I love animals. I think they are endlessly interesting creatures. Maybe I feel this way because of how often we went to the zoo when I was young. It was the perfect place for both me and my little sister, we both loved going and were always exhausted afterward, which I’m sure, was quite the perk for my Mother.
So, as a birthday present for my 25th, my sister decided to take me back to one of my favorite zoos- the one we used to visit so often when we were young- the Ft. Worth Zoo. It was a perfect day. The weather was warm and lovely and all of the animals seemed quite keen to play. We ate every manner of junk food (including my all time favorite cotton candy) and walked around for hours and hours watching the animals. It wasn’t too crowded and we never felt rushed or had a hard time seeing the animals. Truly a perfect day. Of course, there were some moments of hilarity and I wanted to share some of them.
I’m not a girl who is freaked out by reptiles. Neither is my sister. Maybe this is unusual, because when walking around the reptile house we saw and heard women (young and old) screaming and fidgeting nervously. They were obviously afraid of the things behind the glass. My sister and I laughed to ourselves over how silly these women were being and walked on. We came to a green mamba, a snake I was familiar with (only in study) from some of my travels in Eastern Africa. I was carrying a backpack that had several loose hanging straps and was playing with these straps absentmindedly as we stared at the green mamba. Suddenly, I felt something brushing against my arm. I gasped and said “Something is on me!” Then, I realized it was just one of the backpack straps. A man behind me died laughing and said “Don’t worry sweetheart, all the snakes are safely behind the glass.” I was mortified. Humiliated. Ashamed to have acted like one of the women I had felt so superior to only moments before. I think that moment, more than any other that day, made my sister the happiest. She practically fell to the floor laughing and re-enacting my silliness. In my defense, when you are staring at a snake and feel something somehow like a snake brush against your arm you would probably have reacted the same way. Probably.
After the embarrassment that was my time in the reptile house, we went to look at my sisters favorite animlas- the penguins. They were so cute and playful and we sat for a long while watching them. A little girl, about the age of 4, came into the penguin habitat and was quietly sitting and watching the penguins. I was just as interested by her behavior as I was by the penguins. She was dead still and completely quiet, which is rare for a 4 year old. She had been sitting like this for about 5 minutes when she turned to her Mother and said with plenty of attitude “Um, excuse me, but why aren’t the penguins talking?” Her Mom smiled at my sister and I before answering “Sweetie, only the penguins in movies can talk.” The little girl was having none of that “Listen Mom, I know they can talk and I’m just wondering why they aren’t.” (This little girl was remarkably well spoken). My sister and I made a quick exit because we were trying to hold back the giggles. For some reason everything that day seemed particularly funny.
Before lunch we decided to go see the lions. I love lions, I think they are sleek, strong, powerful animals. There was one male lion sitting high above the others and he seemed to be staring right at me. Even my sister noticed and remarked how bizarre it looked because he really was looking straight at me. I froze on that spot to see how long this eye contact between me and the lion would last- I stood and waited but he just continued to look at me. It was such a surreal feeling. I told my sister that maybe the lion and I were some type of inter-species kindred spirits and she rolled her eyes but couldn’t deny that it was odd how his eyes seemingly hadn’t moved from mine. After a few minutes my sister turned around and burst into laughter- apparently, in the habitat directly behind me there stood a zebra– the lions natural prey. So, it turns out the lion was thinking more about lunch and less about our kindred spirits. Alas.
Despite making a fool of myself several times, I still felt like that day could not have been better. I spent it outside, watching animals, eating cotton candy, with my sister (who happens to be my best friend). Perfection.