Saturday, January 29, 2011
You Go, Diego!
Have you ever fed an elephant?
Last week the girls and I got the chance to do just that - courtesy of my friend Chilly. It was an eleventh hour opportunity, but I managed to beg some time off work. After all, you don't pass up the chance to pet a pachyderm.
When I was growing up there was a tiny zoo in the even tinier town next to us. Knaresborough Zoo did not stay around very long, it was closed down when I was in my teens due to budget and permitting issues. I think it was woefully underfunded, more of a personal collection of animals than a zoo, and the more I remember it, the more it would have provided much fodder for the likes of 'When Animals Attack', but I didn't notice any of that as a child. What I do vividly remember was getting to touch a Burmese python on one of my trips, so when Chilly mentioned we'd get a free behind the scenes tour of the Santa Barbara Zoo, complete with elephant feeding, Channel Island fox petting and toad prodding I was all for it.
We go to the zoo a lot thanks to a Christmas gift from my Mum and Dad, but we usually try and stop Lucy from touching the animals. This was going to be fun.
Our first stop was backstage at the 'Eww' exhibit. All the creepy-crawlies and things with more legs than my car has goldfish crackers. The first animal we saw was a massive blob of a toad. Lucy piped up "I touch it!!" and the zookeeper said yes. I don't think Lucy was expecting this, because she gave a slight pause and then said "Anna touch it?!" To which Anna said not bloody likely, you touch it, so Lucy backed down and said 'I dwan noo'.
I think we may have just cured Lucy of the 'I touch its'.
While we were walking to the next 'encounter' (Channel Island Fox petting - quite how they got it into that harness we never asked), the zookeeper was describing the passing exhibits and asking questions. She asked if anyone knew the difference between an ape and a monkey. I was thinking the spelling, but we were all drawing a blank when Anna piped up "monkeys have tails and apes don't."
Obviously I need to be watching more Go Diego Go, because she was quite right, and we were all a bit flabbergasted. The Tiger Mom in me roared with approval, until the zoo tour guide said it happens all the time - it's always the under 6's who know the difference between a kinkajou and a koala - because they lap that stuff up (and watch 6 hours of TV a day - it went unsaid, but we all knew it).
The Tigger Mom in me was restored.