Interesting Day

Interesting day.

Physically taxing, yet somewhat emotionally rejuvenating.

I had kind of a hard week – work, fatigue, the heat, stress, sadness yet trying to wean off antidepressants, and a general malaise in every facet of my being.

I am tired.

This morning, I helped out a raccoon who took longer than usual to accept my aid, but I finally saw them run across the street to head home for the day.  Then I carried home a sweet little cabinet that was on the curb – it was heavier than it seemed at first, and about did me in on a physical level.  My muscles have been shaking ever since; every cell of my body feels drained.

Totally have great nerdy plans for that cabinet, though.

Then, after much back-and-forth deliberation, I went to the zoo.  Had a brief but amazing time with equally amazing friends,got to see inside the white rhino barn and met Tony, the handsomest white rhino I’ve ever seen.  He is astounding up close – at least as close as we got today.  I can’t even imagine being able to touch him and look directly into those deep, gentle eyes of his.

Also, there was swag, some of which I scored thanks to those aforementioned amazing friends, and am so excited to add to my zoo-related belongings!

And there were crayons.  And, hence, colouring.

I decided to stay longer to hang out with young Miss Juno, who was being ridiculously cute and even lingered by the fence with me for a while.  Also helped a nice older lady plan her tour of zoo babies, which was fun!

I was running out of steam in the Eurasia Wilds when I met up with another friend, but decided that I could not leave in good conscience without seeing the baby lynx and my beloved gorilla troop.  So I stayed longer than planned, but added the giraffes (Kiko has grown taller, I believe), and a repeat viewing of the polar bears – as well as other animals along the way – to the mix.

Now I’m extra exhausted, and everyone hurts.

But I can’t say it wasn’t worth it!

Thanks friends!  🙂

PS Too tired to proofread this – sorry for any errors I didn’t catch while typing!

 

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Zoo Day Okay

First day of a four day long weekend for me, so tried to sleep in a bit, then went to the zoo for a while.

Headed out later than usual to avoid the school crowd, and that actually worked out pretty well.  More people were leaving than arriving, by that point.

I’m still not in a good space, and even he happiest place on Earth couldn’t cure my blues, but it still had its moments.  I decided to not visit the pandas because I needed something more immediate than a half hour wait for thirty seconds of time, so I headed straight for my friend, Juno, the polar bear cub.  Back in her big brother’s day, it was the Tundra Trek where I spent the beginning and end of my day, so it seemed a better fit.  I tried taking a few deep breaths once I was in the relative quiet of the Core Woods, too, just to try and wash some of the “me” off of me.

Juno is really freaking cute.  She spent a lot of time trying to get her keepers to bring out some more food once she had emptied her bowl (saving some on her nose for later like the delicate flower that she is), but did come over closer a few times, and I got some golden shots of her adorable little face.  She’s getting good at taking a running jump up onto her rocks, now, too.  I still have yet to see her in her pool, though.

I swung by to check on a few other friends – the giraffes, white lions, Watusi, penguins – but I spent a great deal of time with the gorilla troop.  I was even there for most of the keeper talk, and then spent several minutes chatting with the keeper more after, too.  I love being around that family.  They never fail to just calm the world down.  My heart was so down today that I had tears in the corner of my eyes more often than not, but still…they are just so much love.  And Charles is such a big kid when it’s treat time during the keeper talk.  Totally chill, but so kid-like he makes me heart explode sometimes.  Don’t even GE me started on Nneka, either.  That baby girl, man.  She is really something else.  I will miss seeing her and Nassir together, but she’s really growing into a sweet, hilarious, Independant youngster, and I’ m enjoying watching her interactions with everyone else, now, too.

Baby Lynx, a  zoomobile ride through Eurasia, Dairy Queen, time spent with a friend, and then home to the critters I love most.

With the very real possibility that I’ll do at least some of it again tomorrow.  Maybe by then I’ll be able to enjoy it more, too.

Harambe

Harambe.jpg

Ugh I’m so torn!

Do I join the rest of the uneducated masses spewing forth ignorant, empty of thought opinions online about the whole gorilla thing? Or do I continue to bite my tongue and hope my simmering rage will subside on its own before it boils over and spews out on its own? Haha

Such a quandary!

I mean, on the one hand, my opinion is no more or less valid than anyone else’s, even though I’m pretty sure most people are just wrong. Haha

But what would be gained from my babbling rant being added to the rest of what’s already out there? Nothing. It likely wouldn’t even change anyone’s attitude nor opinion, and would instead preach to the choir, just like everyone else. And you know how much I hate being like everyone else.

