This morning I was awoken bright and early by some insanely loud hip hop music blaring from the porch across the street. Welcome to Memorial Day. I laid in bed for a bit longer, but the music eventually drove me to quieter locations away from the window.
Shortly after this, my colleague and friend K called and told me they were heading over to the zoo and did I want to join them? K and R have a zoo membership (these things happen when you have a toddler), which enables them to bring in guest for free. I said sure, I’m up, and I’ve been wanting to see the zoo here. See, I live really close, and pass it on my way to work everyday. On my way home, if I get the timing wrong, I end up playing chicken on my bike with all the strollers (not fun) and dodging the kids running everywhere (even less fun than the strollers). So it would be nice to see the inside of the Philadelphia Zoo instead of just the outside.
By the time I left the house a little less than an hour later to meet K, R, and daughter Maja, my neighbors across the street had set up several picnic tables with umbrellas and the grills were warming up. Obviously a party in the making.
I met my friend and her family just inside the main gate to the zoo, and away we went. Maja was a bundle of energy, running everywhere with a big grin and giggling and talking constantly, commenting on everything we passed. At one point, another zoo goer quipped “is she free or do you get paid for the entertainment she’s providing?” It’s amazing how much energy a 2 year old can have.
We started with the tortoises and wandered our way along the main path. We went through the reptile house, R singing the boa constrictor song to a laughing Maja, who is obviously NOT afraid of snakes and other reptilian things. Good for her. I, however, will not be getting a pet snake anytime soon. They’re just fine there behind the glass.
After reptiles, we hit the primate house. The spider monkeys had a couple of baby monkeys in April, who were climbing around the enclosure with great abandon. They are so cute. Several of the primates were either still eating breakfast or engaged in a post-meal nap. But the orangutans were out, and one was obviously trying to start something with the other, poking her and following her around (the boy being the instigator, of course), but the girl was having none of it. It was quite amusing to watch. Maja chose to go see the big cats next, who posed quite accommodatingly for photos. The big male lion treated us to some live grunting and growling and roaring, which was very cool. And the gibbons responded with their own ruckus.
In the puma enclosure is a family of siblings, two sisters and their brother. They were playing as we walked up, one sister stalking and tackling the other one and generally trying to make a nuisance of herself. Eventually big brother got involved, stalking the two, crouching and then pouncing on the two girls. All three chased each other around the enclosure for a bit. And then we got to chase Maja to the next cat enclosure.
After the cats, we stopped for a snack before seeing the rest of the animals. The river otters were very energetic, playing with their food, tossing the fish around and to each other before eating it. Bald eagles, and rhinos, and zebras, and giraffes, they were all out to play. It wasn’t too hot, and the cloud cover kept the sun away. We did get a few sprinkles, but nothing beyond a spit or two, and if that’s the price we paid to have all the animals out and not hiding away, fine by me.
Zebras are one of my favorite animals. I can’t explain it. I’ve always liked the zebras. As a child on the merry-go-round on The Mall in Washington, DC, back before there became only horses and were all different animals, I always rode the zebra. If another child was on the zebra, I’d wait and ride it the next round. Something about zebras. My dad and his wife went to Africa this past year and saw zebras in the wild. Dad got some amazing pictures, and sent me a print as my birthday card. Very cool. Just to be nice, the zebra today stopped moving long enough for me to get a picture, and then galloped around the enclosure a few times to show off. I grinned like a little girl.
By this point, we were nearing the end, and after 3 hours of walking, even Maja with her boundless 2 year old energy was starting to slow down. Not enough to ride in her stroller, but enough so that R didn’t have to run after her, he could walk. All he and K hope for is that it wore her out enough to take her afternoon nap.
A big thank you to R and K for the invite, I really enjoyed myself. And you can see the collection of photos I took here on Flickr.
I walked home and arrived to the smell of grills and smokers going full force. People were arriving for the party across the street, and the smell of bbq is in the air. Fortunately, they had switched the music from blaring hip hop to some nice mellow classic R&B. I tried to sit outside, but I need to invest in some bug repellent or citronella candles. I was only outside for 20 minutes and ended up with 3 mosquito bites. Summer has certainly arrived.
Happy Memorial Day, everyone.