Monday, May 31, 2010

The Zoo

I visited the Toledo Zoological Garden (Toledo Zoo) last Friday (May 28, 2010) and realized the place has changed in the last 25 years or so when I was there last.  The zoo used to have a scientific theme about it.  The sightseeing train was minimized and I can only recall one or two cafes inside the entire zoo.  These days the zoo is half science and half carnival midway.  I kept watching for a carny barker trying to steer me into a fast game of Three Card Monte.

The zoo has a new polar bear exhibit which is excellent.  The visitors have no clue how dangerous the polar bear is, and the bear has learned to ignore the food that is so near and yet so far.  Here is mama bear with baby bear.

Polar Bears

Visitors are separated from the bears by a (we trust) unbreakable wall of bear paw resistant glass, meaning that you can get right up to the bears as they romp around the enclosure.  The baby bear likes to play with his mother which makes for great entertainment.


I was forced to share the zoo with about 25 big yellow school bus loads of grade school kids, each and every one of whom needed a leash and muzzle.  Too bad they weren't allowed to pet mama bear.  Ah, well, I suppose that in many cases their parents will never take them to the zoo, so - some exposure is better than none at all.


The wolves had the right idea.  It was hot and since there is no way to get to the noisy food on the other side of the fence, might as well take it easy.  I watched the wolves for a while, imagining how much fun it would be to slip a few rabbits into the wolf exhibit.  Bad luck on the rabbits.


For reasons I've never really understood the zebra has never been domesticated.  I gather that half breeds exist, but that they are not an overwhelming success as draft animals.  I do know that many years ago a zoo worker was killed by the zebras he was tending.


One of my favorite critters in the menagerie is the lionfish.  He's both cool looking and poisonous; other fish tend to let him alone.  This is the common lionfish.

One thing that struck me as I walked the zoological garden; the plethora of strollers and wagons.  Fat, sweating mothers put their kids in strollers or wagons and haul them around rather than having the children walk.  I note that the stroller serves as both conveyance and cage, as the occupants are unable to exit the stroller without the help of the parent or guardian.  This makes controlling the youngsters much easier, as the mother doesn't have to expend energy (mental and physical) watching the child and keeping it nearby; virtually all of these children immediately run away once freed and ignore commands to return.  Often the mother is incapable of chasing and catching the child without risking severe injury to herself.  Once they are well past stroller and wagon age and size, the children whine constantly about being tired.  More than half carry extra weight and about a fourth are obese.  These are my own unscientific observations and are not to be taken as careful research.

I remark about this only because my own mother never used a stroller with us.  We walked.  Sometimes we got hot and tired, and mom would let us rest a minute or two before continuing to walk.  I never thought too much about this at the time; you just did it.  On reflection, mom must have judged the distance and weather conditions before setting out on a walk so we never really got to the point where we gave out.  Mom knew the value of exercise and she was wise enough to know that being hot and tired would not lead to our early demise.  Thanks, mom.

For his part, my father taught me how to mix a dry martini and how to hit a stride and keep it.  If dad had to walk from point A to point B, he'd fall into a particular swinging stride and just keep going.  I learned how to do that as well, when I was a child of 7 or so years old. 

And so, you see, one fine evening when we were celebrating the fourth of July, my aunt Grace (the youngest from Mom's side) doubted I'd hold up on a long walk back home.  I walk her legs off.

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