So given that what I think isn’t more valid than what anyone else thinks, what about the benefit of remaining silent and moving on about my daily life? Surely there are many good reasons to do that. Except my opinion isn’t less valid, either, and with so many voices out there loudly decrying the opposite of mine, it’s hard to believe that I should be the one remaining silent when so many others are selfishly putting theirs out there. And you know how much I hate being like everyone else if no one else notices how delightfully different I am.

I guess the deciding factor is really in the notion that I’m sure some people think they know what I think, and as that is not necessarily the case, it’s probably best to do my own talking on the subject, rather than let anyone else do it for me. I don’t really have time to put my thoughts into any coherent order, or articulate them very well, so this is pretty much all reaction to the public reactions I’ve been seeing all over the internet since the incident occurred. There is, as always, a boatload of judgement flying about, and should-haves and accusations and finger-pointing at where blame ought to be laid. Many are using it as proof that their soap-boxing ideas are correct, and most seem to see it as a black and white issue; a blanket for all animals, or parents, or children, or zoos, or zoo staff, or whatever. I don’t even know. What I don’t see is much discussion about a) this particular incident with this particular animal, and b) alternate viable solutions other than the occurring result.

So, let’s see…couple of quick things, I guess.

  • To those who say Harambe (he had a name, and a personality, which is weird considering he wasn’t a person by definition) and all animals should not be in zoos, he was captive-born, so what you are really saying is that he should never have been born at all. And if that’s what you think, then you have no right to be upset that he has now died. If you think he had no right to live in the first place, then how he lived and how he died are none of your concern. Move on and find another argument to waste everyone’s time with.
  • To those who say zoos are terrible, unnatural places for animals, I can counter your blanket statement by pointing out that they are better, healthier and allow for more natural behaviours that nursing homes, seniors residences, group homes, orphanages, foster homes and any institution which house our physically and mentally challenged citizens. Those statements are both true in some cases, but in many are also false. Each scenario should be judged on its merit alone, and not all lumped in together into one general assumption. Inform your opinions. Seriously.
  • Human lives matter more than any other species. To humans. Pretty much every other species would say the same. As always, there are exceptions to every rule, but even for me, while logic dictates that the member of the NON-endangered species should have been killed instead, my biological instinct, or whatever, is to save the child, even though there are a billion more just like him on the planet already.
  • I get why tranquilizers weren’t used. They don’t take effect immediately, and would instead agitate Harambe further, along with all the screaming and crying from the hairless apes around him. What I wonder is, given that things like this happen ALL THE TIME (not just in zoos, either), why no one has worked on finding other quicker alternatives to outright killing. There is a good ten minutes of middle ground in there. Why aren’t we looking for methods which would fit in between tranquilize and kill? Is it because killing is so often our first option that we don’t bother to look further?
  • What did the wee tyke learn from his trip to the zoo that day? A healthy respect for non-human animals? Doubtful. A greater awareness that rules are in place for a reason, and that they actually apply to him? Also doubtful, considering the number of grown-ass adults who also climb over fences at zoos these days. I suspect that all that will be retained in that kid’s still soft skull of his day at the zoo will be whatever other people tell him. For sure he wasn’t punished for going somewhere that’s supposed to be off-limits to him, so he won’t even have learned that, either. Those are the kinds of things that are supposed to be taught before going places – following rules, being a member of society, that sort of thing. Of course, most of us grown-ass adults also don’t abide by such general rules, either, so it’s really no wonder that kids don’t ever learn.
  • More and more, we have to protect animals from ourselves and from other people, not the other way around. Your dog should not have to be muzzled so he doesn’t bite some kid who hits him with a stick. But he is, because it’s easier than teaching the kid not to hit. People expect that zoos are there to entertain (they’re not), or to teach children to respect wildlife (if only their parents would learn that respect as well and pass it on themselves, instead of expecting zoos to do it for them), but the way I see it, they are there, for the most part, to protect wildlife from human beings. We poach, we destroy habitat, we trophy hunt – it’s our fault that so many species are on the brink of extinction, while we spread across the Earth like a cancer, consuming everything in our path. And yet, even in captivity, or sanctuaries, or reserves of any sort, we just can’t seem to keep them safe from us. Maybe because we can’t all agree on the best way to go about saving them. Maybe because we can’t even agree to disagree on the best way and try a bunch of different ways in the hopes of attaining the best results. We’re too busy arguing with one another to bother thinking about the animal in front of us; the one we put there with our own greed and ignorance.

There’s more, but I am out of time for today.

Rest in peace, sweet Harambe. Thanks for saving that kid’s life, even at the expense of your own. I’m sorry some people think you should not have been born; I’m not one of them. I’m glad you were here, and that your final moments highlighted one of many ugly truths about the human race.

We’re still making it all about us.

Re-Zoo-Venation

Okay guys, full disclosure.  I had an amazing day – but I am totally wiped, and fully distracted by this interesting beverage concoction I’ve created and the Survivor episode of Price is Right I am watching on my PVR.

