Identifying with Zoo Animals

We see the meercats being fed thawed-from-frozen-dead-little-white mice. The cats all have names and their keeper and the
meercats know them. Shades of “Meercat Manor.” ( ) I’d like to be an animal caretaker at the Philadelphia Zoo, to spend more time, than four hours-every-ten-years, in their habitat, to develop relationships like I have with the birds, squirrels, mongoose, mice in my outside backyard and the dogs, cats and mice inside my house. Everyday I’d like to see nature through the eyes of animals and children like the many we saw at the zoo.
The children see more than the adults. The animals see more than both the children and adults, many keeping as far from
the humans as possible.
The cheetah and maned wolf, alone in their enclosures, aloof from the masses, though alert to every sound and movement;
the Rhino sharing his pen with three giraffes and two zebras, actually makes eye contact, used to being gently touched by
patrons at “Behind the Scenes” events; the hundred year old turtle, also making eye contact, before crawling into her pool
of fresh water; the monkey in the overhead mesh trail watching us eat our lunch and throwing down a few morcels of her own
munchings; the large cat also ambling across another overhead trail on this hot day, heading to cat-nap with her mate
just outside the glass enclosure where species of the human variety feast in air-conditioned comfort.
A five-year old in a superman shirt is separated just by a thin wire fence from a magnificent long-haired African Plain’s
animal with horns, both stand their grounds without fear.
My friend and I both have decades of experience with our own domestic animals and children. We know how valuable is the
communication between species, the bonding that occurs. We wander to the Children’s Zoo that features a baby chick in an
incubator hatching before our eyes and then other one-, two-, three-day chicks wobbling around in an attached cubicle. We
see the rats and the rope they walk across, although we miss their performance. We sit down in a living room with a polar
bear looking in and then go outside to pet and groom sheep, goats and ponies.
Four hours of pure bliss we spend, hidden with animals beneath towering trees, feeling this environment to be more real than the one of concrete structures and automobile sounds  just outside the protective fences.  It is a paradise at the Philadelphia Zoo!  IMG_2181IMG_2169IMG_2136 IMG_2137 IMG_2138 IMG_2139 IMG_2141 IMG_2155 IMG_2162 IMG_2175 IMG_2176 IMG_2177



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