Animal Therapy Day at the Zoo

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I made a trip to the zoo on Saturday, and since my workday Monday is kicking my ass, I thought I’d use my lunch break to write about it. Just in case it helps me calm down a bit!

I love being at the zoo. I walk differently there. Happier. From the moment I step off the bus, though some of it could probably be attributed to the fact that I just spent a good 40-45 minutes on a bus.

But I digress. Being at the zoo makes me happy (especially when there aren’t a ton of people around), and I’ve not only learned a lot about animals in captivity and their counterparts in the wild, but also about how to be a better mom to the non-humans I keep captive in my apartment. That I continue to learn new things every time I go there makes me even happier, but mostly it’s just getting to be around the animals themselves. It’s peaceful.

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I usually have goals in mind for who I want to see when I go, too. I have my staples, like the gorilla troop, and currently the white lion cubs on the weekends. There are always others that I either plan to see before I go, or decide to visit once I get there. This time I was meeting friends, but had a few minutes to spare before they arrived, so I went to check in on the clouded leopards, Mingma and Pavarti. Mingma had been out and about, but when I got there, they were cleaning the cages and he refused to leave the spot where Pavarti was, so he was tucked away in a corner. I still got a look at his handsome self, though, and that’s all I really needed. This time.

I had time to check in on Ashakiran the Indian Rhino and the two Barbarusa’s before I headed over to the brand new Tim Horton’s (!) to meet up with my pals, where I was then coerced into having some ridiculous creamy chocolate chill beverage and a chocolate caramel donut.

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While waiting for the diabetic coma to set in, we chatted and laughed and figured out our plan of attack for the next few hours. Our first stop was the polar bear enclosure, to hear the daily keeper talk. The girls, Aurora (mom to Hudson, Humphrey, and new baby girl Juno) and her twin sister Nikita were ready for snack time, even though the Keeper Hollie had not yet arrived. They knew what time it was! Inukshuk (dad to all of the cubbies) was in the back, peeking over the rocks to make sure he didn’t miss anything.

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After the Keeper Talk, I got to meet Hollie, and found out she was the one who’d seen my post about Hudson back when he was leaving, and brought it to Jeff’s attention, leading to my chance to throw the bear some fish on his last day! Yay Hollie!!!

Next up was the white lion cubs, of course. They were being their adorable bratty selves, but as soon as the crowd started to grow in anticipation of the Keeper Talk, we headed out of the area. My friends all had a volunteer meeting to get to, so I was on my own for the rest of the afternoon, which was fine, too. I headed straight for the gorillas, and as soon as I walked in, I immediately felt that sense of calm settle over me. I just stood and watched for a few minutes, mentally checking off in my mind who was who. I really only get Sadiki and Johari mixed up now, I think. But this time it’s possible I could tell even them apart, for a change!

Soon after I arrived, the troop all headed down to where their door is to go through to their nighttime/play area, while their Keepers spread around snacks for them to find. As they headed down to the door, though, I saw Charles the silverback round a corner, his young daughter Nneka in front of him, leading the way. As they reached the slope of the hill, Nneka decided to somersault down it instead of walk, still in front of Charles. Almost like a “Watch me roll, Daddy!” kind of moment. SO FREAKING CUTE!

She actually came up to the glass a couple of times, as did her older brother, Nassir. Even Charles came over closer than I’ve usually seen him, and checked everyone out through the window.

Once they were back in their larger daytime area, everyone scattered about to look for the treats hidden around by their Keepers. I saw Nassir and Nneka race for what looked like a piece of melon. Nneka won, but Nassir clearly let her, which was the sweetest thing ever. He’s such a good big brother. Nneka set herself to rolling around on the ground, and pulling leaves off a specific plant in their enclosure – I’m not sure why, but it had apparently captured her interest. She also came up to the glass and would drum on it with her hands, then push off backwards and hit the ground rolling, which everyone watching totally loved – except maybe her mom, Ngozi!

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Just before I finally moved on, there was some kind of kerfuffle – I’m not sure what happened, exactly, but Ngozi grabbed Nneka, and someone ran off in the other direction, and even Charles got involved, so I knew it was being handled! All he had to do was sit in the middle of everyone else and they all calmed right back down. Dad’s angry – everybody STOP. It’s so cool to watch – they seem so silent most of the time. I don’t know how they communicate with one another, but from what I could tell, none of them made a sound. Everyone just understood that that was enough – as my dad would say – fiddle-assin’ around. And that was the end of it. Over as quickly as it had begun.

I made quick stops by the meerkats and lemurs, saw the (I think new) Nile Monitor for the first time, checked in on Kiko and Mstari in the Giraffe House, then headed to the loo and Zootique (I call it the Loo-tique). Naturally, when I have very little cash to spread around, I found one polar bear pendant that I’ve been keeping an eye out for, so out came the Visa, because I couldn’t leave it behind!

Then bus stop and on my way home.

Brody gave me a huge sniff-down when I got back, and then he and I went out for a walk. Being out with him is usually pretty calming for me, too, so I killed off more of the sugar high while extending my peace streak.

It was a pretty perfect day!

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