So this will be short.

Today was the first day of my 4-day vacation, and my plan was to go to the zoo, weather permitting.  I knew rain was called for, but it wasn’t expected to be a wash-out of a day, so I took a chance and went.  The construction guys (aka Doozers) outside my window start sawing concrete blocks at 7am, so it’s not like I can go back to bed after Brody and I go out for a walk.  May as well stay up and be productive.

Or, in the case of today, go for some much needed animal therapy.

I was grumpy when I arrived, because there were throngs of school groups at the gate, which made for a long wait to see panda cubs for a very short period of time.  But the little fools are growing up without me, and I can’t abide that, so I made sure to see them first.  A walk through the Eurasian Wilds calmed me right down, though, as I had the whole place almost entirely to myself.

Up next was some time with baby girl Juno.  Er…Private Juno.  There were several people there, but not too crazy, and the best thing about little kids is how quickly they get bored and move on.  The second best thing is that they are short and I can shoot over them.  Also, the kid was putting on a show – a clinic in adorableness – and from there, the rest of my day just stayed on a high note.

Baby lynx…oh my word.  Grizzly bears playing in their pool in the rain.  White lion cubs who I haven’t seen in months – so big now!  Until they stand next to dad, Fintan, of course.  My faves, the gorilla troop – some high drama there with Johari and Nassir battling one another for a gorilla stuffie they were given to play with.  Baby girl Nneka got involved, too!  And when did she and Nassir get so much bigger than I remember them being?!

Throw in a hot dog, Steve’s arrival after his shift was over, Dairy Queen, more time with the Lynx babies and finishing off our day in the company of Asha and young Nandu and being kissed by the sun…it was perfect.

I had to grab a couple of quick things on the way home, and all told was gone for about 12 hours.  Whaaat?  That was twice as long as I’d expected, but totally worth it.  I am exhausted yet rejuvenated at the same time.  I have no words.  And…totally distracted, as I said.

More soon!

Two Years

Two years ago today – March 7th, 2014 – I had the day off work. It was a Friday, and while there was a very busy Mind Reels weekend lined up (Canadian Screen Awards broadcast gala and, I believe, Toronto Comicon, as well), I’d decided to go to the zoo for a while, before things really kicked into high gear. It was a nice day, and not only was there a handsome polar bear cub named Humphrey I wanted to visit, but there had also been a tiny gorilla baby born recently, and while I’d seen the top of her head, or a limb, and several photos of her, I’d not yet gotten a good look at her in person. I thought I’d give my luck another try that day.

I could never have guessed how impactful that day at the zoo would be for me, and in how many different ways my life would change – was, in fact, changed before I even left my apartment.

I think that was one of the first times I went to the zoo alone. I know the very first time was for Hudson’s birthday, because he was my bear and I wasn’t about to miss his first birthday, especially given that he almost didn’t live long enough to have it. But while I’d made my way out to the zoo on March 7th by myself, I did manage to meet up with a couple of people I’d recently befriended via our mutual love for the zoo and everybody in it. So there was that. I wasn’t completely alone.

I visited with Humphrey for awhile – and Steve, one of my new friends – and though I don’t remember much else from the first part of that day, I know I eventually made my way over to hang out with the gorilla troop. My other new friend, Laurel, was there, too, and because of her, I had the great honour that day of meeting Johari, the gorilla I’d seen as a baby on Zoo Diaries, but whom I couldn’t yet tell apart from others in the troop. I knew Charles the silverback, and Nassir (because he’s smaller than the rest), and Ngozi because she had a baby riding around with her all the time at that point. I was pretty sure I could tell Josephine from the others, but Sadiki and Johari in particular, I kept getting mixed up. I’d really wanted to meet Johari in person, so was thrilled when Laurel introduced us. As soon as I said her name, her beautiful eyes fixed on mine and I was in love.

Even though I still get her mixed up sometimes. Sorry Johari – I’m learning, I promise!

A couple of weird things had happened that morning, as well. A friend texted me out of the blue asking if I’d “heard about Alysia”, one of our coworkers, and one of my favourite people on the planet. My platonic girlfriend, we’d decided once day. I’d been texting with her the night before a bit as we sent each other selfies that our cats had taken with the Cat Snaps phone app her mom had discovered. After that text, though, I had a bit of an uneasy feeling, like maybe Alysia been fired, or something. I texted back that no, I hadn’t heard anything, what was going on?

When I didn’t get a response after a period of time had gone by, I decided to just go to the source, so I texted Alysia herself.

Are you okay? Is something going on?”

