were eating a lunch of oranges when we showed up, just munching and staring at the people behind the glass. One female was quite active and kept swinging all over the place, doing somersaults and flips from the ropes. And there was a bonobo child who plopped himself down facing the spectators and proceeded to pick his nose and eat it. I guess it's a primate thing.

In another habitat, I was straining to get a better look at a colobus monkey and her 1-week-old baby (a rather ugly and helpless little thing). A couple other high-school-aged girls were standing next to me, directly across from part of the chain-link colobus cage wall. A male skittered across the wall and tried to get some lettuce from the top of the cage. But perhaps he wanted our attention, which was directed sideways trying to get a good look at the baby, because he plastered his ventral side against the cage and started urinating. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw this stream of water nearly hit the girl next to me - it was only inches from splashing her.

I expected strange things from the apes and monkeys, but one giraffe took the prize for animals doing weird things. A large male giraffe kept following others around, trying to sniff their nether regions. He persisted when a female giraffe walked into a corner of the habitat to poop. A minute later, another female walked to the same corner and started peeing - and the male stuck out his long black tongue to catch a few drops. I don't think Patrick believes me, but it totally happened.

Those were the zoo highlights. Patrick has all sorts of pictures of the animals he has yet to cull and post, but since his camera doesn't take video, I felt it necessary to report on the slightly odd animal behavior.


Anonymous said…
The spinning/dancing primate child was the gorilla, not the orang. He kept beating his chest, too, which was funny because he was so little.

What sort of cheap-ass camera can't even take videos? Sheesh.
Sara said…
The Wild Animal Park out in Escondido is one of my favs too! Definitely hit that place next time you are in the SD area.
Chris Cameron said…
I'm glad you liked the SD zoo. I thought it was kinda depressing after seeing the NC one where the critters have room to walk around. I seem to remember an elephant living on a concrete pad about the size of a couple hotel rooms. :(
Yeah, the elephants have little room, but they're getting their own giant habitat in the spring. The zookeepers are even getting the elephants accustomed to their cage for the ride over. So hopefully that'll help. But it's not like the giraffes had much space to run around either.
rigelt said…
The 2nd part of your posting was just way to funny. hehe. I fail to grasp the remark 'slightly odd behavior' though. Some of our kids' stories go in similar directions, not to mention the totally weird stuff some adults get into ;-)
By the way - got here through oracle of bacon. Small world ...

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