Monday, May 01, 2006

Third time IS a charm.

Christian and I have registered for the Eye-to-Eye behind the scenes tour of the Day and Night exhibit at Woodland Park Zoo three times. The first tour was cancelled as we were the only ones registered, the second we missed due to the worst traffic jam in the history of the universe and the third was yesterday. We were certain that a comet would strike the earth the moment we woke up yesterday morning to prevent us from taking the tour. Fortunately, though, the only threat to our attendance was a disgruntled and infantile mother at the restaurant where we ate breakfast, and I wasn't going to risk coming to blows and risking grave injury (she looked like she had seen a fight or two) over her bad parenting technique of flicking her child on the ear (very hard, mind you) to discipline him. I could just envision myself with a broken tooth and a black eye at the emergency room having to explain what happened to me:

Doctor: So, you said "Jesus" under your breath when you saw this woman flick her son's ear?
Me: Yes, and when she said to me in that defensive and hand-in-the-face tone of voice, "It's my call," I told her that she might want to make her call a little more mature the next time.
Doctor: And then she jumped you?
Me: Yeah, right in front of her kids. What a great mother, huh?
Doctor: Yes, a real champ. Now hold still while I pick her press-on fingernails out of your cheek.

Well, the first part happened, but I didn't have a crushing comeback for her so terribly maternal comment, so she passed by with no threat of violence.

We made it to the zoo, even with a few minutes to spare. The tour started at 1:30 with a game of reptile/amphibian/sloth family knowledge tic-tac-toe, which we tied. Our group missed a question about whether or not porcupines can shoot their quills. Turns out that shooting quills are yet another myth propagated by Warner Brothers. Bastards. And here I had a fantasy that, if our team won the game, that we'd get to hold any animal that we wanted. That would be dangerous, however, as whatever I held would most likely end up in my purse.

When we finally got to go into the keeper areas, I wanted to rip open the doors to the exhibits and run inside. The night exhibit keeper was a mild-mannered hippie with the obligatory bandana headband. I just can't do any of the things we saw justice, so you'll have to just look at the pictures and hear the "AAAAAAAAAAAA" of my squeals in your head:

Hedgiehedgiehedgie!!! Sniffy, wiggly nose! ANTEATER!!!! Flicky tongue!!!

And when he took this little bugger out,

check out who was lurking behind him:

I'm surprised Christian didn't have to physically restrain me from jumping into the enclosure. However, lorises have such allergenic saliva that they can cause anaphylaxis with their bite, so it's most likely a good thing I didn't.

The day exhibit has some extensive ongoing conservation projects with turtles and tortoises. These are two Egyptian tortoise hatchlings. And into my pocket they went.

Hee! Little old man faces.

It turns out that they rotate the King cobras. They have a male and a female and the female was behind the scenes when we were there. She was a grumpy, grumpy snake and struck at the glass whenever anyone would take a picture. Very big, very scary, very pretty. Hood. Flarey.

I'm always a little disappointed when the enclosures pretty much look like the ones I have at home:

All in all, a very satisfactory day. Especially as the zoo has a new avian exhibit with free flight budgies, cockatiels, rosellas and Princess Margaret parakeets who are so tame they will feed from your hand:

And there you have it. Add a squealy soundtrack and it will be just like you were there.

1 comment:

Christian said...

And I freaked out and squealed like a little girl and had to be escorted off the premises, banned from the zoo for life.

Seriously, my favorite part was not so much any one animal but just the fact that we were in a magical backstage area that was and shall forever be off-limits to us.

This was right up there with my fantasies of being on Space Mountain and having the lights go on, and wading through the set of Pirates of the Caribbean (the ride), with and without the lights on, sneaking behind the pirate ship, and otherwise going where I ain't supposed to go.

Oh, and Area 51. Don't forget the Area. Sneaking over to Groom Lake and checking out the recovered flying saucers in the hidden hillside bunker that Bob Lazar describes, and finally confirming that we indeed are not alone in the universe. That would be almost as cool as this.