No response from that, either, which was extra weird, because she’d know I’d start to worry if I didn’t hear back from her. My uneasy feeling grew, but I pushed it aside. I was being paranoid, and I was at the zoo, so I turned my attention back to the present moment. I knew I’d be there for Alysia, whenever and whatever she needed.

So, as if getting to interact with Johari a bit wasn’t enough, I also finally got my wish of getting a better view of baby Nneka for the first time! Ngozi brought her over closer to the window while I was there, and despite some little kids being in the way, I still got to look on her adorable wee face for a few moments before moving out of the way. I went off to the side then, used my zoom lens, and caught a couple of sweet pics of the little one lifting her head up and looking around a bit more than she had before. Once again, I was in love.

Then my phone rang.

It was Tim. I figured he’d forgotten that I was at the zoo, and wanted to go over our plan of attack for the weekend, or something, so I answered.

It wasn’t what I thought. At all.

After some back and forth about whether or not I should sit down, he finally got it out: there’d been a huge fire. He didn’t need to say any more. My stomach dropped, and I spoke her name aloud.

Alysia.

In that moment I knew, and my heart exploded. She was gone.

A lot happened after that, but I don’t remember most of the details. Some I remember very clearly, but most not.

I told Laurel, and she hugged me and cried with me. She’d heard about the fire on the news earlier, and agreed that the kitten wouldn’t have made it, either. It was all too overwhelming to really take in. I texted Steve to tell him, and by then I was feeling really confused as to what I should do next, so when he offered to drive me home, I agreed. He asked if I wanted to leave right then, and I didn’t know. He asked if I wanted to see Humphrey again before we left, because the area had cleared out a bit since I’d been there earlier. I pictured the little furball in my mind and said yes. Yes, I want to be around him again for a few minutes.

I couldn’t breathe very well, and there seemed to be a huge hole in my chest that no one else could see, but it was hurting. A lot.

I got lost in the African Pavilion, and fought panic as I tried to find my way outside. I eventually did, and gulped air while taking stock of where the hell I was, and where the hell I needed to go to get back to the polar bear cub.

I finally got sorted out and headed in the right direction. My mind was spinning the whole time, trying to figure out how what I knew to be true could possibly BE true. I’d just been talking to her the night before. I’d hugged her goodbye when we’d parted ways on the subway, and told her to get home safe. Maybe there’d been some kind of mistake. But there wasn’t. I consoled myself with the idea that maybe they’d all slept through the whole thing; that the smoke had taken them before they could wake up.

That turned out to not be true, either, and it wasn’t really much comfort even when I hoped it was, anyway. I cried off and on the whole way back to the Tundra Trek, and as I got closer, a flash of colour out of the corner of my eye. A red-tailed hawk flew by, low, not much higher than I stood.

Alysia…” I whispered her name into the breeze and started to cry again.

Just then, the Arctic Wolves began to howl – the whole pack. It felt like they were giving voice to my shattered heart, and I stopped to listen to them a moment, waiting for the tears to take another break.

I continued on my way.

I found Steve, and moments later, young Humphrey wandered over, stood up and put his front paws on the fence, and just looked up at us for a few moments. Then he started to play, as though he knew being his entertaining self was exactly what was needed. It fixed nothing, changed nothing, but it did make me smile.

That day, the day the whole world changed, is now two years passed, and the Earth has continued spinning the whole time. The sun still rises and sets, I get up and come to work, I pay bills, I watch TV, I go out and laugh and have a good time. To all outward appearances, everything has carried on much as it did before.

But it’s not the same. The hole in my chest has taken up permanent residency, and while it’s settled into a general ache most of the time, there are still those moments that it blows wide open again, as though to remind me that it’s still there. Alysia’s dog, Brody, lives with me now, and is a bright shining light in my everyday life, just as she was. Her family feels like my family now, too. Her friends feel like my friends.

I’m sorry that I never met Jordan, Katie, little Frankie the kitten before they were taken in the fire, too. I’m sorry that I didn’t know Ethan before his world fell out from under him. I’m sorry that I didn’t know the Grahams or the Boyers as families before they were torn apart and forever changed by their unfathomable loss. I would have liked them, seeing them together, knowing who they were before this.

But I’m not sorry to know them now. I’m not sorry to love them now. And though I hate how I feel now, I’m not sorry I got to know Alysia as much as I did, even for as short a time as it was. Knowing her changed me a little, for the better. Loving her did, too. Losing her forever altered me in ways I still haven’t figured out yet. And as much as it’s a constant ache that I don’t think will ever go away, in a way, I embrace that, too. It means she’s a part of me, even now. Maybe especially now. And if getting rid of the pain means forgetting I ever knew her, then I vote no. Absolutely not. My pain and I shall remain forever entwined as I forge ahead through the world as this new me, whoever that is, and whoever that will be.

Until we meet again.

Alysia
Alysia